July 28, 2008

The Bin Ladens of the Balkans, Part II

I met Shpetim Mahmudi at a covered outdoor cafe on a cold day in late spring in the ethnic Albanian region of Macedonia. Black clouds hung low over the city of Tetovo. Fat rain drops pelted the sidewalk and the awning over my head as I shivered in my light black leather jacket.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2008 1:11 AM
Comments
More fantastic and important fotos, plus the coming problems of minority Muslims in Macedonia. Your paragraph about the various church based machinations was priceless.
It's funny how so many nationalists get linked with churches who want independence for their language-tribe nation. The Slovak Catholic church was quite happy to leave the domination of the Czechs, and the Slovak ex-commie leader who led the separation is arguably more popular among some Church functionaries than the Christian dissent leader who wanted to wait until joining the EU before separating.
Church politics is probably under-studied in history with respect to people's feelings and the politicians they support.
The imporation of Arab Muslim habits on women is an ominous trend that bears watching. But if poverty is an issue, education and especially jobs are the obvious answers.
Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 28, 2008 6:14 am
But wait! Haven't the Saudis been real busy sponsoring conferences on inter-religious tolerance?!
Posted by: Barry Meislin at July 28, 2008 8:44 am
It is often surprising where we find hijabs, burkas, and the like. I was surprised to find the highest concentration of both I'd ever seen in Niagara Falls, Canada, a fact which upset one of the people I was traveling with (a friend who sees these as symbols of female oppression). It didn't seem to be one particular tour, but rather several groups coming to see the falls separately. This was our last stop in a Canadian trip made my mostly Manhattanites, and it was quite a contrast to the other places we'd gone.
Posted by: calbear at July 28, 2008 10:37 am
Michael - great article. Do you have any more details about that jewish gravestone? was it an entire jewish cemetery, or a single grave? did you ask them what a jewish grave was doing there, or how long it has been there? Thanks. - Alan
Posted by: Alan at July 28, 2008 11:20 am
Alan,
I didn't ask about the Jewish gravestone because I got distracted, so to speak, by the woman walking in with the abaya and forgot to follow up on it. So I'm an idiot. I also can't read Hebrew. Can anyone here translate what it says?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2008 11:31 am
I think it might be useful to keep in mind that Wahhabism is primarily a theological sect centred around an anthropormorphic view of God and rejection of forms of worship seen as innovative. There is no specifically wahhabi view of women's clothing anymore than there is a sufi/sunni or shia one. Plus the issue of clothing itself has only been made significant for any of these groups in the last 200 years.It isn't definative of any of them.
Secondly, I don't understand this issue of "Arabisation". African Christians wear western clothes and nobody calls that European imperialism,and why should it be if it's a free choice?
Posted by: Daniel E. at July 28, 2008 11:36 am
I was a refugee in Macedonia in 1999. I tell you, things are not as bad as they were back on those days.
I remember when I got into a fight with an Albanian in Tetovo for calling my sister a "slut" for showing off her belly and wearing mini skirts in one of the quarters of the town.
As Kosovo been freed, people there are changing drastically. Two universities have opened and many Kosovar women are teaching schools.
I think the US government should pressure Macedonia to stop allowing Arabs there and also allow Albanians to build more high schools and education institutions.
Sooner or later, they will have to reform!
Neverhtless, it takes time to change people. It will happen. It takes a generation to change people!
Posted by: TrueAlbo2006 at July 28, 2008 11:52 am
Daniel: African Christians wear western clothes and nobody calls that European imperialism
Was that always true? I don't know, but I'd be surprised if Africans didn't think so when it started.
