Erdogan’s Islamic Vehicle to the Balkans: Ottoman Symbolism in Kosovo

Hits: 773

A billboard at a construction site, with a photo of an Ottoman-style mosque with four minarets and the flag of Turkey, was erected recently in the center of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. With less than 2 million people, Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, is the home of over 800 mosques. Now the Islamic Community of Kosovo is building the “Central Mosque” at an estimated cost of $35- $40 million. Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is financing the project.

The Diyanet also financed the building of a similar mosque on a 10,000-square-meter parcel of land on George W. Bush Street in Tirana, Albania, the largest mosque in the Balkans, along with dozens of other mosques across neighboring countries. Turkey’s president Erdogan has put in the field two state organizations, Diyanet and the Turkish Development Agency (TIKA), as vehicles through which Turkey could enhance its Islamic influence in the Balkans.

Diyanet is the official state institution whose role is “to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshiping places.” Diyanet is also responsible for the religious affairs of the Turkish diaspora. In Germany alone, it administers 970 mosques with imams trained by the organization.

Austria was the first country to realize that the mosques built with Erdogan’s money are used for political purposes to promote his Islamic agenda. In June 2018, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz ordered the closing of seven mosques built by Diyanet, and deported 60 imams and their families with ties to Turkey as part of the ‘fight against political Islam.’

In February 2016, German law enforcement revealed that clerics from the organization were involved in espionage against Gülen’s followers. Two years ago, Cumhuriyet, an independent Turkish newspaper, reported that Diyanet was very active in collecting intelligence, specifically on the activities of Gülen sympathizers in 38 countries across Europe, including Germany and the Balkans. Accusations of espionage by the organization have existed since the 1990s, but these revelations pointed to far more extensive operations than were previously thought.

Meanwhile, Diyanet has extended its religious program to countries whose connection to Ottoman history is tenuous by building over 100 mosques outside Turkey. The president of Diyanet, Ali Erbaş, said that they have extremely strong relations with Balkan countries and stressed that this cooperation will continue in the future, especially in relation to religious education, services, and publications. He emphasized the importance and affinity of Turkey to the Balkans and added,

“The Balkans have a special place for us. Our historical ties will continue as they have done in the past.”

Ironically, while most of the Balkan countries suffer from unemployment, lack of foreign investments, and rampant poverty, Erdogan’s investments are focused on mosques and religious educational institutions at a time when Kosovo’s unemployment rate is 30%.

Lulzim Peci, former Ambassador of Kosovo to Sweden and Executive Director of the Kosovo Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED), is one of the most critical voices in Kosovo against Erdogan’s political Islamic scheme. He agrees that the mosques built in Kosovo are political establishments to promulgate Erdogan’s Islamist vision.

“In the case of Kosovo and Albania, the tens of millions of dollars invested in building mosques has to do with the symbol of Turkish supremacy and influence, not only religious but also political”, says Peci.

Erdogan’s enormous investments in Ottoman symbolism are designed to influence the mindset of the population in Kosovo and increase the pro-Turkish-Islamist sentiments on the present and future generations. The Islamic ideology that Diyanet promotes caused wide-spread indignation even in Turkey. Diyanet stated that girls can become pregnant and therefore get married at the age of 9 years old, and boys at the age of 12. Thus, the concerns over Diyanet activities are not limited to building mosques, but its cultural and societal influence based on radical Islam.

One day following the failed coup in Turkey, crowds of Albanians and Bosniaks in Macedonia, Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo demonstrated in support of Erdogan and his government.

“It clearly visualized the potential and mechanisms that Erdogan has in the Balkans and the Diaspora, on which he capitalizes and uses whenever he wants”, says Xhemal Ahmeti, a historian and expert on Southeast European issues.

“Unfortunately, Albanian mosques thus, are confirming the thesis of Swiss Islamist Saida Keller-Messahli in her book Islamic Centrifuge in Switzerland, where Albanian mosques in fact are radical centers serving this kind of Islamic agenda for the radicalization of Albanian Muslims in favor of Erdogan’s politics”, says Ahmeti.

Visar Duriqi, a Kosovo journalist specializing in religious affairs, said that the project for the construction of the mosque with Turkish funds sends a clear political message by Erdogan to the effect that he has control over this region.

“Kosovo” says Duriqi “is a country that does not need more religious buildings, certainly not ones funded by Erdogan.”

Mosques are increasingly being used to spread political Islamic ideologies to a point where only limited room is left for actual prayers.

