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More Islamist Mischief Aimed at Albanian Muslims

3:23 PM, Aug 17, 2011 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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As reported here, and noted in U.S. State Department Religious Freedom Reports for 2006 and 2009, the official Islamic Community of Macedonia has opposed legal recognition of the Harabati Baba Sufi community in Tetovo, an Albanian-majority city in western Macedonia. The Harabati Baba shrine complex has been besieged and diminished by Wahhabi occupation, including violent attacks. In December 2010, the Sufi compound was set afire in an apparent arson plot.

The Harabati Baba shrine is so closely associated with Tetovo that it appears on the municipal shield. Like the country’s capital, Skopje, Tetovo is run-down, yet it includes notable traditional mosques. But Arab-inspired fundamentalists are intent on extirpating the moderate and Sufi heritage from the collective memory of the local Muslims. As if to celebrate the partial burning of the Harabati Baba shrine, Tetovo was the site of a conference on August 3, held by another obscure organization, the Islamic Youth Forum (FRI by its Albanian initials), established in 2000 in Macedonia and granted government registration (which was denied to the Harabati Sufis). Titled “Islam in Europe (Danger or Salvation),” the event featured Hani Ramadan, brother of the internationally-known Islamist intellectual Tariq Ramadan. Hani and Tariq Ramadan are grandsons of Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.  

In 2002, Hani Ramadan shocked European opinion of all faiths when he published an article in the Parisian daily Le Monde defending stoning as a punishment for adultery. Hani Ramadan was dismissed from employment as a high school instructor in Switzerland, on the grounds that his responsibilities as a schoolteacher were compromised by his advocacy of a human rights violation. He was also removed from his post as imam of the Islamic Centre—i.e. main mosque—of Geneva. But in the publicity for the conference in Macedonia, Hani Ramadan was described as still occupying a position as “director of the Geneva mosque.” His talk in Tetovo, dwelling on the difficulties he said are faced by Muslims in Western Europe, was followed by a well-attended iftar dinner, breaking the Ramadan fast, in Skopje.

Hani Ramadan’s “Muslim brother” (in both definitions) Tariq was a visitor to Macedonia two months before, in June, during a tour that included that country, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia. Overlooked by the rest of Europe and the world, lagging in economic and social development, and atomized by ethnic and political rivalries, Macedonia and its Albanian-speaking Muslims have long been a logical target for Islamist ambitions. The fire at Tetovo’s Sufi shrine last year and lectures by the Ramadan brothers during the current summer are warnings that should no longer be disregarded. 

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