I don't care what Albanians wear. It's their business, not mine. I pointed out the extreme difference in clothing styles in Macedonia and Kosovo because it's a visible gauge of how successful the Wahhabis are in each place. A country (like Kosovo) where 99.5 percent of the women refuse to wear a hijab is not going to become a jihad state or fall under the direction of Saudi fanatics. A European country that becomes increasingly Arabized, whether by choice or not, is going to have serious problems. Just watch.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2008 11:54 am
Regarding the jewish gravestone. Its a bit tough to make out, but I believe the last line is a date which corresponds to September, 1702 (lit: "Elul, 5462") There also appears to be a reference to "ascend Mount Moses" and "Village of Joseph" - these might be prayers or bible verses. The name of the deceased looks like "Luriel". That's all I got. I referred your site to an expert, so hopefully we'll have more soon. - Alan
Posted by: Alan at July 28, 2008 12:16 pm
The Macedonian government is worse than neglectful, actually. The state has formed an alliance of sorts with the Wahhabis, which is an extraordinary thing for a Christian-dominated government to do in a country where a third of the population are Muslims.
Posted by: medaura at July 28, 2008 1:07 pm
Re: Jewish Gravestone - oweing to vegetation in front of the stone, and degredation of the carving itself, the expert couldn't read any more than I could. Looks like this will remain a mystery for some time...
Posted by: Alan at July 28, 2008 2:59 pm
Medaura: Such conservatism is unheard of in Albania.
The difference between the two places (I saw them both on the same day) made my head spin.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2008 4:51 pm
I was about 13 years old, and visited Ohri and Tetova. This incident I reported was in Tetova. I remember perceiving overall backwardness, but I don't remember seeing women in hijabs/burqas myself. Or perhaps I wasn't sensitive enough to Islamism at that age to make such an observation, though I still think I would remember...
Perhaps it's gotten worse since then. It was 9 years ago.
...saddening.
Posted by: medaura at July 28, 2008 6:08 pm
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/29/2008 A short recon of what
Posted by: David M at July 29, 2008 9:54 am
The Wahhabis pay people to join them, and it's sad that it works. I wonder if the people would leave the religion if the money stops. Probably not after a generation of people raised a certain way...
Extremists seem to have an easy time converting poorer areas, and I never realized until now that it's probably because of the money.
Posted by: NYC Financial Planner at July 29, 2008 10:09 am
Can anyone here translate what it says?
It is hard to read, and foliage is blocking the end of each line, and along the bottom. And I am certainly no expert, but this is what it looks like to me (*** for words I can't make out):
עדינו באבו ***
*** ורך בשנים ***
**** ** *** ****
כהר משה כנר יוסף
טוגיאל ** כד לחדש
אלול התמב *****
ת
(That last letter was to make the right-left stuff come out correctly...)
My translation:
He was still in his youth ***
*** and tender in years ***
**** *** ** ****
Like the mountain of Moses like the candle of Joseph
Tugiel ** 24 of the month of
Elul 5442 ***
Posted by: David Boxenhorn at July 29, 2008 11:29 am
Bektashi Sufis are no less Islamic than the Wahhabis. They are arguably even more so. Their order is hundreds of years older, after all. But they aren't chauvinists about their religion, and they don't spend billions in petrodollars on a crusade to convert the planet.
One of the questions that always bothers me when I read about how much more radical the Wahhabis are than the ______ (fill in the blank) is where does Mohammad fit in that arc of moderation? Furthermore in the United States we always hear that it is only the Sunnis that are radical...wasn't it the Shia that planned and sponsored the attacks on the Marine Barracks? Isn't the Shia (Iran) that is sponsoring most of the attacks on Northern Israel? Is Hezb'Allah Sunni or Shia?
Posted by: Pierre Legrand at July 29, 2008 11:38 am
Pierre: One of the questions that always bothers me when I read about how much more radical the Wahhabis are than the ______ (fill in the blank) is where does Mohammad fit in that arc of moderation?
He was no Bektashi Sufi, let's put it that way. Mohammad was "progressive" for his place and time, but look at his place and time.
Furthermore in the United States we always hear that it is only the Sunnis that are radical
The worst of the crazies -- Al Qaeda -- is Wahhabi Sunni. But Hezbollah is Shia. So is Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army. So is the Islamic Republic regime in Iran.
Until 1979, though, Shias were a lot more mellow in general than Sunnis. That is most likely where this misconception comes from.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2008 12:33 pm
Hi Michael:
In Re the Taliban, Bin Laden and the Wahabbiyah.
It is common wisdom, (because that is how it has been spun) that Taliban means The Students, after the madrassa students which supposedly formed the Taliban.
