Balkan Muslims condemn destruction of religious shrines by ISIL


Muslims speak out against the Islamic States of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroying mosques and churches.

By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 21/08/14


The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is targeting religious sites. [AFP]

Balkan Muslims are speaking out against the destruction of religious shrines and sites in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

ISIL destroyed a 600-year old mosque in Mosul in June, the seventh recognised religious shrine, and occupied or damaged shrines belonging to the Syrian Orthodox Church.

To Balkan Muslims, ISIL's destruction of religious shrines in Iraq and Syria is unacceptable, said Hysi Fejza, a resident of Pristina.

"Such acts do not belong to the Islamic religion, because our grandparents taught us that Islam is peace, Islam is tolerance, Islam respects other religions. The recent events are sad [reminders] that sacred temples collapsed, regardless of being mosques or churches, and innocent people are killed," Fejza told SETimes.

What ISIL does is a crime that cannot be justified in any way, according to Dzemal Arslani, a resident of Struga.

"Those who invoke and propagate demolition of religious shrines and sites, and especially structures of cultural-historical significance, will not find support from most Muslims. I personally disapprove of this because it is not in line with Islam," Arslani told SETimes.

Groups who destroy mosques will not emerge victorious, said Ferhat Polisi, former mufti of the Islamic Community in Macedonia.

"The Muslim people consider such people thugs and do not support them. What they do is contrary to everything [we believe], because Islam is grounded as a religion of the people," Polisi told SETimes.

Others called on the international community to take urgent action to prevent ISIL's vandalism.

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"UNESCO needs to react as an organisation responsible for the protection of the world's cultural and historical heritage," Hysen Sulejmani, a student of oriental studies at the State University in Ankara, told SETimes.

ISIL's acts can be compared with the destruction of the Ferhadija mosque in Banja Luka and the old bridge in Mostar during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), said Emir Neimarlija, a resident of Sarajevo.

"I would also add that [such destruction] undermines the economic potential of a country," Neimarlija told SETimes.

Correspondent Linda Karadaku in Pristina contributed to this report. What can be done to prevent destruction of religious shrines and sites? Share your opinion in the comments space.

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