A quite biased and anti-Islam, but somewhat useful overview on ‘How the Christian Albanians struggled against the Jihad to be overwhelmed by Islam and get submerged into the Dar-ul-Islam’.
The History of Jihad site is brought to you by a panel of contributors. This site is co-ordinated by Robin MacArthur with Mahomet Mostapha and Naim al Khoury, New Jersey.
Other contributors to this site include professors and members of the faculty from the Universities of Stanford and Michigan (Ann Arbor), Kansas State University, Ohio State University, and the London School of Economics. We strongly suggest that this site be recommended as additional reading for students of Islamic History.
Many of us think that Albania and Kosovo are Muslim nations. Not many know about how the Christian Albanians became Muslims.
The saga of the Jihadi onslaught on Albania begins when the expanding Ottoman Empire overpowered the Balkan Peninsula in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. When the wild Ottoman armies burst upon Albania, the feuding Albanian clans proved no match for the armies of the sultan
Skanderbeg was the first freedom fighter for Albania’s independence from Ottoman Tyranny. He was seized as a boy and was forcibly converted to Islam. But as a warrior in the Turkish army he had not forgotten his origins. He abandoned the Turks, reverted to Christianity and waged a fierce war for the liberation of Albania.__________________________
The division of the Albanian-populated lands into small, quarreling fiefdoms ruled by independent feudal lords and tribal chiefs made them easy prey for the Ottoman armies
The Ottoman Turks expanded their empire from Anatolia to the Balkans in the fourteenth century. They crossed the Bosporus in 1352, and in 1389 they crushed a Serb-led army that included Albanian forces at Kosovo Polje, located in the southern part of present-day Yugoslavia.
The march of the Islamic Jihad in what is today an almost entirely Muslim nation Albania was one of the bloodiest in the Balkans. In fact these massacres both on and beyond the battlefield smothered Christianity and made Albania today into a Muslim nation. Thousands of Albanians laid down their lives to repulse the invasion of their ancient Illyrian homeland by the Ottoman Jihadis. Many Albanians fled these massacres and settled in Italy.
One surviving evidence of the massacres are the Arbëreshë who are an Albanian-speaking group living in southern Italy.
Europe gained a brief respite from Ottoman pressure in 1402 when the Muslim Mongol leader, Tamerlane, attacked Anatolia from the east, killed the Turks’ absolute ruler, the sultan Beyazid, and sparked a civil war amongst the Muslims. When order was restored, the Ottomans renewed their westward progress. In 1453 Sultan Mehmed II’s forces overran Constantinople and killed the last Byzantine emperor. This opened the way to the full-scale invasion of the Balkans by the Ottomans.
The march of the Islamic Jihad in what is today an almost entirely Muslim nation Albania was one of the most bloodiest in the Balkans
The march of the Islamic Jihad in what is today an almost entirely Muslim nation Albania was one of the most bloodiest in the Balkans. In fact these massacres both on and beyond the battlefield smothered Christianity and made Albania today into a Muslim nation. Thousands of Albanians laid down their lives to repulse the invasion of their ancient Illyrian homeland by the Ottoman Jihadis. Many Albanians fled these massacres and settled in Italy.
One surviving evidence of the massacres are the Arbëreshë who are an Albanian-speaking group living in southern Italy. These people settled in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries, after the great Albanian hero Skanderbeg died. There was also a second group of emigrés from the Himarë region in Southern Albania, who left after the massacre of some 6000 people who refused to convert to Islam at the orders of Ali Pasha Tepelena. This group constitutes most of the ancestors of the inhabitants of the villages of Hora e Arbëreshëvet Piana degli albanesi and Sëndahstina (Santa Cristina Gela) in Southern Italy.
The division of the Albanian-populated lands into small, quarreling fiefdoms ruled by independent feudal lords and tribal chiefs made them easy prey for the Ottoman armies.
The division of the Albanian-populated lands into small, quarreling fiefdoms ruled by independent feudal lords and tribal chiefs made them easy prey for the Ottoman armies. In 1385 the Albanian ruler of Durrës, Karl Thopia, appealed to the sultan for support against his rivals, the Balsha family. An Ottoman force quickly marched into Albania along the Via Egnatia and routed the Balshas.
How the Janissaries were formed – Albanian clan chiefs had to send their sons to the Turkish court as hostages, to be converted to Islam and provide the Ottoman army with auxiliary troops.