But one needs to dissect the Word Taliban as well as Islamic narrative and mythology.
As "Im" in Hebrew means "people of" as in Ashkenazim (people of Ashkenaz) or Sephadim (peoples of the scroll- Sephar = scroll or book)
"An" means people of or followers of and Taliban means people or followers of the Student.
And who is this Student, why none other than Ali ibn Abu Talib, the first Shi'a Imam, and according them the legitimate successor of Hubal Qassim aka the praised one or Muhammad.
The name Ali ibn Abu Talib is self referential and circular translated it means Exalted son of the father of the student, (Ali = exalted, ibn = son, abu = father, talib = student), it is actually a title, and an invention, bestwwed on this personage (if he existed at all) after his death.. Ali was, in Islamic narrative, the cousin of Muhammad, the husband of Muhammads daughter Fatima and his first STUDENT.
Wrapping your mind around that, then consider that the only real seperation between Wahabi and Shi'a is the theological rift, in all of Islam the two versions of Shari'a (Islamic Law) that are most similar (and harsh) are those of Saudi Arabia (Wahabbi) and Iran now Iraq (Shi'a).
I postulate that Bin Laden was sent to Afghanistan, to use Wahabbi oil money, on a mission to create a syncretic union between Wahabbi and Shi'a Islam. Instead of excising Ali, the first Shi'a Imam, as the Sunni's have done, the Wahabbi's have sought to coopt him and bring him and his followers on board their train.
Remember that there has been a violent history in the interaction between Sunni and Shi'a since the death of the grandson of Ali (Hussein and the most revered of all Shi'a saints.. the central focus of the annual Ashura ritual where macho men beat themselves bloody with janzeer and swords.
The Wahabbi's don't believe in Saints, but they also fear a Shi'a revival, and let's not forget that Ayatollah (Verse of Allah) Khomeini, sent his wife and a delegation to ignite an insurrection in Mecca during the 1980 Hajj pilgrimage.
The Taliban are a new Islamic cult, one created by the Wahabbis and one that was fed, supported and still is by the U.S. Government, either by our leaders kindly and subordinate relations with the Saudi's or the Pakistani's.
This new cult is a syncretic union of Shi'ah and Wahabbiyah..not hostile to either, at least ostensibly. The Iranians gave and give succor to the Talban, so long as they kept and keep their activities on their side of the border and did not pose an existential threat to the mullahcracy of Iran, but when they cross border and pose a threat, then Iran reacts harshly and effectively.
But theologically, there is room in the Taliban play book for Arab Wahabbiyyah and Persian Shi'ah.
Elsewhere in the land of Islam, the alliance between Shi'a and Sunni is tenuous and is best expressed by the Arabic saying. "Me against my brother, my brother and I against my cousin, my brother, cousin and I against the stranger".
And the stranger is the Kufr, the unbeliever, the Christian, the Jew, those who do not accept Muhammad as the final prophet of Allah, or believe in the Arabic chief god Al Ilah - Allah.
Posted by: Nariz at July 29, 2008 2:23 pm
The Taliban aren't hostile to the Shia?
Funny.
Posted by: Daniel E. at July 29, 2008 2:45 pm
The Taliban aren't hostile to the Shia?
Funny.
Posted by: Daniel E. at July 29, 2008 2:45 PM

That comment falls under the logical fallacy category of strawman.
You put words in my mouth (and what are you really up to anyway?) Re read my comment I covered that ground quite adequately.
Are you muslim? You come across as such.
Cheers
Posted by: Nariz at July 29, 2008 4:13 pm
A large number of the Muslims of Macedonia, like Shpetim Mahmudi above, are not Albanians, although they do speak Albanian (as many do speak also Serbian, Bulgarian, etc.) and are mistakenly identified as such. They are members of the Roma ethnic minority in Macedonia.
Posted by: redon at July 30, 2008 7:27 am
Redon,
What makes you think Shpetim Mahmudi is Roma? He refers to Albanians as "we," not "they."
