Moderate Kosova Imam Idriz Bilalli – A "Collaborator" of Stephen Schwartz
The flag of the Albanian nation.
In the Schwartz article, among other things it is said that Sabri Bajgora is viewed as a servant of Naim Tërnava [so-called "grand mufti of Kosova"], and that the latter has led the ICK in a Wahhabi direction since 2003. But the chief imam of Kosova, Sabri Bajgora, disregards all these arguments, saying that the name of Stephen Schwartz is not unknown to the ICK, because this person, according to Bajgora, has in the past written offensively and in a denigrating manner about the Muslim community in Kosova.
Further, Bajgora described Schwartz as a highly controversial person, who constantly commits libels against the heads of the Islamic Community of Kosova.
[Bajgora said,] "Of course some ICK activities are obstructed, and reforms are hindered that continue daily in this institution. I believe it is not worthwhile to deal with such reports, because the research carried out by Stephen Schwartz is based on tendentious insinuations, which are spread unfortunately by certain unscrupulous individuals who shelter under the umbrella of the Islamic Community of Kosova."
He rejected everything in the Schwartz article, and cited an earlier statement of mufti Naim Tërnava, who said there is no place for panic, and that here there is no radical Wahhabi group or group with extremist tendencies.
Chief imam of Kosova Bajgora was asked by Kosovapress about the references in Schwartz's article stating that those in the top leadership positions of the ICK are uneducated Wahhabis, while personnel who were educated and qualified were cast aside, referring to recent elections in the town of Kaçanik.
"This is false and completely untrue," Bajgora said, "because the newly-appointed head of the Islamic Community in Kaçanik is Florim Neziraj, who is a cadre of the faculty of Islamic studies of Kosova, a cadre in the careful attention to education in the ICK, because our aim in establishing this faculty has been precisely to provide our students with a space to be educated in the climate of tolerance, without infiltration by the various tendencies that they may encounter in the Arabic or Islamic world. And someone surely wishes to prevent the ICK from continuing its major reforms, where new cadres are expressing themselves after having recently emerged from among the people."
But the article by Stephen Schwartz was not the only source of complaints that the leading positions in the ICK have been occupied by decided Wahhabis. The same view is expressed by the imam of the Meta Podujeva mosque in the city of Podujeva, Idriz Bilalli, who is also the head of the Professional Association of Islamic Community Workers and was dismissed recently from the ICK branch in Podujeva. Interviewed by telephone by Kosovapress regarding the reportage of Stephen Schwartz, Bilalli said it was based on the toleration shown by the leaders of the ICK towards Islamic radicals, whom they have placed in important positions.
"This Wahhabi stream has been tolerated in its penetration of Kosova, and certainly that is the basis of this and other reportages, given the officials of the Islamic Community who have gained positions through the mandate of this gentleman who is at the head of the Islamic Community (Naim Tërnava). I am sure that this is the foundation of this reportage. And the penetration of positions in the Islamic Community, including those of professors, imams in mosques, and other positions have taken place because of the 'coalition of silence' to which I have referred regarding these Islamic radicals in Kosova," Bilalli said by telephone.
But for Bajgora a person like Idriz Bilalli is seen as a collaborator of Schwartz. Bajgora does not stop there, but has warned that he will present charges against detractors and their collaborators, in addressing the unfounded claims against the leaders of the Islamic Community in Kosova.
"Incapable of fulfilling their careerist wishes, they go before the public and spread various lies, so we are thinking seriously of entering a legal claim, either privately or in the civil courts, regarding these false accusations, which damage the image of the believers and of the Islamic Community of Kosova in general," said the chief imam of Kosova.
Furthermore, he said that in Kosova there has not been and will be no room for Wahhabi and Islamist radicalism, because, according to him, this is made impossible by the geographical position of Kosova.
The Stone (Kosova) Mosque, Prishtina – Photograph 2008 via Wikimedia Commons.
Translated by Center for Islamic Pluralism
The official statement of the Islamic Community of Kosova (BIK) on this matter appears here:
Deklarata zyrtare e Bashkësisë Islame të Kosovës (BIK) për këtë çështje duket se këtu:
Other Albanian-language reportage on this matter appears at:
Reportazh më shumë në këtë çështje në gjuhën shqipe paraqitet në:
http://www.kosovahaber.net/?page=2,12,11733 [turqisht – Türkçe]
Note: The content of external articles does not necessarily reflect the views of Center for Islamic Pluralism.