But the principal Albanian clans soon revolted against the Turks. In response to the first Albanian rebellion against Ottoman tyranny, Sultan Murad II launched a major onslaught in the Balkans in 1423, and the Turks took Janina in 1431 and Arta on the Ionian coast, in 1449.
Today Albania is a Muslim nation. But the saga of Albanian resistance to the Muslims was written with the blood of many Albanian Kings, Chieftains and common people who laid down their lives fighting the Ottoman Jihadis. Many of these were forcibly converted to Islam, but reverted to their ancestral faith and died fighting on the battlefield. Skanderbeg was one of the most famous examples of Albanian resistance to the Ottoman Turkish Jihad.
He was abducted as a child, was brought up as a Muslim and was named Iskander by his Turkish captors. When appointed to administer a Balkan district, Iskander became known as Skanderbeg.
Although the Turks allowed conquered Albanian clan chiefs to maintain their positions and property, but they had to pay tribute, and more importantly they had to send their sons to the Turkish court as hostages, and provide the Ottoman army with auxiliary troops.
The first Albanians to convert to Islam were young boys of the Chieftains of different Albanian clans. These boys were forcibly conscripted into the sultan’s military and administration. Gjon Kastrioti of Krujë was one such Albanian clan leaders who was forced to submit to Turkish suzerainty. He was compelled to send his four sons to the Ottoman capital to be trained for military service. The youngest, Gjergj Kastrioti (1403-68), who would become the Albanians’ greatest national hero, captured the sultan’s attention. Renamed Iskander when he converted to Islam, the young man participated in military expeditions to Asia Minor and Europe.
Skanderbeg – the first Albanian Freedom fighter against the Jihad
When appointed to administer a Balkan district, Iskander became known as Skanderbeg. After Ottoman forces under Skanderbeg’s command suffered defeat in a battle near Nis, in present-day Serbia, in 1443, Skanderbeg rushed to Krujë and tricked a Turkish pasha into surrendering him the Kastrioti family fortress. Skanderbeg then re-embraced Roman Catholicism and declared a holy war against the Turks.
On March 1, 1444, Albanian chieftains gathered in the cathedral of Lezhë with the prince of Montenegro and delegates from Venice and proclaimed Skanderbeg commander of the Albanian resistance. All of Albania, including most of Epirus, accepted his leadership against the Ottoman Turks, but local leaders kept control of their own districts. Under a red flag bearing Skanderbeg’s heraldic emblem, an Albanian force of about 30,000 men held off brutal Ottoman campaigns against their lands for twenty-four years.
Twice the Albanians overcame sieges of Krujë. In 1449 the Albanians routed Sultan Murad II himself. Later, they repulsed attacks led by Sultan Mehmed II. In 1461 Skanderbeg went to the aid of his suzerain, King Alfonso I of Naples, against the kings of Sicily. The government under Skanderbeg was always under attack from the Ottomans, since, at times some local Albanian rulers who had converted to Islam cooperated with the Ottoman Turks against him.
Despite their guerilla tactics in the hardy mountains of Albania, the partisan fighters, failed in the long run to halt the overwhelming Ottoman onslaught. Krujë fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1478; Shkodër succumbed in 1479 after a fifteen-month siege; and the Venetians evacuated Durrës in 1501. The defeats triggered a great Albanian exodus to southern Italy, especially to the kingdom of Naples, as well as to Sicily, Greece, and Romania. Most of the Albanian refugees belonged to the Orthodox Church.
When Skanderbeg died at Lezhë, the sultan reportedly exclaimed, “Asia and Europe are mine at last. Woe to Christendom! She has lost her sword and shield.”
This Albanian resistance to the Turks in the mid-fifteenth century won them acclaim all over Europe.
But with support from Naples and the Vatican, resistance to the Ottoman Empire continued mostly in Albania’s highlands, where the chieftains even opposed the construction of roads to prevent the coming of Ottoman soldiers and tax collectors.
Despite their guerilla tactics in the hardy mountains of Albania, the partisan fighters, failed in the long run to halt the overwhelming Ottoman onslaught. Krujë fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1478; Shkodër succumbed in 1479 after a fifteen-month siege; and the Venetians evacuated Durrës in 1501.
