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The Arrests and the Failure
read in Macedonian


I’m glad the Ministry of Interior has made arrests in the killing of five innocent men at the lake near Skopje.  It is my hope that all of the details of this cowardly and gruesome killing come to light and that those responsible are punished to the full extent of the law.

While I’m glad about the arrests I’m also glad about the failure: the failure of those who participated in this killing to ignite a battle royal and ethnic conflict between Macedonians and Macedonia’s Albanians.  While I mourn the killing of five innocent men, I am happy to see that Macedonians have not taken the bait and reacted the way the killers wanted.  Instead, and with the exception of a few isolated events, Macedonians have kept calm and carried on.  That’s the correct way to respond and although there is a massive amount of pain and hurt because of this, responding to these provocations would only make matters worse.  And Macedonians realize this.

But now a disappointment: while I was encouraged to see Ali Ahmeti and others come out and condemn the murders – as they should have done – I am very disappointed to see the protests by Macedonia’s Albanians at the arrests.  Granted people have every right in a democracy to peacefully protest but the May 4 protests after Friday prayers are the mosques were not necessarily peaceful. According to reports, they threw rocks at police who, while having every right to arrest them, did not.  That is wisdom manifest. (I am reminded of the late US Senator Edward Kennedy who once said “Violence is an admission that one’s ideas and goals cannot prevail on their own merits.”)

But what is more worrying is what was said, worn and carried by the protestors. According to Balkan Insight, many protestors chanted “Allah is Great” and carried or wore, by the various pictures I viewed, flags of Saudi Arabia, shirts that stated “Islam will be victorious,”  “Islam will dominate the world” and “stand by Palestine.”  (Most of these kids could not even find Palestine on a map) 

Also, and according to Balkan Insight, others protested to condemn a trial that hasn’t begun and to demand the release of those arrested stating “We will not allow rigged trials,” “I am here to express my revolt against the police arrests of innocent Albanians,” and “Albanians are not terrorists but there will be trouble as long as the Macedonian police treat them as such.” 

Granted every society has its lunatics, crazies and religious nuts, and the vast majority of those protesting are, most likely, uneducated out of work 20-somethings who are easily drawn in by radical Islam, and often for just money. These punks must be roundly and soundly condemned by everyone in Macedonia – the government, the opposition, religious leaders and the international representatives in Macedonia.  And again, while they every right to protest and speak like madmen, they do not have the right to throw stones at police or cause violence.

(And let’s not forget the interests of others.  While Balkan Insight reported that “about a thousand” protested, Bulgaria’s Novinite reported “More than 10,000.”  No surprise there given recent relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia.)

This does nothing to improve Macedonia’s image and in fact does everything to hurt Macedonia’s image which is what the extremists want.  In fact, what they want is the late professor Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations.  In the book of the same name, Huntington posited that there is a great clash going on among and between civilizations.  He believed that in a world after the Soviet Union, the cultural and religious identities of people – of civilizations – would lead to conflict when provoked.  One of his beliefs was that these conflicts occur in fault line states – states where two very different civilizations are located.

Radical Islamists know this to be true and are exploiting this.  This is why they chose to provoke the Macedonian population by murdering innocents the day before Good Friday.  They are simply trying to provoke a clash of civilizations.

I hope that responsible leaders – and especially responsible Muslim leaders – will speak out against this.  Radical Islam, Wahhabism and Sharia Law have no place in Macedonia or Southeastern Europe for that matter. And radical Islam in Macedonia only hurts those Muslims who simply want to practice their faith and carry on with their life without imposing it on everyone else.

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Jason Miko
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