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!
German Researchers: Berlin Owes Greece €185 Bln in WW II Reparations
Two German researchers claim that Germany owes Greece 185 billion euros in World War II reparations, of which less that 1 percent has been paid. German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reviewed a book called “Reparation Debt Mortgages of German Cccupation in Greece and Europe”, in which historian Karl Heinz Roth and researcher Hartmut Rubner, present documents of the dispute and conclude that, even though Berlin claims the war reparations issue was resolved in 1960, in fact nothing has been done about it. According to their calculations, based on the study of mainly German documents, the total debt to Greece is 185 billion euros. The book ...
READ MORE
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
The following text by Michel Chossudovsky was presented in Seoul, South Korea in the context of the Korea Armistice Day Commemoration, 27 July 2013 A Message for Peace. Towards a Peace Agreement and the Withdrawal of US Troops from Korea Introduction Armistice Day, 27 July 1953 is day of Remembrance for the People of Korea. It is a landmark date in the historical struggle for national reunification and sovereignty. I am privileged to have this opportunity of participating in the 60th anniversary commemoration of Armistice Day on July 27, 2013. I am much indebted to the “Anti-War, Peace Actualized, People Action” movement for this opportunity ...
READ MORE
Imperialism and the Politics of Torture: Towards a Global Secret Police Force
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police ForceThe Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. ...
READ MORE
Pax Americana: Who are the Neocon Imperialists?
Neocon 101: What do Neoconservatives Believe?“Neocons” believe that the United States should not be ashamed to use its unrivaled power – forcefully if necessary – to promote its values around the world. Some even speak of the need to cultivate a US empire. Neoconservatives believe modern threats facing the US can no longer be reliably contained and therefore must be prevented, sometimes through preemptive military action.Most neocons believe that the US has allowed dangers to gather by not spending enough on defense and not confronting threats aggressively enough. One such threat, they contend, was Saddam Hussein and his pursuit of ...
READ MORE
Made to Order Spy Affair Rocks Serbia
A strange spy affair broke out in Balkan Casablanca, aka Serbia, on Wednesday. Were NATO “advisers” and liaison personnel embedded in the Serbian army command finally caught red-handed by vigilant Serbian counter-intelligence operatives, purloining secrets? Not this time. (Something along those lines actually did happen in 2002; it was when former armed forces chief of staff Momcilo Perisic was caught on camera in a Belgrade restaurant handing over secret information for cash to CIA’s Johnny-on-the-spot, John Neighbor.) But what allegedly occurred this time was not a boring rerun of the Perisic affair, although the basic contours of the unimaginative scenario ...
READ MORE
Obama’s Ukrainian Coup Caused 2.5 Million Ukrainian Refugees into Russia
On Tuesday, March 7th, Russia’s top parliamentarian dealing with the Ukrainian refugee influx into Russia — dealing, that is, with the people who have fled Ukraine as a result of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych — presented the first-ever comprehensive number of asylum-applicants from Ukraine who have received asylum there after that February 2014 coup. The Russian government had never before publicly provided a number, but does have an established system of processing refugees, including assignment of official refugee status, which «allows the recipient various social benefits, including unemployment compensation» and so each Ukrainian refugee has ...
READ MORE
How the War in Ukraine Started
Clear and convincing evidence will be presented here that, under U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. Government had a detailed plan, which was already active in June 2013, to take over Russia's main naval base, which is in Sevastopol in Crimea, and to turn it into a U.S. naval base. There can now be no question that the war in Ukraine started, and resulted from, the U.S. Government's plan to take over all of Ukraine, and especially to take over that Russian naval base, in Crimea, which then was in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine didn't start at the time when ...
READ MORE
Hidden Manipulators: Who is Behind the “Kosova Independence” Campaign?