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2008 10:09 am
The type of triangulation you describe between the various orthodox churches isn't really that surprising. Sad, but not surprising. During the Crusades, a series of wars much more obviously about religion than these conflicts, the church out of Constantinople would regularly ally itself with Muslim caliphs against the Catholic invaders. Sometimes it would work out for them -- from their point of view, of course -- but sometimes it would backfire horribly. The enemy of my enemy...
Posted by: jasonholliston at July 30, 2008 10:42 am
Your explanation, or the dervish's, for the alliance between the Wahhabis and the Macedonian government is to say the least unclear.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom at July 30, 2008 10:48 am
Rich,
Yes, it is confusing.
The mainstream Sunnis and Wahhabis are often against each other, but they collaborate against the Shia Bektashi Sufis. And yes, the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the government are throwing support behind the Wahhabis. It's insane, and they are going to regret it.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2008 10:52 am
Redon,
No way that man is a Roma.
First off, he would have self-identified as such because the Roma, while sympathetic to the Albanian national cause, do not consider themselves Albanian, or at any rate, not more so than they consider themselves Roma first.
Second, (and I know what you are thinking) his skin tone is not even indicative of Roma ancestry: while noticeably darker than the average Albanian, it is much more olive than brown.
If anything, unless he is actually 100% Albanian lineage-wise, he might/could perhaps conceivably be Jevg, but not Roma.
While the Roma are a pan-Indian nomadic tribe, the Jevg are descendants of Egyptian slaves whom the Ottomans brought with them in their military campaigns against Albanians. They do not have a national Jevg identity (unlike the Roma), consider themselves fully Albanian and are well-integrated, and it's a grave insult to point out to them their Jevg ancestry, because they consider themselves Albanian.
Their skin tone is more olive (Mediterranean/Arab) than Roma/Indian brown. Many Albanians do not even know the difference between the Roma and the Jevgs though. From various online sources:
Two distinct groups of Roma (Gypsies), the Jevg and the Arrixhi (Gabel), reside in Albania. The Jevg are more likely to be settled in urban areas and are more integrated into the Albanian economy than the Arrixhi. The two groups seldom intermarry or have any significant contact. Both groups encounter societal discrimination, but no specific violence is known to have been directed against them during 1993.
....
To all of above terms we must add the words Evgjit and/or Jevg. Both refer to a group of unascertained origins (probably Egyptian) and social structure, but are sometimes used to refer to Rroms on the grounds that they are perceived as less offensive than the colloquial terms listed above. In some regions of Albania, no distinction is made between Evgjit and Rroms, whatever names they are locally known by. Unfortunately, all Albanian dictionaries translate the English term "Gypsy" as "Evgjit", and many writers use the term to designate the Rroms in the mistaken belief that it is less inappropriate than Arxhi, Gabel etc.[7]. Nonetheless the common people do, as Stuart Mann points out, "make a sharp distinction between them"[8]; all Albanians would include both groups under the term dora e zez
Posted by: medaura at July 30, 2008 11:54 am
That comment falls under the logical fallacy category of strawman.
You're inventing linguistics based conspiracy theories and then claiming logical consistancy?
Are you muslim?
No. Would you like to check my junk to make sure?
Posted by: Daniel E. at July 30, 2008 12:31 pm
To Redon,
(Let me explain to the public here who is unfamiliar with the current situation.)
Redon, you are a wahabi product, which it has brainwashed you, so anyone appearing on this article that does not fit your ideology, you abruptly claim to change their identity. That's the tragedy of allowing these filthy arabs in our ancient albanian lands. It's about to time to cleanse them out.
Binladensa of your like, have failed in Kosovo. I should mention how one of your binladens dude, came to Kosovo from Saudi Arabia and lost his wife and his kids who decided to choose the other way of liberal islam as Michael put it. I understand why no Muslim country recognizes Kosovo, because islam in Kosovo will change the face of the entire Islam in the world.
It's happening in Macedonia everyday. There are less religious people everyday, and redon, you are losing your battle until one day those arab petrodollars will stop streaming to your bank account. If you are Albanian, you should be ashamed of yourself. Sooner or later, you will awaken from your slumber.