“It is no longer a question of whether those establishments are necessary, because the goal is to build as much as possible in order to strengthen the political influence from the Middle Eastern countries and Erdogan’s Turkey”, says Xhelal Neziri, an experienced investigative reporter from Macedonia.

In the countries with majority Christian populations in the Balkans, such as Serbia, Macedonia, and Croatia, Turkey is investing in major development projects, while in Albania the investments are geared mainly toward building Islamic religious institutes.

“It has been shown that the most powerful and sustainable influence in this region, especially among Albanians, is made precisely through the instrumentalization of the religion”, says Neziri.

To be sure, anyone who even scarcely follows Erdogan’s ambitions in the Balkans cannot escape the conclusion that the Turkish leader had a specific, well-articulated Islamic agenda which he is determined to entrench in the psyche of the Balkan people by building mosques and appointing imams that follow his doctrine. It is part and parcel of Erdogan’s vision to restore elements of the Ottoman Empire under his leadership.

Erdogan himself and many other Turkish officials have openly spoke about their dream that by 2023, the centenary of modern Turkey, the country will enjoy as much sway and influence that was once enjoyed by the Ottomans. Erdogan uses Diyanet as one of his main vehicles to that end.

For the Balkan states, this will certainly turn out to be nightmarish unless they prevent Erdogan from exploiting them in the name of Allah, while debasing Islam to serve his long-term menacing plot.


Originally published on 2018-10-19

About the authors:

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. alon@alonben-meir.com  Web: www.alonben-meir.com

Arbana Xharra authored a series of investigative reports on religious extremists and Turkey’s Islamic agenda operating in the Balkans. She has won numerous awards for her reporting, and was a 2015 recipient of the International Women of Courage Award from the US State Department.

