By Nazim Rashidi
Perhaps it would not come as a surprise, but once again, being a man of the media and given that the media aims at maintaining ethics in communication, I was surprised when I encountered the use of degrading and insulting words by Serb media against Albanians. My profession has given me the possibility of communicating and talking to many people from all around the world. There are no dilemmas and I don’t want to nourish stereotypes by saying that “all Serbs are the same”. But, I am against the use of words that humiliate an individual or an entire group, for any given reason, and I was shocked when I saw several posts made by Serb media in social networks which contained insulting words against Albanians, which I thought that they are no longer used.
Of course, they had to do with the incidents taken place in the match against Serbia and Albania.
For us, who speak the Balkan languages, it was not difficult to hear the insults and chants that incited death in the stadium. But, what was even sadder was that almost the same language was used by the media.
In many cases, the Serb media used the word “Albanian” as the equivalent of “nigger for the colored people. If, in the century that we live in, ethics in communication suggests a lot of caution, imagine what would happen if in different European countries or in any other country, words with a strong racist context were used.
What surprises me even more is the anger and arrogance of several media, which quoted Albanian officials. For prime minister Rama, it was said that “he spat” instead of “said” or “declared. As a “child” of the terrible post Yugoslav transition, this reminded me the terrible rhetoric of the ‘80s. At that time, Albanians were blamed about everything and the term was easily used in official media. But now, we live in a different age. There have been so many meetings and communication between Albanians and Serbia and people of media and the others, that it’s shocking for such rhetoric to be encountered so easily.
I thought things had changed, but… In a debate for BBC World Service on Wednesday, after the match, a Serb journalist, although he was quoting, was entirely convinced that it was the brother of PM Rama who had controlled the drone with the flag. And given that this was said by a Serb senior official, the news spread. It’s almost unimaginable to cast doubts that this could not have been done by the “accused”. The psychosis against Albanians is so deep that the media and people in power there’s no dilemma that the “guilty” ones are only Albanians. Without any facts, but only because in a state of panic, a guilty person should have been found, Olsi Rama was targeted. It’s very hard to describe the feeling that an entire generation has, especially those who have lived in the former Yugoslavia, which have lived all that tension and hatred against Albanians and to see this machinery being set in motion so easily in another time and in a different political context. Up to a point that everyone will believe that the flag was lifted by the brother of the prime minister himself.
This case must arouse the conscience of the “naives” that personal communications (like I’ve had) with serious and open minded people, may change structures and systems that have been engraved for years in the general Serb mentality. Look at Macedonia. Prejudice is still there in all daily communications of all levels. On both sides, without any doubt. Today, Albanian mentality is inclined to being open-minded, toward European integration and communication, but this will not be noticed and it will never be accepted for a lot of time by those who have doubted on the Albanian normality.
This open mindedness cannot be sought by a group of Serb officials who not only come from Miloshevician school, but they’re also its initiators and today, they are in power. They and the others who have prejudices, will never see or fathom the debate and self criticism (so necessary and healthy) that happens between Albanians.
One of the many comments that I read was that perhaps “the drone and the flag was a bad joke”. For an entire European public and beyond, a flag, a drone game, is just an innovative way of expression. But the constant chants for violence, death and violence itself against the football players, cannot be explained. (In fact, they can…).
But, in this total euphoria, which was fueled by this event, that become more famous and attracted more media attention than Ebola, must we raise dilemmas of our behavior in the future?
Numerous drones will be lifted in many stadiums, different messages will be sent in “modern” forms, but criticism but also be focused on critics themselves. This game of drones must turn into other indecent “games” of what we say and are. There will be provocations against Albanians too. Therefore, our next challenge will consist on our behavior in case drones are flown for Albanians.
A game of drones
*The author is a journalist and columnist from Skopje. He currently lectures in the Faculty of Journalism at the State University of Tetovo
** The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line