Schwartz: Fuad Ramiqi has ties to Hamas
by Koha Ditore
Prishtina, Kosova, July 1– Protesters asking for a new mosque and the Kosova Police have made their plans for today. It is expected that they will "clash" in one of the main streets of Prishtina.
The protesters led by Fuad Ramiqi have not asked for a permit from the Kosova Police to occupy public venues – like the crossroads that leads to Germi, but the Police say that if they block them without a permit they will be stopped.
Thursday evening, however, the organizers of the protest emphasized that they would not block the street.
In the evening, the "Join" civic movement declared that they have abandoned a plan to block the street.
"The Join Movement announces that tomorrow, on July 1, 2011, jumaa namaz [Friday prayer] will take place by the Çarshia ["Market"] Mosque (at the triangle), but the street will not be blocked," according to the e-mail sent by this group. [Note: the centrally-located mosque is also known as the Stone mosque and the Kosova mosque. -- CIP].
Meanwhile, the Prishtina Municipality is exploring some places near the center of the capital where a parcel of land could be found for the construction of a large mosque, together with an Islamic center.
One of the organizers of the protest, who has been already promoted by the Muslim protesters as the leader, Fuad Ramiqi, was arrested by the Israelis, at the beginning of this year, as he had joined a convoy trying to send aid to Gaza of Palestine. He now stands accused by an American journalist of Islamic faith of trying to extend the roots of Islamic radical organizations into Kosovo.
Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, who became Muslim, has written dozens of articles about Islam in Kosovo and has said that it should be used as a model. However, he is suspicious about Fuad Ramiqi's engagement in all this. In an article published by The Weekly Standard in Washington, titled "From Kosovo to Gaza," Schwartz says that Fuad Ramiqi is the representative in Kosovo of the European Muslim Network, a fundamentalist organization led by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, born in Egypt but living in Qatar, and by the academic Tariq Ramadan.
"Al-Qaradawi and Ramadan are leading figures in the radical Muslim Brotherhood, which as Thomas Joscelyn has noted, had enough links with the Gaza incident for it to be considered a Brotherhood operation. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, and Ramadan is the grandson of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna," the journalist has written.
During the action to transport humanitarian aid to Gaza, Fuad Ramiqi was one of the participants who tried to break Israel's naval blockade. Ramiqi was there with three other Muslim Albanians from Macedonia: Sami Emini, Jasmin Rexhepi and Sead Asipi. Stephen Sylejman Schwartz says that Fuad Ramiqi –a soldier "in the Yugoslav army who joined the Bosnian army during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, runs his own Brotherhood franchise, the Muslim Forum of Kosovo (MFK), created in 2006.
"In the days following the Gaza blockade clash, Ramiqi's group apparently preferred to keep silent on his involvement. But a 2007 document in English on its website attests to its ideology. The group denounced a Kosovo public school principal who had criticized two 12th-grade girls for wearing the Islamic headscarf in class. Kosovo's ban on the headscarf in public schools is paralleled by police orders to track and arrest Islamist radicals," says Schwartz.
"Confrontations between Wahhabi intruders and local Muslims have been visible in all the Western Balkan countries, including Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Albania. The presence of three Macedonian Albanians at the scene of the Gaza bloodshed is unsurprising to observers of Islam in the Balkans, since Macedonian Muslims have succumbed almost totally to the influence of Arab money," says this journalist who has also founded an organization, the Center for Islamic Pluralism.
However, Fuad Ramiqi rejects categorically this connection. He says that he departed for Gaza only because of humanitarianism.
"The Muslim Forum is a registered NGO. I don't read and follow what you have read and followed. I am an Albanian. I have given a great contribution for this country. I have fought for this country and I love this country. This is obvious to the people. I don't need to have, I never had and I will never have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood or with any other organization in the world," Ramiqi said. "Absolutely, never in my life, have I had such associations and certainly not with the organization that you are referring to."
Selected online comments:
Honestly, we Albanians will never learn. Now when it is time to build cultural centers and hospitals we rise in protests for mosques… we're well behind the rest of humanity, as all the Muslims of the world are. We have been very tolerant until now in religion, a virtue that no one else has had, but I am afraid that certain types like this Fuad want us to abandon this sacred tradition.
Greetings… Let them fill the mosques that they have first and then we'll see about building a new one.
We can't build mosques in every corner when there are people who can't feed themselves at home. Let us help them first because there are already many mosques in Prishtina and Kosova. These people with beards have already invested enough in these things and in the end only trouble will come from their entry into the Albanian world.
Note: The content of external articles does not necessarily reflect the views of Center for Islamic Pluralism.