Sufi is very widespread in Tetova, Shkup, Kumanov, Prizren, Gjakove, Peje, Shkoder, Berat, Korce, Vlore, Janine, Arate and so on.
Muhmud is not a gypsy, but an Albanian. Perhaps, it doesn't fit your redhead or light brown looks, but sure, as hell, he's Albanian.
Posted by: TrueAlbo2006 at July 30, 2008 2:51 pm
Shpetim Mahmudi just read this article and the comments thread, and he emailed to tell me that is not Roma, but Albanian.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2008 2:53 pm
Michael,
The headquarters of Sufi or Bektashi religion are in Tirana Albania.
Posted by: TrueAlbo2006 at July 30, 2008 3:02 pm
Even if Shpetim Mahmudi were Roma or Jevg, which he doesn't even seem to be, and most importantly, he has not identified himself as in the article, and is explicitly confirming now through Michael that he is Albanian, but even if he were, so what?
Or is Redon implying that a Roma could not know what he is talking about, and whatever community he represents or allies with (religious or otherwise) is not antithetic to the Albanian cause in Macedonia?
Redon didn't directly state this, but him pointing out what he thinks might be the ancestry of Shpetim Mahmudi, without any further explanation, strongly suggests that the significance he attaches to his perceived lineage is that "true" Albanians would be Wahhabis.
Perhaps I am reading too much into it.
Redon, care to elaborate?
Posted by: medaura at July 30, 2008 4:19 pm
err, some typos above:
...he has not identified himself as such in the article...
...is antithetical to the Albanian cause in Macedonia...
Sorry, I hate typing with my feet too.
Posted by: medaura at July 30, 2008 4:21 pm
confusion may have arisin due to the fact that the Roma are highly represented in many of the Sufi orders found throughout Kosova and Macedonia - such as the Rifa'is, Kadiris and Halvetis. However, the Bektashi order is purely Albanian, and to a lesser extent, Turkish. There are no Roma Bektashis anywhere to be found in the Balkans.
Posted by: bektashi110 at July 30, 2008 11:24 pm
Hi again Michael,
Even in this second part of your article, you suck again. Your anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate is proverbial and reminds me the anti-semitism displayed in the times of Nazi Germany.
But this is not all. You seem to have no understanding of the Albanian Islam. You confuse the Ottoman Islam of Macedonians, with the Wahabi Islam. Muslims of Macedonia follow the same form of Islam as Muslims of Turkey. Many of those ppl calling themselves Albanians in Macedonia nowadays are in fact Ottoman Turks, Albanianised during the decades of Tito. However you confuse and connect them with Wahabism in such a miraculous manner, that you seems better than G. Bush who was showing WMD in Iraq before the war.
I have a suggestion for you: apply for a job in the white house. You can find the weapons of Sadam in Kosova and Macedonia!
Posted by: albanian at July 31, 2008 4:29 pm
Albanian: Even in this second part of your article, you suck again. Your anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate is proverbial and reminds me the anti-semitism displayed in the times of Nazi Germany.
Oh, give me a break. One of my interview subjects -- Shpetim Mahmudi -- read this article yesterday. He is obviously a Muslim, and his only objection to this piece was a typo which I went back and fixed.
If I hated the Muslims of the Balkans (or anywhere else) as much as the Nazis hated Jews, explain to me why I supported the liberation of Kosovo from Slobodan Milosevic and his band of actually fascistic war criminals.
Some readers who have accused me of excessive bias in these dispatches from the Balkans say I am too biased toward the Albanians and the Muslims. Go bark at them. You deserve each other.
And if you want the right to stick around here without getting yourself banned, don't ever tell me I "suck" again or call me a Nazi. I will throw you out.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 31, 2008 4:46 pm
Albanian: Even in this second part of your article, you suck again. Your anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate is proverbial and reminds me the anti-semitism displayed in the times of Nazi Germany.
Firstly, you definitely need to cut the crap! Secondly, stop pretending to be an Albanian. To suggest that Albanians from Macedonia are Turks is nothing but a product of the Wahabi propaganda. Wahabis even claimed in Kosovo that because of Skanderbeg, we are nation of at most 8 million in the Balkans instead of 50 million. People in Kosovo didn't buy their bullshit, and I am, in fact, very glad that people in Macedonia (Albanians) are rejecting them slowly but surely, hopefully.
