by Nebih Maxhuni
Willingly or not, Mufti Naim Tërnava is not in control of the situation. His role now is being taken over by Fuad Ramiqi, the man who seems to have found the small door through which to become a political factor. He is now leading the Muslim groups protesting for the construction of a large mosque in the center of Prishtina. Kosovar Imams are asking who is truly leading the Islamic Community of Kosova (Bashkësia Islame e Kosovës, BIK].
Divisions have begun to upset the Islamic Community of Kosova (BIK). Leaders of Muslims in some municipalities of Kosova have started to openly accuse Naim Tërnava, head of the BIK, of maintaining ties with Islamic radicals.
According to them, the BIK, led by Tërnava, is indirectly involved in protests, with the blocking of streets in the capital.
"Naim Tërnava could be [the reason] behind them. The problem is that when he does not want things done under his own roof, he can call on Islamic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out protests," Mullah Osman Musliu from Drenas, who has been beaten several times by unidentified persons because of his stance against the Wahhabis, told Express.
Mufti Naim Tërnava has not been seen in the protesting crowds, but someone else is playing his role. He is Fuad Ramiqi. Mullah Osmani has a few questions: "Who is this Fuad Ramiqi and what does he do? Is he the leader of BIK or is he there because Naim Tërnava has failed to do his job leaving us in this situation?"
According to [Osmani], it has been years since Tërnava has called a meeting with the heads of the Islamic communities in the municipalities of Kosova, because there are several clerics who do not agree with the position of BIK on many issues.
Mullah Osman has advice for Tërnava and the other BIK personnel: "He and the others must listen to the people. I have been part of BIK for 30 years now and I have never been asked about anything. BIK should consult the people on how to resolve this situation."
He has directly accused the leading imam Tërnava and his clan of maintaining strong ties, based on generous material assets, with various NGOs that are Islamic in name, but which enjoy resources of unknown origin.
"It is high time for Naim Tërnava to leave his position. He has never distanced himself from the protests, the blocking of the streets and the people who have organized these actions. I am not against protest, but the jamaat [community of Muslim believers] is being divided and so is BIK," he says.
From its own sources, our newspaper has learned that the divisions between BIK and the imams of several municipalities in Kosova began years ago, coinciding with the rise of Tërnava to the leadership of the Muslim community. Now they are organizing themselves against BIK and against Tërnava. Beside the imam of Drenas, BIK's policies are criticized also by the imams of Hanit i Elezit, Vitia, Klina, Podujeva etc. Furthermore the imam of the main mosque of Podujeva, Idriz Bilalli, has levelled a number of accusations at mufti Tërnava. The most serious among them has to do with his cooperation with the people who lead radical Islamic organizations, which depend on dubious funds.
Bilalli has said that the Mufti has given the leaders of these organizations high positions and has established a silent coalition with them, because of the great wealth at their disposal.
The Secretary of the Islamic Community of Kosova, Resul Rexhepi, refused to comment on the allegation made against Mufti Naim Tërnava about his connections with radical Islam. "Why don't you call the Mufti and ask him?" he said.
However, it was impossible to contact Tërnava on Friday. Meanwhile, Rexhepi emphasized that BIK has never supported the protest of the jamaat in Prishtina. "We do not support and we are not behind this organization, because this will only make it more difficult to achieve the efforts that BIK is continuing with the Municipality of Prishtina to find a solution and determine a place [for a new mosque]," Rexhepi said to Express.
The leaders of BIK are not the only ones who are being accused of connections with the Islamic radicals. One of the organizers of the jumaa protests, Fuad Ramiqi has been accused by the American journalist of Muslim faith, Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, of being the representative in Kosova of the European Network of Muslims, a fundamentalist organization.
