Schwartz Was Right: Moderate Kosova Muslim Leader Replies to Radical Libels
The flag of the Albanian nation.
[CIP Note: This statement was republished by the Prishtina daily Express on September 16, 2013, under the headline "Schwartz Was Right."]
[The former President of the Assembly of the Islamic Community of Kosova (BIK) reacts to a statement by the Presidency of the BIK against the Islamic scholar, Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, whom the BIK described as a tool of "the duo Xhabir Hamiti and Emin Behrami and their company." Hamiti's response is published in full.]
To Criticize Wrong Decisions Made By The Collective Leadership Of An Institution Is By No Means To Attack The Institution To Which One Belongs!
We must admit at the outset that all that may be said in response to recent statements by some who still pursue, freely and without liability, libel, while nestled within the staff of the Presidency of the Islamic Community of Kosova (BIK), is superfluous, knowing as we do that Kosova's citizens understand that the institution of the BIK has been usurped in the most brutal way possible. We all know that involved in this are three to four people, constructing a network within the BIK that by force of power, outside the guarantees of the BIK constitution and Islamic law, managed to manipulate some BIK employees as well as a small part of public opinion.
Where is the problem? There is great noise because these issues are of great simplicity and importance.
a) It is simple because of those individuals who desire to hold the BIK hostage, within an obsolete philosophical and organizational concept.
b) It is important because new initiatives were developed to advance this, our holy institution, towards horizons where the Islamic Community of Kosova would be seen as a common home for all of us, which would work with devotion to religion, for the benefit of the country, state and our nation. Therefore, our confrontation with these wild assaults coming from an obscure platform, based on the interest of three or four people, will continue.
We are aware of the challenges and dangers that threaten us, but we feel profoundly God's help and support for honest and reasonable people, which we pray will not cease, because otherwise this handful isolated within the walls of the BIK presidency will continue to enjoy the illegal and personal privileges created in the past 20 years, on the backs and sweat of our citizens. We saw fit to respond, because as believers we owe a debt to our citizens and our country in general. Ultimately, it is our obligation to inform the public about allegations of unfair, misleading and biased judgments that create confusion in the public.
The BIK statement issued September 13, 2013 [this document has not been translated from Albanian but is accessible here – CIP] comprises an empty and loud reaction, framed with dull rhetoric. You speak about heaven but your problems are on earth. You blame others for your mistakes, and the mentality you fostered in Kosova after the 1999 war, but when your work is criticized for your failures, you repeat clichés about "refusing to listen to foreigners." You blame Xhabir Hamiti because Stephen Schwartz has written about the BIK's work and public attitudes, but as the entire public knows, Schwartz has offered opinions and analysis of the events that occurred recently in the BIK, and other events in the broader Islamic world, on many occasions over a long time.
Based on his profile, participation in congresses, sessions, debates and academic seminars, Schwartz is known throughout the Islamic world. After the war, as everyone knows, he worked in Kosova, visiting the BIK office many times when you possessed an influence you hold even now, while I was not part of the upper hierarchy. I worked in the Islamic faculty and heard your praise, boasting, and blessings on his visits. You were so proud when Schwartz visited! Also, I would like to remind you that the claims of analysts may or may not be accurate and precise, so if you are unhappy with his writings or opinions, you are not required to take them into account, any more than those of others.
Remember, however, that when someone's secret problems are known, if only by a friend, wife, or closest partner, when your secrets and sins are discovered by someone outside your closed circle, they have not come from me, because as everybody knows I have neither been nor am your close friend or associate.
My candidacy to assume the post of dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies came after the assignment to new diplomatic duties of the long-serving member of the BIK team, Dr. Rexhep Boja, who coordinated with the donor for the construction of the new building for the Faculty of Islamic Studies and the building of the Presidency under the roof of which you act against the interest of the BIK and the future of our society. This is also proof of your exceedingly low order, according to which Dr. Rexhep Boja had neither jurisdiction nor duties regarding the empty position, but it was my lawful work and gave me legally the right to candidacy and aspiration to serve in that position. Therefore, exactly for this reason, my commitment to function as acting dean was approved by 21 teachers out of the 23 present at the regular meeting of June 2010, which can always be checked in the documentation, along with the signatures of all participating teachers.
H.E. Dr. Rexhep Boja.
Perhaps you preferred that the dean be your comrade, although none of your favorites possessed scientific degrees or academic standing in Islamic studies, which are the criteria required for the the position of dean of the faculty under our statute. Because of this, am I guilty for having possessed titles and scholarly recognition in advance of your schemes, and that you excluded me until they were bestowed on your accomplices?
You say that the dismissal from the office of President of the Assembly is legitimate, because those who were elected had the power to discharge Hamiti!