To Micheal,
You should NOT give her/him a second chance, for s/he is already brainwashed and will again spew bullshit out of his/her mouth. As an Kosovar-Albanian, who has traveled to Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia, I can say for sure that your writings just reflect the reality on the ground.
Keep up the good job!
Posted by: DardanGator at July 31, 2008 6:29 pm
DardanGator: You should NOT give her/him a second chance, for s/he is already brainwashed and will again spew bullshit out of his/her mouth.
Most likely. He/she/it gets one more chance only and will almost certainly blow it.
As an Kosovar-Albanian, who has traveled to Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia, I can say for sure that your writings just reflect the reality on the ground.
Thanks for the backup.
stop pretending to be an Albanian.
I also thought "Albanian" might not be an Albanian and is only pretending to be. But there are Wahhabi-Albanians, and he/she/it might be one of them. If so, these comments are very revealing of the mentality.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 31, 2008 6:36 pm
"As "Im" in Hebrew means "people of" as in Ashkenazim (people of Ashkenaz) or Sephadim (peoples of the scroll- Sephar = scroll or book)"
What?
In "-im" is the plural ending for masculine words (typically), similar to "-s" in English.
Ashkezim are more than one Askenaz.
Sephardim are more than one Sephard.
Sepharad is the name of a region mentioned in the Bible later identified as Spain.
"Sefer" (plural "sfarim") does indeed mean "book".
Perhaps you are confusing the ending "-im" (Yud Mem) with the word "im" (Ayin Mem), which means "with" and/or the word "am" (also Ayin Mem), which means "people".
"Talib" is Arabic for student (the Hebrew is "talemid"). The "-an" is an Indoeuropean plural (related to English "-en" in "oxen"). The Arabic plural of "talib" is probably irregular, like "tulab" or something like that.
Posted by: Leauki at August 1, 2008 3:30 am
"I also thought "Albanian" might not be an Albanian and is only pretending to be. But there are Wahhabi-Albanians, and he/she/it might be one of them. If so, these comments are very revealing of the mentality."
Plus he obviously didn't read your past articles, if he thinks that you are "anti-Muslim".
(Of course, in the eyes of the Wahabi heretics, only Wahabi heretics are Muslims. They reverse the meaning of the word "Muslim".)
Posted by: Leauki at August 1, 2008 3:38 am
Michael,
As a Kosovar I'd like to thank you for the great article(s) about that region, they are very accurate and reflect my personal experiences, a couple of which I'd like to relate.
I am from the Drenica region of Kosova, where the KLA began, and I have heard repeated stories from the locals (cousins, uncles, people I trust) about how representatives from various Muslim/Arab organizations go out of their way to impose their beliefs on the populace. I heard repeatedly about how it would cost, say, 200 Euros to take a course in English but some Arab organizations would actually PAY YOU 400 Euros to take a course in Arabic. Another story I heard a few times was how some Muslim organizations (affiliated with Saudi Arabia or Egypt) would expropriate communal land within one of the innumerable small villages that dot Drenica and build a mosque upon it that no one either requested or wanted. In one instance they kept building until the village elders went down and warned them of violence if they continued
Anyway, thanks again for your wonderful and incisive commentary.
Posted by: drenicak at August 1, 2008 10:09 am
Oh wow,
Until now I had only heard Serbian nationalists acting like pricks on these Balkans threads.
Long overdue I guess: here we get the first self-styled "Albanian" brainwashed asshole.
"Albanian", your bullshit stinks so bad, that any impostor seeking to paint Albanians as extremist Wahabbis couldn't have picked better lines for his/her sock-puppet. (I do question the choice of your user-name, "Albanian", as the first choice for a Wahabbi Albanian, for whom his/her extremist dogma is much more important than his/her national identity).
If you are what you say you are, then no, the Muslims of Macedonia are not "Albanicized Turks", but you, dear, are a Wahabbicized Albanian.