The defeats triggered a great Albanian exodus to southern Italy, especially to the kingdom of Naples, as well as to Sicily, Greece, and Romania. Most of the Albanian refugees belonged to the Orthodox Church. A vast majority who stayed back were forced to embrace Islam during the four centuries of Ottoman tyranny. This process of conversion was helped by the Albanian traitors who had earlier given up their ancestral faith and embraced Islam. This led to the continued emigration of Albanians to Italy.
Some of the émigrés to Italy converted to Roman Catholicism, and the rest established a Uniate Church. The Albanians of Italy significantly influenced the Albanian national movement in the next four centuries, and Albanian Franciscan priests, most of whom were descended from émigrés to Italy, played a significant role in the preservation of Catholicism in Albania’s northern regions.
The arrogant and cruel Ottoman sultans considered themselves to be their God’s agent on earth – the Khalifah (Caliph), the leader of a religious–not a national–state whose purpose was to defend and propagate Islam at the point of the sword, using foul means. Non-Muslims paid extra taxes (Jeziya) and held an inferior status. Only by converting to Islam, the conquered victims could elevate themselves to the privileged stratum of society.
Devshirme, the tribute of forcibly obtaining Christian children to be converted to Islam and conscripted into the Ottoman Army was an inhuman tax levied by the Ottomans on the Albanians
In the early years of the empire, all Ottoman high officials were the sultan’s bondsmen the children of Christian subjects chosen in childhood for their promise as sturdy fighters, converted to Islam, and educated to serve the Ottoman army. Some were selected from prisoners of war, others sent as ransom, and still others obtained through devshirme, the tribute of children levied in the Ottoman Empire’s Balkan lands.
Many of the best fighters in the sultan’s elite guard, the Janissaries, were conscripted as young boys from Christian Albanian families, and high-ranking Ottoman officials often had Albanian bodyguards.
In the early seventeenth century, many Albanian converts to Islam migrated elsewhere within the Ottoman Empire and found careers in the Ottoman military and government. Some attained powerful positions in the Ottoman administration. The blue eyed and blond, Mustapha Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) was the descendant of these Janissary émigrés.
The Ottoman authorities always stressed on the conversion of Christians to Islam. In addition to open physical coercion, from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, economic pressures and coercion was used and this produced the conversion of about two-thirds of the empire’s Albanian Muslims.
The Ottoman Turks first focused their conversion campaigns on the Roman Catholic Albanians of the north and then on the Orthodox population of the south. The Ottoman authorities increased taxes, especially poll taxes, to make conversion economically attractive. During and after a Christian counteroffensive against the Ottoman Empire from 1687 to 1690, when Albanian Catholics revolted against their Muslim overlords, the Ottoman pasha of Pec, a town in the south of present-day Yugoslavia, retaliated by forcing entire Albanian villages to accept Islam at the pain of death.
He burnt down their farmlands, held young boys hostage to be sent to Istanbul (Constantinople). The Ottomans encouraged the new converts and the Albanian beys to move from the northern mountains to the fertile lands of Kosovo, which had been abandoned by thousands of Orthodox Serbs fearing reprisals for their collaboration with the Christian forces. This is how Kosovo became a Albanian Muslim majority area, which had till then belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Christians.
On March 1, 1444, Albanian chieftains gathered in the cathedral of Lezhë with the prince of Montenegro and delegates from Venice and proclaimed Skanderbeg commander of the Albanian resistance.
In the seventeenth century most of the conversion’s in Albania to Islam took place in the lowlands of the Shkumbin River valley, where the Ottoman Turks could easily apply pressure because of the area’s accessibility to Ottoman armies.
The Bektashi dervishes were outwardly Muslims, but practiced a mixed form of religion that derived from many strains of their Christian faith before their forced conversion to Islam
Many Albanians, however, converted in name only and secretly continued to practice Christianity. Often one branch of a family became Muslim while another remained Christian, and many times these families celebrated their respective religious holidays together. In the early seventeenth century, Albanians were forced to convert to Islam in great numbers. Entire clans had to submit to Islam at the pain of death. Within a century, the Albanian Islamic community was split between Sunni Muslims and adherents of the Bektashi sect that mixed Islam with pre-Islamic beliefs.