Source: Global Research

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

READ MORE!
Oliver Stone’s American History: “We’re not under Threat. We are the Threat”
As he launches his new TV series offering a critical view of US overseas exploits, the film director tells MEE he didn’t always see it that way. American controversies are Oliver Stone’s forte. The Hollywood movie director has turned his cameras on the assassination of John F Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 attacks. But, when researching his television series, The Untold History of the United States, it was American exploits in the Middle East that left him with the most lasting impression, he told Middle East Eye on Wednesday. “When I studied the untold history, one thing that really hit me hard was ...
READ MORE
Understanding Genocide and our Remembrance as Greeks
Last week Pontian Greeks throughout the world justifiably recognized a tragic day in their history that has come to be known as the Pontian Genocide.I wrote about the anniversary, obscure to most people around me who are not well-versed in Greek history and even had to repeatedly change my auto-correct on my computer, which insisted on changing the word Pontian to Pontiac.This anniversary was followed by another recognition of yet another genocide of Greeks— officially commemorated on April 6 and recalling the tragic events targeting the Greeks of Eastern Thrace— the region known today as European Turkey or the lands ...
READ MORE
Macedonization of Macedonia
As a matter of historical fact, a separate Macedonian ethnonational identity did not exist until the second half of the 19th century. This is partly due to the fact that Macedonia was ruled by Ottoman Empire for a longer period of time: from 1371 to 1912. It is known that Ottoman authorities did not recognize any kind of ethnonational or ethnolinguistic identities but rather only the confessional (millet-system). Therefore, the Christians of Macedonia were not differentiated between themselves on the ethnic bases. Furthermore, Macedonian territories were inhabited by different ethnic, linguistic and religious groups (Slavic- and Greek-speaking Christians, Turkish- and ...
READ MORE
How Kosovo was Turned into Fertile Ground for ISIS
Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store. The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression. Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this ...
READ MORE
The State-Name of “Macedonia”?
PrefaceThe “Macedonian Question” is today actual for several reasons of whom two are of the fundamental importance: 1. The Albanian secession in the FYROM; and 2. The Greek dispute with the FYROM authorities over several issues.[1] For the matter of illustration, for instance, Greece is so far blocking Macedonia’s joining NATO and the EU because of an on-going dispute between the FYROM and Greece. The main disputable issue is the title of “Macedonia” used in the country’s Constitution in the form of the official state-name as the Republic of Macedonia.[2] When the ex-Yugoslav Socialist Republic of Macedonia voted for independence ...
READ MORE
The Macedonian Name Deal Threatens to Erase European Identity
The Liberal-Globalists are carrying out another socio-political experiment in the Balkan petri dish, this time using the Macedonians as lab rats for testing how to most effectively erode a people’s identity before rolling out their weaponized model for replicating this on a continental scale, which they hope will enable them to erase the various nationalisms of Europe in their quest to transform the EU into a “federation of regions”. The Republic of Macedonia and Greece reached a tentative deal to change the former’s constitutional name to the so-called “Republic of North Macedonia” as a “compromise” for Athens agreeing to Skopje’s membership ...
READ MORE
Lithuania: Stamped Out Truth
The contemporary Lithuania uses the official interpretation of bloody events that took place in Vilnius on January 13, 1991 as an ideological foundation for Russophobia-based confrontation with its eastern neighbor. It says “the Soviet soldiers committed an intentional murder of 13 unarmed people and one special operations serviceman”. The truth about what really happened, as well as the doubts over the official interpretation, are punishable crimes.The Lithuanian authorities have been trying to get Algirdas Paleckis condemned by court for some years. He is a young politician and a diplomat, the leader of Lithuanian Socialist People’s Front (SPF), a holder of ...
READ MORE
From a Sunday to a Monday in August, the Sixth Day
The genesis of the world, the myth of creation speaks of seven days.1 Six days of divine labour whereon the seventh the lord of the universe rested. No one, not even the angelic general staff of the combined heavenly hosts, could fathom what led the Creator to engage in this feat.2 But tradition has established that man — here the gendered reference is intended — as being created in the image of the Creator — aka “God” — should also rest on the seventh day. Depending on the sect into which one was born and bred, this may be called ...
READ MORE
The Russian World and European Civilization
In recent years, both the Western as well as the liberal Russian press have had a lot to say about Russian “barbarianism,” as if to contrast it with European “civilization.” But a closer inspection – through the prism of the heroic pages of Russian history – of the two groups’ moral ideals and actual lives presents us with quite a different picture.For example, in pagan times, ancient Russians never worshipped a god of war, although their contemporaries in Europe were transfixed by their own martial deity, constructing an entire epic narrative around the concepts of war and conquest.After defeating the ...
READ MORE
Disappeared People in Kosovostan
During and after the the Kosovo conflict in 1998-1999, the KLA abducted and kidnapped over 2,000 Kosovo civilians, Serbs, Roma, and Albanians that opposed the KLA, who were tortured and murdered. Ten years after the conflict, these 2,000 remain missing. Approximately 1,000 to 1,3000 Kosovo Serbs are missing and presumed dead. How did they die? UNMIK occupation forces have been reluctant to investigate these mass murders of Kosovo civilians. What happened to them? Evidence has emerged that the KLA ran a series of prison camps, in Kosovo and in Albania itself, where they tortured and murdered Kosovo Serbs, Roma, and ...
READ MORE
Being the Only Candidate: DPS is Losing Elections in Niksic (Montenegro)
As the Niksic (Montenegro) local elections approach, the situation is becoming more and more fascinating. On one hand, the Montenegrin opposition, aiming at the transparency and integrity of the government, boycotted the plebiscite in the country's second largest city and turned it into a show – elections with no choice. On the other is the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists which has been forming the conditions for its unlimited rule while violating the interests of the Montenegrin people. Exploiting its ultimate power, DPS withdrew the immunity of the opposition leaders and is set to win the elections with simply no rally. The ruling ...