With many public responsibilities members of the BIK Assembly would never have fallen into the trap, were it not for your efforts, coupled with financial enticements and promotions in the positions of some Assembly members. Signatures were gathered on the night of Bajram Fitër [Eid al-Fitr] for a public declaration threatening me, to fulfill your personal and careerist appetites, and so that at any price you could continue with the motto, "This is how we came to the BIK, and this is how we will leave it," as expressed in the conclusion of a statement by close associates of your leadership!
While you say that Hamiti blocked changes in the statute of the BIK, you lie again. The whole public knows about my early proposals for organizational changes in the BIK, originating long ago, before my election to the position of Assembly President.
Similarly, your assertion is untrue when you say this is the second change in the BIK constitution since the separation of the BIK from the Islamic authorities in Sarajevo. This is in reality the third amendment from the past text, because that was prepared under the former communist system without a change. For the sake of public truth I suggest that the first amendment of the old text of the Constitution of BIK was done in 1993, when the assembly speaker was Mr. Miftar Hajdini, and the second in 2002, when the chairman of the Assembly was the current head of the presidency, and the latter's finally illegal demand, dated August 29, 2013, was the third attempt -- made this time against me as the legitimate president of the assembly.
None of the mentioned amendments can change substantially the dynamic nature or the organizational concept of the BIK, developed during the time of the Communist dictatorial system.
Thus, the unwillingness to allow substantial changes to the BIK constitution by its creators means that I cannot accept cosmetic, superficial, and symbolic changes.
The clan that crouches under the eaves of the BIK headquarters defames the personality of Professor Emin Behrami. They reveal supposedly a partnership between me and the professor. They intentionally want disruption, the same as in all the different councils of the Islamic Community. They forget that Emin Behrami was a medresa professor for 33 years. He was among the professors most beloved by students and colleagues. We remember this – not just me, but all who were in his hands. He was also a professor in the Faculty of Islamic Studies for 15 years. His studies in Quranic science are unmatched in our region and beyond. And when he assumed a position against abuse in the medresa, as well as in all the institutions of the Islamic Community, he was removed from his work.
He is not the only one who was thrown in the street; others sacrificed themselves to save the image of the Islamic Community. The demands by Professor Behrami to halt abuses did not come from me, because neither then nor now am I involved in medresa instruction. So why are we called a "duo"? Is it possible that I should have to defend him against these libels and others, to prove that I am not to blame for the chaos and misery in the Islamic Community of Kosova? No, this was not possible and will not be so in the future.
You invite people to speak their minds and to reason, to speak from their hearts and souls and conscience. You should accept blame, because confession of the truth educates others, while God forgives those who admit and do not repeat their mistakes. You should distinguish between the BIK as an institution and the consecutive errors you have committed in its name.
To criticize wrong decisions made by the collective leadership of an institution, is by no means to attack the institution to which one belongs, in this case the BIK!
The Muslims of our country will continue their religious life, with or without you; other, younger people, will replace us, because this is the law of life in this world, so you should not be remembered by the generations to come as part of a bad history.
Let reasoning be calm, let official activities be measured, intelligent, and rational, reflecting appropriately on society, and on the greatness of our spiritual institution. Do not use disgusting labels, allegedly on behalf of the institution, only because we called for order, regulation, transparency, academic requirements, and respect for values – demands which affected apparently your narrow clan interests.
The institution is not protected when white is deliberately presented as black, and black as white. No individual, society, or country moves ahead and improves, while ignoring problems, but, rather, they confront them and make choices with a cool and reasonable mind.
Believers in the faith of Islam in our country and our citizens generally want a clear vision of the BIK, a straight approach, not attacks on religious values, nor insult and libels in the name of religion, nor threats of lynching against anyone who thinks and believes differently.
Why not examine your conscience, when it is known publicly that you have threatened the life of a scholar with more than three decades in Islamic studies, and even worse, have done so "in the name of Islam!" – followed by successive threats from people encouraging the leadership of the BIK! Why do this!? You will say also this is a libel! Tell people why you threaten people "in the name of Islam" but only to pursue your narrow interests!
However, after all that has happened, although it is late, I congratulate the ulema who sit together, discuss, and analyze, and say publicly what must be changed. First our thoughts must be reasonable and straight, without tensions and without prejudices. You must ask how the BIK came to this state, who brought it to this point -- I who did not have power, or you who had everything under your control? Our religious and human obligation is to call for good reasoning and finally to propose formation of a commission of impartial judges who will decide on our mistakes, so that we may accept each other and work for the general good.
We Are One.
Note: The Albanian-language text of this article is accessible at http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2293/hamiti-pse-kercenoni-ne-emer-te-fese-per-interesa.
Shënim: Teksti në gjuhën shqipe i këtij neni është i arritshëm në http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2293/hamiti-pse-kercenoni-ne-emer-te-fese-per-interesa.
Note: The content of external articles does not necessarily reflect the views of Center for Islamic Pluralism.