The Bektashi were outwardly Muslims, but practiced a mixed form of religion that derived from many strains of their faiths before their forced conversion to Islam. As early as the eighteenth century, the Bektashi dervishes, had spread into the empire’s Albanian-populated lands. Bektashism became the Janissaries’ official faith in the late sixteenth century. The Bektashi sect also contains features of the Turks’ pre-Islamic religion and emphasizes man as an individual. Interestingly, unveiled women, participate in Bektashi ceremonies on an equal basis, and the celebrants use wine despite the ban on alcohol in the Quran.
The Bektashis became the largest religious group in southern Albania after the sultan disbanded the janissaries in 1826. Bektashi leaders played key roles in the Albanian nationalist movement of the late nineteenth century and were to a great degree responsible for the Albanians’ traditional tolerance of religious differences.
During and after a Christian counteroffensive against the Ottoman Empire from 1687 to 1690, when Albanian Catholics revolted against their Muslim overlords, the Ottoman pasha of Pec, a town in the south of present-day Yugoslavia, retaliated by forcing entire Albanian villages to accept Islam at the pain of death. He burnt down their farmlands, held young boys hostage to be sent to Istanbul (Constantinople). The Ottomans encouraged the new converts and the Albanian beys to move from the northern mountains to the fertile lands of Kosovo, which had been abandoned by thousands of Orthodox Serbs fearing reprisals for their collaboration with the Christian forces. This is how Kosovo became a Albanian Muslim majority area, which had till then belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Christians.
The Albanian people also became divided into two distinct tribal and dialectal groupings, the Gegs and Tosks. In the rugged northern mountains, Geg shepherds lived in a tribal society often completely independent of Ottoman rule. In the south, peasant Muslim and Orthodox Tosks worked the land for Muslim beys, provincial rulers who frequently revolted against the sultan’s authority.
In the nineteenth century, the Ottoman sultans tried in vain to shore up their collapsing empire by introducing a series of reforms aimed at reining in recalcitrant local officials and dousing the fires of nationalism among its myriad peoples. The power of nationalism, however, proved too strong to counteract.
Ottoman Tyranny by Taxation a part of the Jihad
During the centuries of Ottoman rule, the Albanian lands remained one of Europe’s most backward areas. In the mountains north of the Shkumbin River, Geg herders maintained their self-governing society comprised of clans. An association of clans was called a bajrak, Taxes on the northern tribes were difficult if not impossible for the Ottomans to collect because of the rough terrain and fierceness of the Albanian highlanders. Some mountain tribes succeeded in defending their independence through the centuries of Ottoman rule, engaging in intermittent guerrilla warfare with the Ottoman Turks, who never deemed it worthwhile to subjugate them.
Until recent times, Geg clan chiefs, or bajraktars, exercised patriarchal powers, arranged marriages, mediated quarrels, and meted out punishments. The tribesmen of the northern Albanian mountains recognized no law but the Code of Lek, a collection of tribal laws transcribed in the fourteenth century by a Roman Catholic priest. The code regulates a variety of subjects, including blood vengeance. Even today, many Albanian highlanders regard the canon as the supreme law of the land.
South of the Shkumbin River, the mostly peasant Tosks lived in compact villages under elected rulers. Some Tosks living in settlements high in the mountains maintained their independence and often escaped payment of taxes. The Tosks of the lowlands, however, were easy for the Ottoman authorities to control. The Albanian tribal system disappeared there, and the Ottomans imposed a system of military fiefs under which the sultan granted soldiers and cavalrymen temporary landholdings, or timars, in exchange for military service.
By the eighteenth century, many military fiefs had effectively become the hereditary landholdings of economically and politically powerful families who squeezed wealth from their hard-strapped Christian tenant farmers.
The weakening of the Bab-ı Ali, or the Sublime Porte
The weakening of the Bab-ı Ali, or the Sublime Porte (the Sublime Porte was the name of the open court of the Ottoman sultan) and the timar system brought anarchy to the Albanian-populated lands. In the late eighteenth century, two Muslim Albanian centers of power emerged: Shkodër, under the Bushati family; and Janina, under Ali Pasha of Tepelenë. When it suited their goals, both clans cooperated with the Sublime Porte (the central government), and when it was expedient to defy the central government, each acted independently.