READ MORE
Why NATO/US’s “Collateral Damage” and “Errors” are not a War Crime?
Many innocent civilians were killed in American military interventions around the world – from Vietnam and Serbia to Iran and Afghanistan, because of the alleged “errors” or “collateral damage” – without consequences for civil and military leadership. In addition to political, military and every other power, Americans secured itself with legal mechanisms.Twenty-two civilians, wounded and doctors, among them three children, were killed in the American bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. Americans acknowledged the error and apologized. The President of the United States expressed his condolences, the military leadership announced three independent investigations. “Doctors without borders” ...
READ MORE
Criticism of Israeli Policy is not Anti-Semitic
I was provoked to write this discussion of what is and what isn’t anti-Semitism by an article in Ha’aretz on the “controversy” created by the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to George P. Smith. According to the reporting, Smith is not only a brilliant scientist whose work has helped lead to the creation of new drugs that can treat cancer and a range of autoimmune diseases, he is also an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli policies. The Ha’aretz piece notes that Smith has long been “a target of pro-Israel groups” and is listed ...
READ MORE
Is Political Islam Compatible with Democracy?
At the dawn of the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, diplomats, politicians, and intellectuals debated a fresh question: what role can Islamist political parties play in a fledgling democracy?It wasn’t an esoteric or academic debating point. In the tumult that followed the collapse of dictatorial governments in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, groups of radical Islamists had organized themselves into political parties and attempting to use the ballot box to get them to where the cartridge box could never take them—control of national governments. This was a new strategy on the part of Islamists. Ever since their emergence in the 1940s and their ...
READ MORE
Croatia’s Disrespect for Jasenovac Victims Has a Long Tradition
For the fourth year in a row, representatives of Croatia’s Jewish and Serbian communities, as well as anti-fascists, will boycott the official commemoration of the victims of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac on April 14.That means there will again be a separate, unofficial and much more well-attended commemoration for more than 83,000 Serbs, Roma, Jews and anti-fascists killed at the camp by the Croatian WWII fascist Ustasa movement, which will be held at the site on April 12.Representatives of the Roma community, Jasenovac’s second biggest victim group, will again attend both commemorations.For the fourth year in a ...
READ MORE
Libya: Is this Kosovo all over Аgain?
Another NATO Intervention?Less than a dozen years after NATO bombed Yugoslavia into pieces, detaching the province of Kosovo from Serbia, there are signs that the military alliance is gearing up for another victorious little “humanitarian war”, this time against Libya. The differences are, of course, enormous. But let’s look at some of the disturbing similarities.A demonized leaderAs “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today. The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been ...
READ MORE
Who is Angela Merkel – A Person of the Year (2015)?
Aleksandar Vučić, Adolf Hitler and Angela Merkel Angela Merkel as Stasi informer in 1972? Angela Merkel (at that time Kasner), age 17 in 1972, marching happily together with the DDR officer in her FDJ uniform? Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. [wpedon id="4696" align="left"] Angela Merkel with a war criminal Hashim Tachi, a ...
READ MORE
The Media Is Lying to You on Macedonia. US Is Backing an Illegal Coup D’état
Media narrative: Hateful protestors stormed the Macedonian parliament after an ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi was elected speaker for the first time. Truth: Protestors stormed the parliament because Xhaferi was declared speaker in an illegal, unconstitutional manner as part of an ongoing coup d'état. It had nothing whatsoever to do with his ethnicity. Even though Xhaferi was "elected" in an irregular manner, the US and EU have already stated they recognize his appointment. This now paves the way for ethnic Albanian parties and the smaller of two main Macedonian parties (Social Democrats) to proclaim a government without the constitutionally required go-ahead from the President of the Republic. The latter has defied ...
READ MORE
The Idea of Pan-Slavic Ethnolinguistic Kinship and Reciprocity in Dalmatia and Croatia, 1477–1706
Abstract: This paper sets out to examine and clarify the historical development of the ideological concept of Pan-Slavism, which was created by the writers of Dalmatia and Croatia at the time of the late Renaissance and early Baroque (from the end of the 15th century to the very beginning of the 18th century). The literary works of that time by many of Dalmatia’s and Croatia’s writers deal with the ethnolinguistic aspect of Pan-Slavic unity, solidarity, kinship and reciprocity. Their writings established an ideological framework for making both Pan-Slavic common national identity and program of the united single national state of ...
READ MORE
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija (now part of Macedonia), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the Axiss powers and ...
READ MORE
Oliver Stone’s American History: “We’re not under Threat. We are the Threat”
Understanding Genocide and our Remembrance as Greeks
Macedonization of Macedonia
How Kosovo was Turned into Fertile Ground for ISIS
The State-Name of “Macedonia”?
The Macedonian Name Deal Threatens to Erase European Identity
Lithuania: Stamped Out Truth
From a Sunday to a Monday in August, the Sixth Day
The Russian World and European Civilization
Disappeared People in Kosovostan
Being the Only Candidate: DPS is Losing Elections in Niksic (Montenegro)
Why NATO/US’s “Collateral Damage” and “Errors” are not a War Crime?
Criticism of Israeli Policy is not Anti-Semitic
Is Political Islam Compatible with Democracy?
Croatia’s Disrespect for Jasenovac Victims Has a Long Tradition
Libya: Is this Kosovo all over Аgain?
Who is Angela Merkel – A Person of the Year (2015)?
The Media Is Lying to You on Macedonia. US Is Backing an Illegal Coup D’état
The Idea of Pan-Slavic Ethnolinguistic Kinship and Reciprocity in Dalmatia and Croatia, 1477–1706
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share