Visoki Decani Monastery, now being shelled
Is jihad beginning again in Kosovo? From Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic, managing editor of the National Interest, a draft of a piece that will be posted in final form tomorrow on another site. (Thanks to Jim.)
A pogrom started in Europe yesterday. A UN official is quoted as saying that “Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo.” Serbs are being murdered and their 800 year old churches are aflame. More than two-thirds of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever. By these deeds the Albanians have shown that all their speeches about democracy and multiethnicity, and the naÃ¯ve repetition of them by the international community, are false. These words too are burning, as is the hope in the hearts of right-thinking policymakers across the world that Kosovo’s barbarians can be civilized at little cost to the West.
Just as in the 1930s, a rumor became a fact and prearranged plans were put into action. Members of the victimized community, in this case, Serbian children, were accused of chasing four Albanian children into a river and causing the death of three of them. Hours later, what passes for authority in Kosovo, the UN Mission, issued a statement that the accusation against the Serbs was false, that the surviving Albanian child had told the UN that there had been no Serbs–yet the violence escalated. And today it continues unabated.
Beginning in the ethnically-divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, in the northern third of the entity, when a horde of armed Albanians crossed into the Serbian half of the city, breaching a Polish peacekeepers’ line, the ensuing violence killed half a dozen people of both ethnic groups.
Busloads of Albanians were transported to areas where Serbs are concentrated–in some cases, clashing with international peacekeepers. In some areas, entire Serbian villages have been burned to the ground. The UN, ever courageous, evacuated its missions from at least three cities in Kosovo. In two of them, Serbian Orthodox churches are in flames. And it has only gotten worse during the night.
Monasteries and churches dating back to the 12th century are burning; some are already destroyed. Their cultural significance–not only for Christians but for all humanity–is irreplaceable. Photographs and memories are all the remain of these objects of civilization. And the UN fled.
The wave of violence has been too well-planned and coordinated to be a spontaneous reaction to rumors. “It was planned in advance”, said Derek Chappell, the UN’s Kosovo mission spokesman. All that was needed was a pretext. It is clear that some in the Kosovo Albanian leadership believe that by cleansing all remaining Serbs from the entity (having already achieved the cleansing of two-thirds of Kosovo’s Serbs after “liberation” in 1999) and destroying all Serbian cultural sites, they can present the international community with a fait accompli. But ethnic purity cannot be allowed to be the foundation for democracy and independence.
Upon hearing the news of the pogrom and the burning of churches in Kosovo, a small crowd of Belgraders surrounded the city’s mosque in retaliation. Windows were broken, and a fire was started. (They did the same in Serbia’s second largest city, Nis.) In contrast to the scene in Kosovo, the Serbian government dispatched several hundred police to try and control the crowd; joining them was a Serbian Orthodox bishop who tried to talk the crowd down. They did not succeed entirely. The Serbian crowd is as despicable, but it is far smaller (numbering in the hundreds, not the tens of thousands), and they had to fight government authorities and disregard the pleadings of a bishop to commit their deeds. And 78 of them have been arrested. In Kosovo, where are the Albanian politicians standing in front of the Serbian holy sites? Who was guarding the Serbian churches and villages? Why are they in flames? There are 18,000 foreign troops in Kosovo. Why are they not doing more?
The Kosovo Albanian leadership, while insisting they are capable of governing an independent state, claim that they are unable to control their constituents and stop the pogrom. So while the leader of the most influential political party in Kosovo, Hasim Thaci, travels abroad preaching the virtues of multiethnicity and a civic-based identity, all five Serbian holy sites in his own home town of Prizren have burned. Meanwhile, his political party and other Kosovo Albanian parties issue statements blaming all this on the Serbs. In the 1930s, they did this as well.
Post-June1999, Kosovo’s Serbs were willing to reject the lessons of history and try to work with–even trust their Albanian neighbors–and believe Kosovo’s Albanian politicians who promised that religious freedom and multiethnicity would be made permanent–that the values of the West would take root in Kosovo.
At the same time, Kosovo’s Serbs have for years been warning of the real nature of Albanian nationalism, and the UN and the West have thought these to be exaggerations. But as the Diocese of Kosovo’s statement from yesterday makes clear, “What has happened today and is happening this evening in Kosovo and Metohija represents a horrible defeat for the entire UN mission which has been deceiving the world for the past five years with their alleged successes when in fact they were enabling militarization.”
Murder upon murder, kidnapping upon kidnapping, arson upon arson, and now finally this pogrom–have led the Serbs to the awful realization that they are at the mercy of barbarians. This is ethnic aggression of the worst sort, “in the heart of Europe,” as Madeleine Albright famously called Kosovo before she bombed Serbia. Today we see the true face of the multiethnicity of which they all spoke so highly. And all this is happening under UN and NATO administration. Imagine how bad it could get if they get their independence.
Senator Sam Brownback, after having met Artemije, the Bishop of Kosovo, several weeks ago in Washington, wrote a letter to President George W. Bush in which he concluded “We should not consider advancing the cause of independence of a people whose first act when liberated was to ethnically cleanse a quarter of a million of their fellow citizens and destroy over a hundred of their holy sites.” What might he say now? What will we all say? Will we do nothing, just like in the 1930s?
See also this (thanks to FreedomNowNews): Albanian extremists set fire to Orthodox monastery in Kosovo.
Also this just in from the Orthodox Bishop Christodoulos:
Albanians shelling near Visoki Decani Orthodox Monastery, monks in prayer in church, U.S. reinforcements expected to arrive soon
Gracanica, March 17, 2004
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija wishes to inform the public that several mortar shells have fallen not far from Visoki Decani Monastery which were fired by Albanians at the monastery. Italian forces are presently protecting the Monastery. U.S. special forces are expected to arrive soon to reinforce defenses.
In the meanwhile the Monastery of Holy Archangels near Prizren has been evacuated because German forces were not ready to protect the monastery. The monks from Holy Archangels are safe in a German military base; however, according to some reports, the monastery has already been set on fire, as have numerous other churches in Prizren. We have also received information that the 14th century Church of the Holy Mother of God of Ljevis is in flames.
UPDATE: Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic calls these tragic incidents “ethnic aggression of the worst sort.” And it is true, of course, that ethnic factors and many other elements have coalesced to cause this strife; as I explain in Onward Muslim Soldiers, adding jihad to the already volatile mix in the Balkans only makes things worse. It is thus doubly tragic that “Belgrade’s 17th-century Barjakli mosque became the target of an hours-long attack by hooligans incited by Albanian assaults on Serbs and Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo.” It is a tragedy in itself, as is all wanton destruction, but it also makes it more difficult to get jihad out of the Balkan picture. For insofar as those involved see this conflict as a jihad, no negotiations or lasting peace are possible.
Killing a mass murderer like Yassin is one thing; attacking a mosque is another. Those who oppose jihad, and who don’t want to see it flame forth in the Balkans, must not lash out in the same way as do the mujahedin, but adhere to standards of justice, seeking out and punishing only those responsible. In this way we will show even the jihadis a better way of life, and not lose our civilization in the process of defending it.