The Bushati family dominated the Shkodër region through a network of alliances with various highland tribes. Kara Mahmud a chieftain of the Bushati clan attempted to establish an autonomous principality and expand the lands under his control by playing off Austria and Russia against the Sublime Porte. In 1785 Kara Mahmud’s forces attacked Montenegrin territory, and Austria sent a delegation that offered to recognize him as the ruler of all Albania if he would ally himself with Vienna against the Sublime Porte. Seizing an opportunity, Kara Mahmud sent the Ottoman sultan the heads of the Austrian delegation, and in recognition for this brutal act, the Ottomans appointed him governor of Shkodër!
The government under Skanderbeg was always under attack from the Ottomans, since, at times some local Albanian rulers who had converted to Islam cooperated with the Ottoman Turks against him. When Skanderbeg died at Lezhë, the sultan reportedly exclaimed, “Asia and Europe are mine at last. Woe to Christendom! She has lost her sword and shield.”
But when Kara Mahmud attempted to wrest land from Montenegro in 1796, however, he was defeated and beheaded by the Montenegrin Serbs. Kara Mahmud’s brother, Ibrahim, cooperated with the Sublime Porte until his death in 1810, his successor, Mustafa Pasha Bushati, carried forward the policy of making war on the Christians by his participation in Ottoman military campaigns against Greek revolutionaries and rebel pashas. He cooperated with the mountain tribes and brought a large area under his control.
Beginning of Albanian Muslim warlordism which today continues in the Kosovar ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo
The Albanians, because of the preponderance of Muslims amongst them and their pan-Islam links, were the last of the Balkan peoples to develop a national consciousness, which was triggered by fears that the Ottoman Empire would lose its Albanian-populated lands to the emerging Christian Balkan states–Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece.
To secede from an emerging Christian majority state the Albanian Muslim leaders formed the Prizren League in 1878, which pressed for territorial autonomy and the partitioning of the Balkans on religious and communal lines. After decades of unrest a major anti-Christian uprising exploded in the Albanian-populated Ottoman territories in 1912, on the eve of the First Balkan War. The 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War had dealt a decisive blow to Ottoman power in the Balkan Peninsula, leaving the empire with only a precarious hold on Macedonia and the Albanian-Muslim populated lands. The Albanians’ paranoia of wanting a separate existence that would sever all cultural links with the emerging Christian nations of Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece, fueled the rise of Albanian Islamism.
The first post Russo-Turkish War treaty, the Treaty of San Stefano was signed on March 3, 1878, and it assigned Albanian-populated lands to Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria. The Treaty of San Stefano triggered profound paranoia among the Albanian Muslims meanwhile, and it spurred their leaders to organize a plan for the seceding of the lands they inhabited if necessary with militaristic means.
The Nazi-Muslim alliance in Albania during WW2
The formation of Albanian Muslim militias encouraged by hodzas or Albanian Islamic clerics during Friday prayers at the Mosques date back to these times. The Muslims also collaborated with the Nazis during WW2 when 35,000 to 40,000 Kosovo Albanians were recruited by Nazi Germany as part of the German occupation forces and security formations in Greater Albania, a state created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini that included Kosovo-Metohija, western Macedonia, and territory from Serbia and Montenegro. In Albania, there were 30,000 Albanians who were in the German occupation forces. In 1941, the German occupation forces created a Kosovo Albanian Gendarmerie with headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica.
The coming of independence and Albanian Muslim converts’ alignment with the dying Ottomans
In the spring of 1878, influential Albanian Muslims in Constantinople–including Abdyl Frasheri, the Albanian national movement’s leading figure during its early years–organized a secret committee to direct the Albanian Muslims’ designs on Christian territories. In May the group called for a general meeting of representatives from all the Albanian-militias.
In 1785 Kara Mahmud’s forces attacked Montenegrin territory, and Austria sent a delegation that offered to recognize him as the ruler of all Albania if he would ally himself with Vienna against the Sublime Porte. But Kara had other ideas. Seizing this as an opportunity, Kara Mahmud beheaded all members of the Austrian delegation and sent the Ottoman sultan the heads of the delegation. In recognition for this brutal act, the Ottomans appointed him governor of Shkodër!