The Balkans conflicts of the 1990s saw a massive revival and resurgence of US and Western media propaganda and infowar techniques. The “new” advocacy journalists recalled the “yellow journalism” of William Randolph Hearst, who helped induce the US to engage in the imperialistic or colonial war in Cuba in 1898, the Spanish-American War. This marked the emergence of the US as an expansionist global imperial and colonial power, like Britain, France, Spain, and Germany had been. Hearst was credited with manufacturing or “furnishing” the war in Cuba. Frederic Remington, his correspondent in Cuba, reported that nothing was happening in Cuba, that ...
READ MORE
Pearl Harbor Day and the Fantasy of US Victimhood
The United States is indisputably the world’s most frequent and extensive wager of aggressive war, largest occupier of foreign lands, and biggest weapons dealer to the world. But when the United States peeps out from under the blankets where it lies shivering with fear, it sees itself as an innocent victim. It has no holiday to keep any victorious battle in everyone’s mind. It has a holiday to remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — and now also one, perhaps holier still, to recall, not the “shock and awe” destruction of Baghdad, but the crimes of September 11, 2001, ...
READ MORE
Confession of a CIA Agent: They Gave Us Millions to Dismember Yugoslavia
We bribed parties and politicians who have enticed hate between the nations. Our ultimate goal was to enslave you!WebTribune publishes their interview with former CIA agent Robert Baer during his promotion tour in Quebec for upcoming book “Secrets of the White House” last week.My boss, who was formerly a US Senator, stressed repeatedly that some kind of scam would go down in Bosnia. A month before the alleged genocide in Srebrenica, he told me that the town would be headline news around the world and ordered us to call the media.Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, has authored many books ...
READ MORE
The Disaster That Bill Clinton Created in Bosnia by Backing Muslims Against the Serbs
Two decades later Bosnia is still suffering the consequences. ISIS has declared the Balkans the next front for the Islamic Caliphate, and in remote mountain villages, Muslims are already flying the ISIS flag.Central Bosnia in 2015Russia Insider (h/t Maksim)  The Balkans is the latest arena where the West is trying to circumcise any attempt of Russia to regainits influence. This anti-Serbian resolution and initiative is the part of the broader strategy and the latest Western attempt to demonize Serbs and delegitimize pro-Russian Republic of Srpska (Serbian part of Bosnia) in an effort to forcefully centralize Bosnia and give the driving seat to ...
READ MORE
Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction
From Libya and Egypt to Syria and Yemen, the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is undergoing unprecedented tumult and chaos. To understand the current breakdown of states and society, examining the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 that laid the groundwork for this ongoing regional anarchy is indispensable. Global Research brings to the attention of its readers the newly released book by Christopher L. Brennan.  Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction (available here), propounds an incisive and timely analysis. The book views this widespread Arab upheaval, not as authentic grass roots movements for democracy, but as a US-engineered destabilization. Below are ...
READ MORE
Trump’s Fascism vs Obama’s Fascism
Barack Obama was the only U.S. President who at the United Nations defended nazism — racist fascism — and Holocaust-denial. It received almost no reporting by the press at the time (or subsequently). But his successor President Donald Trump could end up being removed from office because he said that racist fascists are just the same as are people who demonstrate publicly against them. Trump’s politically stupid (not to say callous) remark became viral, and apparently the press (which had ignored Obama’s defense of nazism at the U.N.) just won’t let go of Trump’s statement unless and until he becomes ...
READ MORE
A Brief History of Fascism in the United States
“We could become the first country to go fascist through free elections.” — William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third ReichGenerally, we avoid using the word “fascism” in polite company, and until recently, a person pointing out parallels between Nazi Germany and the current United States would invite elevated eyelids along with the outworn charge of sounding like a “conspiracy theorist“. The current electoral cycle seems to be changing that, so I will trust that now is the right time to convey some ideas I’ve been marinating regarding fascism in my US Homeland. The ruling plutocrats are clearly ferrying the ...
READ MORE
On Which Principle Ukraine’s Borders are Formed?
