Islamic supremacist persecution of Christians in Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Indonesia? No problem. A statue of Mother Theresa? Now that’s going too far!
“Kosovo Muslims Resent New Mother Teresa Statue,” by Petrit Collaku for Balkan Insight, May 26 (thanks to Twostellas):
Muslims in the western town of Peja are far from happy with the town council’s decision to let a US-based Albanian society put up a statue to Mother Teresa.
A Muslim youth group in Peja, the Muslim Youth Forum, has asked the mayor to withdraw the decision, saying it does not represent the interests of the Muslim community and is an insult to a town that is 98 per cent Muslim.
The group said it had collected 2,000 signatures already on a petition opposing the statue, and if statues were to go up at all, they should be of heroes from the independence war with Serbia.
“This decision by the authorities has been lobbied for and financed by the Catholic Church’s service service, Opus Dei,” Noli Zhita told Balkan Insight.
He said that many Muslims of Peja felt insulted by the decision, which formed part of an ongoing plan to Christianise the public space in Kosovo.
The youth group said a further point was that Mother Teresa was neither a true Albanian, nor from Kosovo.
“She was of Vlach origin, born in Macedonia. She is not an Albanian,” Zhita said.
The celebrated and now beatified Catholic missionary, famed for her work in the slums of India, had done nothing for Kosovo or Peja but had spent her life serving a foreign religious organisation, they said.
So far, the mayor of Peja is no mood to back down.
The municipality responded positively on March 11 to the request from a group known as the Council for Mother Teresa Statues, run by Catholic Albanians in New York, asking for space in town to put up the statue.
Mayor Ali Berisha said he had received the letter of protest from the Muslim youth group on Wednesday.
But, downplaying the relevance of Mother Teresa’s religious identity, he said her work for the poor and dying transcended the whole issue.
“I think that there should not be a religious connotation to this question, but a humanitarian one alone,” Berisha told Balkan Insight.
One might have thought so, yes.
He said the request for the statue had been discussed several times in the local assembly and a majority of councillors had decided in favour.
He also said he had discussed the matter with head of Islamic Community in Peja who showed no sign of disagreement.
“We will go ahead with our plan,” Berisha said.
The Muslim community in Kosovo has felt on the backfoot lately. Although comprising the vast majority of the 2 million or so population, the small Catholic community has often been better at headline-grabbing initiatives in recent years.
A new Catholic cathedral, also named after Mother Teresa, was inaugurated in the centre of the capital, Pristina, last September, and is still under construction.
The Muslim community claimed the cathedral was far too large for the needs of such a small religious community, while adding that Muslim believers often could not get into mosques for prayers because they were too few and too small….
“The Muslim community claimed the cathedral was far too large for the needs of such a small religious community.” That’s interesting. The same thing could be said of the Ground Zero Mosque. Indeed, the leaders of the Ground Zero Mosque initiative have done their best to obscure the small size of their community, even going so far as to close some neighboring mosques in order to swell the numbers at the Ground Zero Mosque site.