The Islamic community is advancing numerous applications regarding both religious buildings and what it considers the necessary protection of Muslim rights in an increasingly explicit and pressing way. In fact, the Muslim community is asking for the construction of a number of mosques and religious centres in the most strategic places of the town centres, and is also demanding that the existing ones be moved; the introduction of the teaching of religion in schools; the permission for girls to wear the veil even in state schools.
Kosovo’s present constitution and the laws in force do not allow either the teaching of religion in state schools or the use of the veil inside schools. The Islamic community has difficulty in accepting this state of things and would like to change the constitution, referring to the fact that the great majority of Kosovo’s population is Muslim. In the continuous attempt to change this type of laicity, chosen and adopted by the state in the constitution, the community itself is supported by two small parties, which are part of the present government and sit in parliament, and is promoting a series of actions aiming at ‘increasing the awareness’ of the Muslim citizens on the subject.
The point is that with this action the position of a number of representatives is becoming radicalised, as they present today’s situation as being discriminating for Muslims and introduce elements into the debate that tend to distance positions, thereby enlarging disparities to foster the emergence of extremist opinions.
Recently many organisations of Muslim origin have been founded locally which are encouraging changes in Muslim behaviour.
Among these is ‘Bashkohu’ (Join us) which has joined together various religious organisations for young people of Islamic origin. It is led by Fuad Ramiqi, militant, representative of the European Islamic Network in Kosovo, who took part in the mission by the Turkish ship that attempted to break the block on Gaza some months ago. Every Friday this organisation assembles over 200 people who, blocking the main street of the capital, actually protest for the transformation of the constitution by exerting pressure on local institutions and the government.
Little by little this is bringing about an increase in the harsh declarations of certain Muslim religious leaders against the Catholics. It is not infrequent for the figure of Blessed Mother Teresa or the Cathedral situated in Pristina dedicated to her or other Catholic and laical figures to be the target of violent attacks. This is often the subject of various articles, forums and debates reported on Internet: the hatred towards whoever wears the crucifix is being fuelled and the Catholic figures that have marked the history of the country are being damaged.
The climate of relations between Christians and Muslims is therefore changing. The conditions for a violent escalation do not yet exist, but the relations between religious communities and the actions of certain Muslim leaders must be monitored. In same way that Kosovo is a young state that is maturing at a political level, it still has to make huge steps at a religious level too towards building a future of stability and peaceful integration among its different communities.