Kosovo and the Islamic World
By Arianit Dobruna and Gent Prokshi
Sunday, 06 July 2008
Razed library of the Hadum mosque in Gjakova
One of the greatest ironies of the Kosovo question has been seeing Serbia argue against Kosovo amongst the Islamic countries. Serbia that has burned hundreds of mosques in Kosovo and Bosnia and has bloodied its hands with the lives of hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians just in the last 15 years has the face to sit and argue its case against its former Muslim victims to the world's Islamic countries.
But knowing Serbian politics, that is not the surprise here, the surprise are those on the receiving end of this disgrace.
When the Republic of Kosovo declared its independence, the last President of Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesic, who once was also a close adviser to Josip Broz Tito, said, “It is wrong to think that Kosovo sets precedent, because unlike other regions in the world, Kosovo was a full constitutional authoritative body, with the right to veto, like other Yugoslav republics. Also, I hope it [Serbia] will realize that Kosovo's declaration of independence to separate from it is because of the genocidal crimes that Serbia has taken against the Kosovo up to now. Serbia should apologize for what it has done in Kosovo. Both Serbia and Kosovo were equal bodies in the Yugoslav federation. Thus, Kosovo independence is right and legal.” Kosovo is the seventh independent republic to come out of Tito’s Yugoslavia. The Republic of Kosovo is a European country, located in the southeastern Europe. Its population of over two million is more than 90% of Muslim creed of various ethnicities.
During almost a century of occupation, Serbia established an apartheid, colonial regime in Kosovo to which many African and Middle Eastern countries members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) can easily relate to. Serbia’s crimes in Kosovo neither begin nor end with Milosevic. Milosevic is only a piece of the iceberg, revealed only thanks to the wide spread of modern information media. Serbia’s crimes were carried out based on well planned memorandums and other blueprints penned around the beginning of 20th century by Serbian romantic nationalists, ideologue statesmen of Greater Serbia. With Serbia acting as a local colonialist power, Kosovo shared the same kind of experiences as the Muslim and African world did with European colonialist powers. Serbia masterfully used prejudices of the relevant era to justify the slaughter of Kosovars as just Muslims, by hoping that in this way the world will allow Serbia to continue to commit atrocities. Colonialist, hegemonic and segregationist policies of Serbia went unhampered for too long as the propaganda machine manipulated world public opinion.
Exploitation of Kosovo's rich land has been Serbia’s long run dream. Murdering tens of thousands of Kosovars, sending hundreds of thousands of others into flight and then colonizing with Serb population the land left behind. As Kosovo's rich underground was exploited to build and prosper Serbia, Kosovo remained occupied, poor, with its people continuously repressed, ethnically cleansed, enslaved in famine, isolated, struggling for freedom and the right to run their own country as independent and sovereign. A Serbian writer put it best, “Kosovars were our Negroes,” he reminisced recently.
Serbia destroyed Islamic legacy in Kosovo. Serbia applied forced conversions of Kosovars of Muslim creed to Serbian Christian Orthodoxy. Serbia completely destroyed 649 mosques in the last war, with some five centuries old; desecrated, burglarized or partially destroyed 234 other mosques. Serbia destroyed tens of madrasahs, burned libraries that contained invaluable Koranic scriptures and treatise. Serbia murdered hundreds of Muslim imams.
Serbia tried to portray Kosovo as a threat to the Western world, and itself as a valiant protector of Christendom from the Islamic threat. Thesis such as the “Green corridor” still today inspire publications as The Washington Times and prominent extreme right bloggers in the United States. The implication being that the West should not support the cause of the Muslim Kosovars against Christian Serbs no matter how Serbia acts.
Serbian and Russian obstructionist propaganda, aiming to mislead the world with statements such as Islam poses a threat and Kosovo sets a precedent, remained relentless. Russia has no interest in bringing peace and stability to the world. In its desperation to gain its lost name, Russia is attempting to obstruct the freedom of Kosovars, sadly enough in cooperation with some Islamic countries such as Indonesia, Azerbaijan, and Algeria. While savagely mistreating the Muslim minority in its own country today, Russia cannot be an ally to the Muslim world which it is using through an obstructionist strategy of divide and rule. Russia is not interested in resolving the problems in the Muslim world but rather in exploiting and using these regions for its own geopolitical means. Its desperate colonialist horizons are being expanded from Europe to Asia. Its neighbors, which were fooled and coerced into becoming allies and today are not, went through famine and genocide. And the very sober stories of Chechnya and Afghanistan should make it clear what kind of friend Russia is to Muslims.
Kosovo can be a connection between East and West. Kosovo represents something very unique in the world today. Of a Western military alliance coming to the aid of a Muslim-majority population and a reconstruction and stabilization effort supported by Norwegian NGO's, United Arab Emirate military hospitals, French and Turkish soldiers and Pakistani policemen. Kosovo represents the proof of a better world, not divided by religion, but united over common humanitarian values. By recognizing Kosovo as other nations have already done, Muslim world and the rest will find an ally, a friend and a reliable business partner who can offer future friendships with the rest of Europe.
Kosovo's independence along with its democratic constitution allows Islam and other religions to finally breath free. Freedom of speech, religion, and press for Kosovars of Muslim creed are the blessings they have sought for almost a century.
The Republic of Kosovo finally gained its sovereign statehood in coordination with its allies in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Australia, closing the final chapter of Yugoslavia. Today, Kosovo has a democratic constitution, professional police, stable government, soon to establish a NATO trained army and is in the process of joining major world organizations.
It is time that Kosovo joins the Organization of the Islamic Conference as well. Through OIC Kosovo will setup good relations with a part of the world which it has neglected so far give room for maneuvering to Serbia. OIC represents 57 countries and a diversity of people spread across four continents. Kosovo and OIC countries shares similar historic experiences, world’s second biggest religion – Islam, and the need to cooperate economically.
Arianit is Muslim and Gent is Kosovar Roman Catholic.