They will wait until Ramadan
Prishtina, July 1st – About a thousand believers have prayed jumaa namaz [Friday prayer] in Adem Jashari Square, which is situated between the Municipality and the Parliament of Kosova. No incident occurred. As decided in the evening hours of Thursday by the organizer of the protest – the "Join" Movement – the street was not blocked. In addition to the police, protest organizers in white and blue shirts played a role in keeping order. On many occasions these people have created difficulties for the media in doing their jobs. Before the namaz, Fatos Rexhepi, representative of "Join," spoke to the crowd. He said that the protest was cancelled, after analyzing the statement issued by the Municipality of Prishtina, which is exploring alternatives for a space to build a mosque and an Islamic center. Rexhepi expressed his conviction that the work for the mosque would begin in the first day of Ramadan, August 1.
However, the Municipality has been unable to promise that the construction would begin precisely on the first day of Ramadan. Spokesman Muhamet Gashi said that the Municipality is studying a number of places so that it can decide later which one is the most convenient.
Shefqet Krasniqi supports the protesters
The Imam of the Grand [Imperial] Mosque in Prishtina, Shefqet Krasniqi, said to Express that he supports the protesters, who "are only asking for a place where the Muslim jamaat can perform its religious ceremonies in Prishtina.
"How can I not support them? I do with all my heart and soul. The jamaat prays "in the street under the summer heat and in the winter when it is cold," he said.
Selected online comments
I don't understand how anyone could follow Shefqet Krasniqi and this Fuad Ramiqi. This Krasniqi has spoken about Mother Teresa with the most degrading words that would the dignity of and the honor of anyone. They have taken a lot of money for the work that they are doing in Kosovo. We must cultivate a liberal Islam, not that of Bin Laden or the Wahhabis. We should protect our Kosovo and love our Kosovo because it does not belong only to us.
Albanik Shqipari (Prishtina)
The question of the mosque is not the cause of these events. Rather, it is a desire to dominate the naïve Muslims through corruption by money. Fuad Ramiqi has failed to make it everywhere: in the Yugoslav Army, in the KLA and in the political parties. He found his niche among the naïve Muslims and got the chance to get rich as a "Muslim." Nobody in Kosovo is against a big mosque in Prishtina, but not in the way asked by Mr. Ramiqi and not with the conditions placed by him about when and where. The mosque will be built according to the demands of the traditional Muslim believers of Prishtina, with the approval of the Islamic Community of Kosovo and with permission from the Municipality of Prishtina. It will be where it is most convenient and not where it is decided by Fuad and those who follow him. In both protests I saw no devoted believers but only young people with grown beards. There is nothing Albanian about them and Muslims like them have no nationality.
Why isn't this Muslim organization lobbying for Kosova in the Arab countries, instead of rallying for mosques? Is this mosque more important than our country? The problem is that these are not Muslims, they are Taliban. With these beards and clothes that make no sense. They may go well in Arabia but not in the Albanian lands, because our religion is Albanianism.
That we are Albanians, it is something we know, not something we believe may be. The nation comes first and faith comes after it. Those who think otherwise insh'allah are never going to expand or there will be trouble for Albanianism.
Oh, only trouble will come from all these Wahhabi beards that are paid for… we have enough mosques. We need more work.
When we were occupied many Albanians cooperated with Serbia and became servants of the devil. Now we have these people who pray in the streets. I'd like to say to them that Serbia would have loved to build them a mosque at every 100 meters, they would have loved to destroy the Faculty of Philosophy and break every brick of it to build a mosque. They could have said to the world then, these Kosovars don't know yet whether they are from Afghanistan or from a country that deserves the help of the West… these people are more dangerous than Serbia.
Albanian people should distance themselves from the Taliban. The state should condemn the Taliban. Mullah Osmani should be elected chairman of the Islamic Community of Kosova. I belong to the Muslim faith but above all I am Albanian. Long live ethnic Albania and our great friend the USA!
This man [Ramiqi] should be locked up in Guantánamo. They are shaming us in front of the democratic world. May God destroy these bearded people. They smell of catastrophe.
Shame on us, brothers. We are not Arabs. We are Albanians. We never had divisions among us and our religion is Albanianism. Forget about this filth coming from the East. We have no business with them. We are Albanians.
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