The German occupation forces were those who have been the first to create and recognize a short-lived state’s independence of Ukraine in January 1918 during the time of their-own inspired and supported anti-Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917−1921. As reoccupied by the Bolshevik Red Army, the eastern and southern parts of the present-day territory of (a Greater) Ukraine joined in 1922 the USSR as a separate Soviet Socialist Republic (without Crimea). According to the 1926 Soviet census of Crimea, the majority of its population were the Russians (382.645). The second-largest ethnic group were the Tartars (179.094). Therefore, a Jew V. I. ...
READ MORE
Genocide and the Thanksgiving Myth
Note: We are republishing this essay by S. Brian Willson describing the true history of genocide in the United States which stands in stark contrast to the myth of Thanksgiving because of its popularity with readers and its educational value.The Defining and Enabling Experience of Our “Civilization” As we again plan to celebrate what US “Americans”call Thanksgiving, let us pause for a moment of reflection. Let us recognize that accounts of the first Thanksgiving are mythological, and that the holiday is actually a grotesque celebration of our arrogant ethnocentrism built on genocide.Native Americans in the Caribbean greeted their 1492 European invaders ...
READ MORE
Kurdish Intentions to Join SAA: Secret Deal against the U.S.?
According to Inside Syria Media Center military sources in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), SDF-Kurds will join the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) as “Northern Syria Protection units” after the establishment of the federal system in Syria.A Rojava official and the joint chief of defense in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), Rezan Gilo stated that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have no problem joining the Syrian army if a federal state is awarded in northern Syria (Kurdish autonomous territories as part of the federal Syria). They are now in process of considering the possibility of joining the SAA.“There is no problem for our ...
READ MORE
Netanyahu Victory Lays Bare Israel as Racist, Colonial State
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is elating after his right-wing Likud Party secured a firm victory in the Israeli elections on March 17. It was a very close race against the Zionist Union Party, led by Isaac Herzog. Our next guest, Shir Hever, in an interview he did with us last month, predicted that Prime Minister Netanyahu would win in spite of many strikes against him at the time. So, defying election polls leading up to the election, Prime Minister Netanyahu has ...
READ MORE
Resolving the “Serbian Question” – One 19th-Century Project (II)
Part I Ethnolinguistic Serbdom Serbia’s Prince Miloš’s schemes to solve the „Serbian Question“ were based exclusively on the historical (state) rights of the Serbs. However, during his reign, a new and cardinal dimension on an understanding of Serbian national identity and, therefore, the idea of the creation of the national state of the Serbs was introduced into Serbian political thought by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1787–1864) who framed the concept of a linguistic Serbdom. In his brief essay “Срби сви и свуда” (“Serbs All and Everywhere”),[1] V. S. Karadžić established the linguistic criteria for determining Serbian national self-identity and reformulation of the whole concept ...
READ MORE
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, ...
READ MORE
German Researchers: Berlin Owes Greece €185 Bln in WW II Reparations
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
Imperialism and the Politics of Torture: Towards a Global Secret Police Force
Pax Americana: Who are the Neocon Imperialists?
Made to Order Spy Affair Rocks Serbia
Obama’s Ukrainian Coup Caused 2.5 Million Ukrainian Refugees into Russia
How the War in Ukraine Started
Hidden Manipulators: Who is Behind the “Kosova Independence” Campaign?
Pearl Harbor Day and the Fantasy of US Victimhood
Confession of a CIA Agent: They Gave Us Millions to Dismember Yugoslavia
The Disaster That Bill Clinton Created in Bosnia by Backing Muslims Against the Serbs
Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction
Trump’s Fascism vs Obama’s Fascism
A Brief History of Fascism in the United States
On Which Principle Ukraine’s Borders are Formed?
Genocide and the Thanksgiving Myth
Kurdish Intentions to Join SAA: Secret Deal against the U.S.?
Netanyahu Victory Lays Bare Israel as Racist, Colonial State
Resolving the “Serbian Question” – One 19th-Century Project (II)
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share