A "Wadjda" for Kosovo
Kosovo shares one social problem with Saudi Arabia. That is the infiltration of radical Islam. The story of victimized moderate Muslim clerics and intellectuals, removed from their congregations, dismissed from their teaching positions, and physically attacked, remains to be told.
I would like to be a brother or friend to a female president, but to a president that has reached her position as Wadjda got her bicycle -- because she deserved it.
Saudi Arabia, a male-dominated country, is changing slowly. One example of its cautious new openness is the 2012 movie Wadjda, Saudi Arabia's first feature film, by its first female director, Haifaa Al-Mansour.
My country, the Balkan republic of Kosovo, more than 90% Muslim, is likewise male-controlled and also appears to be changing.
That impression, however, is created by Kosovo having a woman president, Atifete Jahjaga, and is false.
President Atifete Jahjaga does not belong in the same category as Wadjda, the female protagonist of the Saudi film. We need a Wadjda for our country – both a female with the spirit of the cinema character, and a movie like it. We need many Wadjdas.
A promotional poster for the film Wadjda (left), and Kosovo's President Atifete Jahjaga.
In Wadjda, the film-maker tells the story of a 10-year old girl in a world where women exist to bear children, satisfy sexual demands, and serve food. Wadjda, living in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, makes an immense effort to purchase a bicycle, like the one owned by a neighborhood boy. She is warned that girls should not ride bicycles, reflecting Saudi Wahhabi doctrine. Still, Wadjda's mother, using money she saved for a red dress, buys her the bicycle. At the end Wadjda rides toward the highway, another Saudi male preserve.
Wadjda got what she desired, without complaining about being a woman.
I want a Wadjda for Kosovo.
My country is full of women who want their rights, and are intelligent and educated, but who fail. They hold to a mindset that declares, "I am a women, unequal, wronged, and must be given rights."
Kosovo is a European country, and the obstacles to women's equality present in the Balkans are seldom comparable to those in the Saudi kingdom. Polygamy is rare in Kosovo, civil divorce is a guaranteed right, women are represented widely in the professions – President Atifete Jahjaga was a police commander – and all religions have freedom.
But Kosovo, with a movie industry that is not restricted by the so-called "moral" and religious requirements of Saudi reality, also needs films that will expose the dark aspects of life in the republic – where the male leader caste decides the future of the country alone, ignoring or manipulating nearly all women, government officials, and religious leaders. They act as if unrestrained by law or custom – spreading corruption in private and public life, through intimidation, counting on habitual assent to injustice.
Kosovo shares one social problem with Saudi Arabia. That is the infiltration of radical Islam through the top clerical apparatus in the Balkan lands. The Wadjdas of Kosovo need to defy those who would, in the name of Islam, impose foreign habits on them. The story of victimized moderate Muslim clerics and intellectuals, removed from their congregations, dismissed from teaching positions, physically attacked, and otherwise abused, remains to be told.
As a Kosovo citizen, I owe allegiance to the female head of our state, President Atifete Jahjaga, nicknamed "Zarf-tifete," or "Envelope-tifete." Her position was gained two years ago, in April 2011, when her name was presented to the Kosovo government in an envelope, by the former U.S. ambassador to Kosovo from 2009 to 2012, Christopher Dell, who was an Obama appointee. Jahjaga was an unknown – when she became president there was only one picture of her in Google Images.
Atifete Jahjaga did not seek her post as president, the way Wadjda fought for her bicycle. Atifete Jahjaga risked nothing. She appears above party politics.
It would be bad enough if my very small country had only one Atifete Jahjaga, that is, only one person whose high position represented tokenism and reward without real merit. Unfortunately, the majority of women in Kosovo's public life are like her. She is supported by American diplomats and local personalities pushing and grabbing for others' positions: in business, in politics, in criminal operations, as silent partners.
President Atifete Jahjaga presents merely a positive image of Kosovo. It is a country with more than 90% of its 1.8 million people Muslim, a country with an Islamic majority but a female president.
Wadjda's director, Haifaa Al-Mansour, dedicated years of work to her product. She was forced into compromises, changing the script.
My country, Kosovo, with its Muslim identity, needs strong women in public life, who dare to do things forbidden in the name of Islam but which Islam does not prohibit.
Saudi Arabia is changing. Wadjda, a film that offered a realistic depiction of the opening-up of Saudi society, gained the support of Saudi King Abdullah. Some have criticized the film for showing Wadjda's mother buying the bicycle instead of the young girl herself.
I want a Wadjda for my country, in addition to women like President Atifete Jahjaga.
I have sisters and female friends. I would like to be a brother or friend to a female president, but to a president who has reached her position as Wadjda got her bicycle – because she deserved it.
Visar Duriqi is a young Kosovar Albanian who has become prominent as an investigative journalist exposing the penetration of radical Islam, and other social problems, in the Balkan republic. He is a Kosovo correspondent of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.
Reader comments on this item
|Rubbish [96 words]||Bart Benschop||Apr 21, 2014 21:14|
|So Muhammad was wrong (again) was he.......? [169 words]||Steven Buckley||Apr 21, 2014 07:40|
Comment on this item
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.