On June 10, 1878, about eighty delegates, mostly Muslim religious leaders, clan chiefs, and other influential people from the four Albanian-Muslim populated Ottoman vilayets, met in the Kosovo town of Prizren. The delegates set up a standing organization, the Prizren (Muslim) League, under the direction of a central committee that had the power to impose taxes and raise an army. The Prizren League worked to gain autonomy for the Muslim Albanians and to thwart implementation of the Treaty of San Stefano, and eventually to create an independent Muslim state in the Balkans – the first in Europe. The fact that they succeeded is borne out by the existence of not one but three Muslim states in Europe today – Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Pan-Islamism raises its ugly head in the Balkans – this was to presage the Serb-Muslim civil war of the 1990s
At first the Ottoman authorities supported the Prizren League, but the Sublime Porte pressed the delegates to declare themselves to be first and foremost Ottomans rather than Albanians. Some delegates supported this position and advocated emphasizing Muslim solidarity and the defense of Muslim lands, including present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The minority Christian representatives, nominally under Frasheri’s leadership, focused on working toward Albanian autonomy and creating a sense of Albanian identity that would cut across religious and tribal lines. But because radical Muslims constituted a majority of the representatives, the Prizren League supported maintenance of Ottoman suzerainty revealing the true colors of the Muslim threat in the Balkans.
Albanian Muslims wanted to remain united with the Ottoman Empire
In July 1878, the Prizren league sent a memorandum to the Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin, which was called to settle the unresolved problems of Turkish War, demanding that all Albanians be united in a single Ottoman province that would be governed from Bitola by a Turkish governor. The Congress of Berlin ignored the league’s memorandum, and Germany’s Otto von Bismarck even proclaimed that an Albanian nation did not exist. The Congress ceded to Montenegro the cities of Bar and Podgorica and areas around the mountain villages of Gusinje and Plav, which Albanian Muslim leaders considered Muslim territory. Serbia also won Albanian-Muslim inhabited lands. The Albanian Muslims, who were loyal to their co-religionists – the Ottomans, vehemently opposed these territorial losses. Albanians also feared the possible loss of Epirus to Greece.
The Prizren League organized armed insurrections in Gusinje, Plav, Shkodër, Prizren, Prevesa, and Janina. These insurrections were very violent and saw a local pogrom against the Christian populations in the Muslim majority lands. A border tribesman at the time described the frontier as “floating on blood.”
In August 1878, the Congress of Berlin ordered a commission to trace a border between the Ottoman Empire and Montenegro. The congress also directed Greece and the Ottoman Empire to negotiate a solution to their border dispute. The Great Powers expected the Ottomans to ensure that the Albanians would respect the new borders, assuming that the sultan’s military forces were too weak to enforce any settlement and that the Ottomans could only benefit by the Albanians’ resistance.
But the Sublime Porte, in fact, armed the Albanians and allowed them to levy taxes, and when the Ottoman army withdrew from areas awarded to Montenegro under the Treaty of Berlin. Muslim Albanian tribesmen simply took control. The Albanians’ successful resistance to the treaty forced the Great Powers to alter the border, returning Gusinje and Plav to the Ottoman Empire. Their only exception was the granting to Montenegro the mixed Muslim-Christian populated coastal town of Ulcinj. But the Muslim Albanians there refused to surrender as well. Finally, the Great Powers blockaded Ulcinj by sea and pressured the Ottoman authorities to bring the Muslim Albanians under control.
Intimated by the murderous insurrections launched by the Albanian Muslims and their Ottoman overlords, wherever their unjust demands were not acceded to, the Great Powers decided in 1881 to cede Greece only Thessaly and the small Albanian-populated district of Arta.
Faced with growing international pressure “to pacify” the refractory Albanians, the sultan dispatched a large army under Dervish Turgut Pasha to suppress the Prizren League and deliver Ulcinj to Montenegro. Only a minority of the Muslim Albanians supported the Sublime Porte’s unwilling military intervention on behalf of the Christians of Montenegro against the Muslims.
The successive defeats of the Christian Albanian resistance in the face of organized Ottoman tyranny, triggered a great Albanian exodus to southern Italy, especially to the kingdom of Naples, as well as to Sicily, Greece, and Romania. Most of the Christian Albanian refugees belonged to the Orthodox Church. A vast majority who stayed back were forced to embrace Islam during the four centuries of Ottoman tyranny. This process of conversion was helped by Albanian traitors who had earlier given up their ancestral faith and embraced Islam. This led to the continued emigration of Albanians to Italy.