Go back to the caves and stop barking at your gracious host on this site. If it were up to me, you'd get no second chance.
And if you are a sock-puppet of Serb/Macedonian propagandists, then look at how pathetic you are, trolling over blogs.
Get a clue, and get a life!
Posted by: medaura at August 1, 2008 10:16 am
Oh, and, "Albanian". One more thing:
If you truly are Albanian do you mind proving it?
Translate everything you said, and Michael's response to you in Albanian, in gheg dialect: no babelfish bullshit.
If you don't stand up to the challenge, I'll assume you are a moby. No Albanian, even a radical idiot like you declare yourself to be, would resist proving his Albanianness through passing such an easy test.
Let's hear it...
Posted by: medaura at August 1, 2008 10:30 am
Michael-
I found this article very interesting. I just spent six weeks in the South Balkans studying. Your observation of how immense the change is from Kosova to Macedonia in terms of Muslim women was very accurate. I don't remember seeing one woman in Kosova wearing any type of headscarf but in Macedonia it was much more prominent. I mainly noticed this in Ohrid, which was extremely surprising for me. I did not have the pleasure of going to Tetovo but I did visit Struga and I saw some of the same.
I will have to disagree with you on one account however, I saw many, many Yugos in Nis, Serbia. But I do agree the economy in western MK is struggling, although it will not hinder the amount of Mercedes you will see. I met an American man on my flight out of Skopje and a comment he made to me was how after reaching Tetovo and going more west there were so many more Mercedes and BMWs. This was from a man that could not place MK on a map before his visit and was barely informed on many of the more intricate struggles in the South Balkans.
Medaura-
I'm not sure if I had your comment mistaken or not..
"Second, (and I know what you are thinking) his skin tone is not even indicative of Roma ancestry: while noticeably darker than the average Albanian, it is much more olive than brown."
I'm confused on which skin tone is olive. I'm half Albanian (but I don't pretend to be an expert and I don't know the language) and my skin tone is more olive.
I also lived with a Roma family in MK for 2 weeks and a Roma family in Nis, Serbia for a week. Now I agree with you that their skin color is not indicative of their ethnicity but it is commonly accepted among Roma, that their ancestry either comes from Persia or India (of course this all depends on where you are when you're speaking with Roma).
Michael-
Thank you for this article. It was refreshing to read something that gave fair observations not necessarily opinions.
Posted by: Celena at August 2, 2008 1:13 pm
One more thing-
Albanian-
"But this is not all. You seem to have no understanding of the Albanian Islam. You confuse the Ottoman Islam of Macedonians, with the Wahabi Islam. Muslims of Macedonia follow the same form of Islam as Muslims of Turkey. Many of those ppl calling themselves Albanians in Macedonia nowadays are in fact Ottoman Turks, Albanianised during the decades of Tito. However you confuse and connect them with Wahabism in such a miraculous manner, that you seems better than G. Bush who was showing WMD in Iraq before the war."
If you told my Muslim Albanian father who grew up and was born in western Macedonia that he is from the Ottoman Turks you may actual learn something because he would give you a history lesson. You sir are not Albanian because NO ALBANIAN WOULD SAY THE ALBANIANS IN MK ARE NOT ALBANIAN! He does not practice a different type of Islam from the rest of the Albanians in the area. Of course every individual person has their own personal interpretations but for the most part in remains true that Albanians are connected by blood NOT RELIGION! No Albanian would look down on their brother/sister for being Orthodox or Catholic because trust me there are plenty of Albanians that are.
I wonder if you have actually ever traveled to the Balkans? Do you know any Albanians? I know Kosovar Albanians, Macedonian Albanians, and Albanians from Albania and there is never an ill word spoken of the other.
Posted by: Celena at August 2, 2008 1:22 pm
Lol.
Here is a picture of Albanian women:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lViTEZPBDjo&feature=related
Posted by: TrueAlbo2006 at August 2, 2008 8:59 pm
Celena:
"I'm confused on which skin tone is olive. I'm half Albanian (but I don't pretend to be an expert and I don't know the language) and my skin tone is more olive.
