Wahhabis "have spread their roots throughout Kosovo", imam warns government
BBC Monitoring Europe (Political) - January 24, 2009 Saturday

Text of report by Kosovo Albanian newspaper Kosova Sot on 12 January

[Report by K. Gashi and V. Prebreza: "Mullah Osman: Wahhabists Attacked Me"]

Only ten minutes before the Friday [16 January] prayer, a quarrel broke out over the appointment of the imam at the mosque in the village of Zabel [Zabelj]. Just before the prayer, the mosque congregation attacked Osman Musliu, chairman of the Islamic Community in Glogovac and beat him unconscious. Mullah Osman has suffered injuries to his face and head and fractures to his arm and ribs as a result of the attack by more than 10 people. The village leader and another citizen who intervened to stop the beating have also suffered injuries. Over 30 police officers had to intervene to bring the situation under control. Several of the individuals involved in the attack have been arrested. Mullah Osman Musliu spoke to Kosovo Sot about the incident of the Friday noon in the Zabel mosque and other events that he believed had led up to it. Musliu spoke publicly about the danger of Wahhabism and about the measures that should be taken urgently to salvage Kosovo from this, as he calls it, extremist ideology.

Wahhabists, Greatest Danger to Kosovo

He blames the Wahhabists and extremists for the Friday incident. According to him, they are the greatest danger for Kosovo, even greater than the [Kosovska] Mitrovica problem. "I know that this incident has been organized by my colleagues, some of whom are in the Islamic Community of Kosovo [BIK] Presidency while others are around me here. I would draw attention to the imam of the mosque in Krajkovo, Bahri Hoxha, whose dismissal we have been demanding because he does not recognize the BIK and refuses to pay contributions or attend our meetings," Mullah Osman said. "He is just an organizer and that is why we have called for his dismissal. He has been trying to organize the mosque in Globare and take it under his control, just as he has done with the mosque in Zabel."

The incident began when the Glogovac BIK Council appointed an imam to the mosque in Zabel following the death of the old imam several weeks earlier.

According to Mullah Osman, the conflict broke out when several people wanted to take over the Zabel mosque, just as they had done before with the Morina mosque, which, according to Mullah Osman, is not answerable to the BIK anymore. "We had indications that they wanted to take over the mosque in Zabel, just as they had done in Morina," Mullah Osman said. He said that the mosque in Morina is famous and known throughout the country. "The international community and [NATO-led] KFOR [Kosovo Force] know about this mosque. No one knows anything about its imam or what he does. This mosque is not part of the BIK and I think that this mosque is the source of all evil in Drenica," he said. He believes that the entire scenario of his beating and humiliation was prepared by the school of this mosque. "I have spoken a great deal about the imam of this mosque. No one knows how many passports he has or where he gets funding. He distributes assistance and meat. The incident in which I was beaten is a result of the teachings in this mosque."

Appointment of Zabel Mosque Imam

Mullah Osman also explained how the imam of the mosque in Zabel had been appointed. According to him, only the chief imam of Glogovac had been against the nomination, who, according to him, favoured Bahri Hoxha. "We appointed the Zabel imam with six votes in favour and one against. When we elected him, the chief imam refused to go and introduce him to the congregation in Zabel because he is associated with Bahri Hoxha, who is the imam in Krajkovo mosque, but wanted to be moved to Zabel," he said. Because someone had to go to Zabel and introduce the new imam, Mullah Osman decided to go and carry out this tradition himself. "The moment we entered the mosque (in Zabel), a person known as Hajji Emrush stood up and began to shout: 'Congregation, who wants Bahri Hoxha (for imam)?' The crowd shouted in approval and addressed me by saying: 'Get out... you scum...' I asked them to sit and talk, but their reply was: 'Get out! You are the enemy of the faith.' After that, two old men insulted me," Mullah Osman said. According to him, 90% of the people present in the mosque were not Zabel residents. He said that the people who had come from other places throughout Drenica had not dared to attack him openly. "One Shefqet Krasniqi tried to hit me, but a man from the congregation got between us and he was attacked, too. At that moment, the village head intervened, urging people to calm down, but they attacked him, too. They beat the two of them more than they did beat me," Mullah Osman said. He said that the attackers had beaten up the village head first, then the person who had tried to help him, then him.

"None of them dared to be the first to attack me. I told them that, if they wanted to attack me, the one who attacked me first should better think twice. They approached me and, pretending to want to throw me out, felt my belt to see if I was armed. And, when they saw that I was unarmed, one of them hit me in the face," Mullah Osman said. He added that he had lost consciousness at that moment, but had regained it again from the beating. "I fell to the ground and I lost consciousness, but I regained it again from the beating and I managed to stand up and I saw myself surrounded by about 15 people who were kicking me. I managed to go out to my car and drive in the direction of Glogovac, where I met a police patrol. Unfortunately, the Glogovac police had only two vehicles at their disposal because they cover Gracanica, too," Mullah Osman continued his story. "I returned to the Zabel mosque with the police commander, but they confronted him, too. After a few minutes, another 30 or 40 police officers arrived in civilian cars and blocked the mosque and arrested several people."

BIK Should Take Measures

According to Mullah Osman, these scenarios are designed by people whom he knows and who were not present in the Zabel mosque when he was attacked. If the BIK fails to take measures then, according to him, it would mean that it supports people who beat him up.

"If Naim Ternava [BIK chairman] wants to show that he is against these people, he has to take measures and discipline Shefqet [Krasniqi], the imam of the Grand Mosque in Pristina, and sack imam Mazllum in Prizren, because they are the source of all evil. Third, Enes Gogaj in Pec should also be sacked. He destroyed the grave of Haxhi Zeka [Albanian 19th century patriot] with a hammer and the BIK is aware of this," Mullah Osman said, who went on to express his fear of the danger that the country was facing.

"I suspect that Wahhabism and extremism, which many hesitate to call by these names, are advocated by psychopaths who want to destroy the BIK. And this is the least of their goals. They want to cause much bigger national problems," he said.

Speaking about Wahhabism, he said that this ideology could not accept other people. He added that its advocates thought that only they were right and that all the rest were wrong. He said that the attack against him showed that Wahhabists wanted to take control over Drenica.

"I was not attacked by accident. Extremists are trying to take over Drenica. I have a strong conviction that if they take over Drenica then the whole of Kosovo is lost. I say this because there are no Serbs or Roma here and they had to find something to divide us here. This is the greatest evil that Drenica, Kosovo, and all Albanians face," Mullah Osman said. "I do not care about the injuries to my body, but my soul hurts because around 500 people have visited me since yesterday. I never thought that I would be attacked by my congregation because I buried people during the war, too, and I have reconciled over 400 families," Mullah Osman said. "Today, Rifat and Murat Jashari came to visit me and it meant so much to me (he sighs and his lip shivers when he talks about the Jashari family). When I saw tears in Rifat's eyes, I was touched because he did not cry even when he buried 20 members of his family," Mulla Osman said with tears in his eyes. He added that he had been the only imam who went to the funeral of Adem Jashari and his family.

[box] Appeal to Government

Mullah Osman appeals to the government and international institutions to take the issue of Wahhabism very seriously.

"I urge the government and the prime minister to be vigilant because Wahhabism and extremism have spread their roots throughout Kosovo. First, they want to take over the BIK. After that, they will try to take over the government, police, and army and there will certainly be consequences," Mullah Osman said.

Source: Kosova Sot, Pristina, in Albanian 12 Jan 09, p6
Posted for Fair Use only.