In April 1881, Dervish Pasha’s 10,000 men captured Prizren and later crushed the resistance at Ulcinj. The Prizren League’s leaders and their families were arrested and deported. But the Prizren League leader Frasheri, who originally received a death sentence, was only imprisoned until 1885 and exiled until his death seven years later. In the three years it survived, the Prizren League effectively made the Great Powers aware of their muscle of intimidating the big European powers and gaining thru insurrections and terror tactics what had been lost in the post-war negotiations and treaties. Montenegro and Greece received much less Albanian-populated territory than they would have won without the Prizren Muslim League’s resistance.
The new found loyalty of the Albanian Muslim converts to their erstwhile tormentors – the Ottomans, frustrated Albanian Christian leaders’ efforts to instill in their people an Albanian rather than an Ottoman identity. The Muslims wanted to be part of the Ottoman empire, while the Christian minority wanted an independent Albania, or unity with Christian Montenegro
The Albanians were united by language and history, but divided by religion – Islam and Christianity
Divided into four Vilayets, Albanians had no common geographical or political nerve center. The Albanians’ religious differences forced the Albanian population into two hostile camps – Muslim and Christian, united by language and history, but divided by religion – Islam and Christianity.
The most significant factor uniting the Albanians, their spoken language, lacked a standard literary form and even a standard alphabet. Each of the three available choices, the Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic scripts, implied different political and religious orientations opposed by one or another element of the population. The Roman Catholics used the Latin script, the Orthodox Christians used the Cyrillic script and the Muslims used the Arabic script, although very many of the Muslim converts did not know how to read or write.
The first pogroms of the Christians in Albania by Albanian Muslims
Meanwhile the Ottoman Empire continued to crumble after the Congress of Berlin. A new phenomenon was that till then the tormentors of the local Albanian Christian population were the Ottomans who spoke a different language, but now on the enemies of the Albanian Christians were to be those who spoke the same Albanian language and who had suffered under the same Ottoman tormentors, but who had made peace with the Ottomans by giving up their ancestral faith and embracing that of their ottoman tormentors. This was the irony that pit Albanian against Albanian who were now divided by religion – Islam and Christianity.
In Macedonia, where Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian-backed freedom fighters were fighting Ottoman authorities for independence, Muslim Albanians guerrilla groups started attacking Christians and in the Muslim majority areas, they started a pogrom of the Christians, forcing them to migrate out of Albania and Kosovo, making the Muslim majority character of these areas more pronounced.
In 1907 Albanian guerrillas assassinated Korçë’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch, adding to the insecurity and sense of alienation amongst the original Christian inhabitants of Albania and Kosovo.
When Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece wanted to reclaim Albanian lands during World War I, the Albanian Muslims declared independence. Meanwhile the First Balkan War, erupted before a final settlement could be worked out. Most Christian Albanians remained neutral during the war, during which the Balkan allies–the Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks–quickly drove the Turks to the walls of Constantinople.
The Montenegrins surrounded Shkodër with the help of northern Christian Albanian tribes anxious to fight the Ottoman Turks. Serb forces liberated much of northern Albania, and the Greeks captured Janina and parts of southern Albania.
Internal European Politics led to the emergence of a Muslim Albania
Taking cue from the Ottomans and then from the Muslim Albanians, the Christian Montenegrin tribesmen too resorted to terror, mass murder, and forced re-conversion in territories they claimed as historically theirs. Under these Christian led freedom movements, the Muslim Albanians had to surrender Shkodër.
The regular massacres in the Albanian wars of resistance to the Ottoman incursions led to the slavery and subjugation of the Christian population. In the early years of the empire, all Ottoman high officials were the sultan’s bondsmen the children of Christian subjects chosen in childhood for their promise as sturdy fighters, converted to Islam, and educated to serve. Some were selected from prisoners of war, others sent as ransom, and still others obtained through devshirme, the tribute of children levied in the Ottoman Empire’s Balkan lands. Many of the best fighters in the sultan’s elite guard, the Janissaries, were conscripted as young boys from Christian Albanian families.
But the European powers committed the same mistake that NATO did in our times and pressurized Serbia to give up claims on Albania. Serbia reluctantly succumbed to an ultimatum from Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy to withdraw from northern Albania. The treaty, however, left large areas with majority Albanian populations, notably Kosovo and western Macedonia, outside the new state and failed to solve the region’s problems due to a major part of the population having become Muslim during the four centuries of Muslim Ottoman tyranny.
