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Kosovo Bans Islamic Headscarf and Religious Instruction in Public Schools

2:01 PM, Sep 7, 2011 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Agani, said that he may resign from his post as health minister in protest against the repudiation of the amendments. He also threatened to promote a national referendum on these issues. Meanwhile, the Islamist movement Join!, which has conducted Muslim prayer services in public spaces, demanding construction of a large mosque in the capital, Pristina, and which had initiated agitation over the headscarf, held a demonstration of about 1,000 people on September 2, to oppose the parliamentary decision.

Astrit Gashi, editor in chief of the highly-respected Kosovo daily Zeri (Voice) wrote that he believed Agani knew the law on headscarves and religion in schools would never pass an Assembly vote, and that the Islamist minister was manipulating Muslim believers whose main grievances were economic.

Zeri has also reported that the Justice party, although small, was troubled internally even before it failed to get legislative approval for the headscarf and religion classes in the public schools. Members were upset that, under Agani’s direction, the ministry of health had been inactive, and alleged that Agani exploited his political position to enrich himself.

Far from troubled Kosovo itself, on August 31, Arid Uka, 21, a Kosovar Muslim raised in Germany, pled guilty to the murder on March 2, 2011, of American airmen Nicholas J. Alden and Zachary R. Cuddeback, 21, the shooting of two of their companions, Kristoffer Schneider and Edgar Veguilla, and an attempt on another, in a jihadist assault at Frankfurt airport last year. Uka admitted and apologized in court for his actions, which he said were provoked by viewing a video the night before, in which American troops were portrayed as raping a Muslim woman. A verdict in the case is expected in 2012.

But the crime depicted in the clip Uka had watched was a scene from the 2007 Brian DePalma film Redacted. DePalma’s feature, based on a 2006 case in Iraq for which five U.S. soldiers were tried and convicted—a point left unmentioned in the movie—was criticized on its release by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif), who wrote to Motion Picture Association of America chairman Dan Glickman: “Unfortunately, Brian de Palma’s new movie ‘Redacted’ . . . portrays American service personnel in Iraq as uncontrollable misfits and criminals. While incidents of criminal behavior by members of our military should never be ignored, the isolated incident on which this film is based negatively portrays American service personnel and misrepresents their collective efforts.” 

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