Kosovo Islamic Community opposes joining fighting in Syria
Kosovo's highest Islamic institution issued a statement after the police confirmed it arrested six terror suspects, some whom have fought in Syria.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 18/11/13
The Kosovo Islamic Community, headed by Mufti Naum Ternava (pictured above), issued a statement against Kosovo Muslims joining the war in Syria. [Kosovo Islamic Community]
The call came after Kosovo police confirmed it arrested six people on charges of terrorism and illegal possessions of weapons, at least two of whom had fought in Syria.
"[W]e send the message and let know all those who have taken such a path, not to fall prey to groups and individuals that want to make 'jihad' through the Syrian people's tragedy," the organisation said in a statement on November 13th.
Going to Syria to fight has nothing to do with Islamic principles, but serves to prolong the life of the Bashar al-Assad regime as well as the suffering of the Syrian people, the statement said.
The statement also appealed to parents and youth not to fall prey to calls by suspicious organisations which it referred to a "people without an address."
"We do not have young people [to spare] to be recruited by unknown people in the name of Islamic faith," it added.
Experts quickly welcomed the call by Kosovo's leading institution on Islamic faith because it previously had been silent on the issue. There are as many as 1,000 volunteer fighters from Europe taking part in the conflict in Syria.
"This is a humane call to save the lives of Kosovo's young people so that they return to their families. [I am] saying that, having in mind the very hard and often unclear situation in Syria," Valon Murtezaj, professor of international negotiations at the IESEG School of Management in Paris, told SETimes.
Pristina resident Serbeze Haxhiaj, a public relations worker, said the organisation's silence to this point had created doubts among some about the conflict.
"The suspicion for an indirect support by BIK for those groups was reinforced by the statements of the son of Mufti Naim Ternava, who issued a call on the social networks to go and fight in Syria," Haxhiaj told SETimes.
Valdete Osmani said the call is especially important because it uses its authority to appeal primarily to young, impressionable people not to be misled.
"That does not mean, however, that I do not feel the pain of the civilian population in Syria. But I just do not want people of my age fall prey to suspicious organisations, which I do not believe have pure intentions," Osmani told SETimes.
The Islamic Community should have repeatedly proclaimed this position, explained what is going on in Syria and sensitised believers about what may happen, said Ymer Mushkolaj, political commentator for the daily Express.