Religious extremism and mosques which are not under the umbrella of the Islamic Community in FYROM

Religious extremism and mosques which are not under the umbrella of the Islamic Community in FYROM

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, August 22, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

In the recent days, debates have intensified in relation to the presence of Islamic radical groups that preach the Islamic religion against the religious policies of the Islamic Religious Community in the country. But, debates focus on the suspicions that radical organized groups recruit youngsters in order to go and fight in Iraq and Syria, as part of ISIS and Al-Nusra terrorist groups.

The head of the Islamic Religious Community (IRC) in FYR Macedonia, Sulejman Rexhepi has addressed a request in the recent days to the Ministry of Interior to intervene in two mosques in Skopje, which according to him, do not fall under the institution that he leads. These are the mosques of “Yahya Pasa” and “Tutunsez”, which are said to preach religious teachings which are not in line with the system that is applied by IRC and which are dominated by religious preachers known as ‘salafists’, who have long beards and short trousers.

The head of IRC had demanded intervention in these two mosques, in order for them not to be led by people who are not part of this religious institution.

“We don’t have our  people in these two mosques and we don’t have them under control.  We have demanded from government authorities to help us by respecting the law, but they haven’t done their job. Therefore, if something happens in these two mosques, then the Ministry of Interior is to be held responsible”, said the head of IRC, Sulejman Rexhepi.

The mufti of Skopje too, Ibrahim Shabani told IBNA that an organized group illegally controls one of the main mosques of Skopje, “Yahya Pasa”. “This group has the keys to the mosque and controls it ”, said Ibrahim Shabani.

Arben Idrizi is the head of the mosque which  has been at the focus of criticism. Along with his group, he’s accused of holding the mosque a hostage. In the recent days, Idrizi has not responded to the questions addressed by journalists to clarify his position in this mosque and the accusations coming from the religious institution. According to unofficial, Arben Idrizi has worked for a period of time in the American military base of “Bondsteel” in Kosovo, where until 2010, Lavdrim Muhaxheri, one of the main jihadists in Syria also worked.

The Ministry of Interior has refused the appeals of the head of IRC in FYR Macedonia to control the two mosques in Skopje.

Minister of Interior, Gordana Jankulovska issued a short declaration yesterday by saying that the appeal of the head of IRC, Sulejman Rexhepi stems from his ambitions.

Last week, the spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Ivo Kotevski declared that such developments are being followed in FYROM, after the arrests of a suspected group of jihadists by the police of Kosovo.

Muslim believers in Skopje say they seldom go to the two mosques, because religion there is preached through a harsh vocabulary.

“These two mosques are attended by their followers and I’m not comfortable to go and pray in those two mosques”, said S.L, a believer living near “Yahya Pasa” mosque, who wants to remain anonymous.

Last month, Macedonian media wrote that Skopje is the center of transit of all voluntaries and recruits that are organized and then taken to Iraq to find for ISIS and Al-Nusra. These media, “Dnevnik” newspaper among them, quote sources from security agencies, but so far, there’s no information on the motives for the reluctance of the Ministry of Interior to intervene. /ibna/