Islamic movement turns to politics


Islamic movement Bashkohu's move to launch political activities sparks a debate in Kosovo.

By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 04/03/13


Police arrest a Bashkohu activist at a rally against the government. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]

Some experts and citizens said that as a radical Islamic movement, Kosovo's new political party Bashkohu (Join!) should not be allowed to register as a political entity, but others said the law cannot ban a party for its ideology.

The movement has organised protests in Pristina in support of building a new mosque and against schools that prevent girls with headscarves to attend classes. One of Bashkohu founders, Fuad Ramiqi, was arrested in May 2010 by Israeli Security Forces during the Gaza flotilla raid on Mavi Marmara.

"If this movement is registered as a political party it would be unconstitutional and illegal," Kosovo's Ombudsperson Sami Kurteshi told Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove.

Currently, Kosovo law only bans party members that are indicted or convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or members in breach of the law.

"In a democracy, a party cannot be banned because of its ideology," Seb Bytyci, executive director of Balkan Policy Institute, told SETimes.

"I don't think it is good to ban them," Petrit Krasniqi of Pristina told SETimes. "Because banning people or parties for political reasons does not give us a good image and they could easily turn into underground activities."

Bashkohu leader Arsim Krasniqi told SETimes that the movement will achieve its goals and make the voice of civil society to be heard.

"The leaders of Bashkohu, in broad consultation with activists, came to the conclusion that the movement should be registered as a political entity with the name Levizja Islamike Bashkohu," said Krasniqi.

Krasniqi said they have included the name "Islamic" since the party will serve citizens based on the Islamic principles of freedom, justice, equality and to be against any negative phenomenon in Kosovo.

"[We] present no danger to the religious tolerance, contrary we are more to this tolerance with which we, Muslims are proud," he said.

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However, some experts said the political impact of Bashkohu will be minimal.

"For voters it will not be a serious party," researcher at the Pristina Institute for International Studies Fatlum Sadiku told SETimes. "Because the experience tells that a party, to get big support, needs to have charismatic leaders and good political agenda."

Anesa Dauti, a law student from Prizren told SETimes that Bashkohu has a bad image in society and they should stay out of politics.

"There are some incidents that for me, personally, do not make this group trustful, and it is better if it won't get registered. I don't believe in their sincerity, and religion with politics can't resolve our problems," Dauti said.

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