I also lived with a Roma family in MK for 2 weeks and a Roma family in Nis, Serbia for a week. Now I agree with you that their skin color is not indicative of their ethnicity but it is commonly accepted among Roma, that their ancestry either comes from Persia or India (of course this all depends on where you are when you're speaking with Roma)."
Well, I didn't mean to get into a discussion over that, but it seems like one person here in the thread saw the guy's picture and assumed he was a Roma. Not that it matters even if he was, (which he isn't, as he even wrote to tell Michael), but the guy who made the observation was way off target.
He saw the darker than average skin tone and assumed the guy was a Roma. There are some pretty tan Albanians, so skin tone means nothing certain for recognition purposes, though the average Albanians is noticeably lighter than that.
It's irrelevant, but I just wanted to say that despite the olive skin tone, the man in the picture looks nothing like a Roma. Of course, like you said, some Roma are very light-skinned... I have seen beautiful Roma children with amazing blue eyes too. Doesn't matter.
I just thought it was silly to just assume the man was Roma just based on his picture. Kinda racist too.
Posted by: medaura at August 3, 2008 7:49 pm
Mr.Totten
Maybe my English is not so good; I did not understood the Macedonian's reasoning.
So, I will do a "logical" recap:
The Macedonian authorities have problems with the albanian community. They support the Wahhabi/Sunni activities. But the Wahhabi/Sunni do not overtly attack the Albanians.
How could this help the Macedonian authorities in dealing with Albanians ? WHAT is their reasoning ?
Posted by: kiwii at August 4, 2008 12:28 pm
To the "Albanian"
if you ever were one, you are no longer one now. You're either a Serb or an Arab so please identify correctly.
Christian Science monitor had an article by Delisso a few years ago and raised the same points:
"Macedonia's Muslims are likely to elect a moderate leader soon, but extremism persists.
For Muslims in this small Balkan country, the Ottoman Empire's Islamic legacy still endures. However, some say Arab rivals are seeking to undermine it. "When my cousin entered university in Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabis offered him 200 euros a month and an apartment if he would spread their customs back in Macedonia," says Blerim, a young ethnic Albanian and Muslim who didn't want to give his last name for security reasons. "He accepted, and my uncle is quite concerned."
csmonitor.com/2006/0214/p06s02-woeu.html
In Albania it is known that they are much more conservative. I know of several Catholic families who were about to give their daughters there but they were discouraged from doing so as they are much more conservative--in a non-Albanian
conservative way. Albanian conservatives (traditional) are actually preferred in rural Albania where dating, clubbing and premarital sex are a huge no-no.
Unfortunately, FYROM's leadership has suffered from schizophrenia: in an attempt to undermine the Albanians and gain sympathy as well they purposefully allowed these Arabs to throw money at people but they will regret it very soon unless they change course. Now FYROM is up in the air and everyone from the Albanian parties there, Greece, Albania, Bulgars has their own agenda is trying to go to the next step, by any means necessary, allowing the Arabs to thrive.
Bulgars call FYROM-ans 'lost Bulgars,' Serbs want a nice chuck of their land and no one is more eager to dismantle FYROM than Greece, who can than claim that Alexander of Macedonia was Greek too, in addition to gaining even more land. So Albanians are FYROM's best friend, simply because the alternatives are much worst. With Albanians being 30% inside their country and with 6 million others right next door, FYROM with 1.5 million slavs is gone if Albanians sneeze. Now it appears that they are smartening up and they visited Albania last month in an attempt for better relations.
With Albanian and US pressure they need to cut the umbilical cord of Saudi money and everything else collapses. Additionally, MK, Kosova and Albania will be linked soon so everyone will fuse and MK Albanians are not in their own island.
Thanks for the great article Michael. This needs publicity so authorities crack down, right now the Wahhabi thugs are spreading their hate by fear.
Posted by: nameless-fool at August 4, 2008 10:30 pm
Medaura-
I totally agree with everything you said -- within the Balkans you can find different skin-toned Albanians. Also no one should make an assumption about a person's ethnicity based on their skin tone because I have realized with my recent traveling that you're usually not right!
Posted by: Celena at August 5, 2008 12:29 am
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