Roots of the dispute over Kosovo
Territorial disputes have divided the Roman Catholic Albanians and Eastern Orthodox Serbs since the Middle Ages. These divisions got sharpened after the conversion of most Albanians to Islam. The worst of these conflicts are over the Kosovo region. Serbs consider Kosovo their Holy Land. They argue that their ancestors settled in the region during the seventh century, that medieval Serbian kings were crowned there, and that the Serbs’ greatest medieval ruler, Stefan Dusan, established the seat of his empire for a time near Prizren in the mid-fourteenth century.
More important, numerous Serbian Orthodox shrines, including the patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, are located in Kosovo. The key event in the Serbs’ national mythology, the defeat of their forces by the Ottoman Turks, took place at Kosovo Polje in 1389. For their part, the Muslim Albanians claim the land based on the argument that they are the descendants of the ancient Illyrians, the indigenous people of the region, and have been there since before the first Serb ever set foot in the Balkans.
Muslim Albanians have historical traditions similar to the Serbs’, but they claim their land in the name of Islam,
Although the Muslim Albanians have historical traditions similar to the Serbs’, they claim their land in the name of Islam, since their Christian ancestors had lived there since centuries before the advent of the Jihad into the Balkans. Finally, Albanians also claim Kosovo using the same argument. It was NATO’s folly that led to the thwarting of Serbian claims and gave the Jihadis a ready-made base In the heart of the Balkans. NATO’s act is a folly that will come home to roost.
Jihadi attempts to build an anti-Western alliance using Communists as their fellow travelers
The politics of Albania was under the shadow of Communism from 1945 up to 1990. This brought an additional factor in the Muslim-Christian struggle, that was going on since the Ottomans imposed Islam on the Balkans. The fall of Communism, has made the Communist activists across the globe bitter enemies of America and the West. To spike America, they can go to any extent and even sup with the Stan – literally, as they are doing with the beastlike Muslims. We do not as yet know the undercurrents of the two accomplices in undermining the war on terror.
The Communists are behind the rowdy anti-war protests in the streets of New York, London and other Western cities. They have infiltrated into the faculties of many American universities like Yale and have taken over the editorial boards of media like the New York Times, the Guardian (London).
The Muslims hated Communism as well and brought down the Communist regime in Afghanistan, in which ironically they were helped by the USA and the West,
The Communists find common cause in their anti-Americanism with the Muslims who hate everything that is non-Muslim. The Muslims hated Communism as well and brought down the Communist regime in Afghanistan, in which ironically they were helped by the USA and the West. But now with Communism, down and out, the Muslims have made an opportunistic Alliance with the Communists against the USA and the Western world.
The Muslims show themselves as being poor and that terrorism is a weapon of the poor and the weak. Far from it terrorism is a weapon of the demented Muslim mind – be they rich or poor. The common factor is that the Muslims are all motivated by evil intentions of converting all non-Muslims to Islam and using terror as a weapon of intimidation. The Muslims try to get converts among all criminals – white black, brown or yellow. In the West, they focus on criminals with an Afro-American ethnicity. Hence their Maulavis are hyperactive in seeking converts among the jailbirds and convicts of American prisons.
The criminal mind which a non-Muslim convict already has, Islam’s murderous mentality makes a dangerous brew, from which we have Richard Reids, and Jose Padillas
The Muslims exploit the feeling of alienation which some Afro-Americans feel today (for legitimate reasons) and enroll them into Islam’s violent creed. With the criminal mind which a convict already has, Islam’s murderous mentality makes a dangerous brew, from which we have Richard Reids, and Jose Padillas. The same technique works in Albania (and Chechnya), where former communists have become Islamic Terrorists of today. Basayev of Chechnya, who was brought to justice through the detonation of an explosives laden truck, was a member of the Komsomol (the Young Communist League) in the 1980s. Till he was executed, he planned the murder of school kids as the one at Beslan.
The Communist-Islamic alliance is going to be a major factor in the war on terror. Only if we recognize this as an alliance of two evils, can we beat it
The Communist-Islamic alliance is going to be a major factor in the war on terror. Only if we recognize this as an alliance of two evils, can we beat it. Whatever merits the Communist creed may have in its egalitarianism, an alliance with the beastlike Muslims is unpardonable. This makes those communists who ally themselves with the Muslims, an enemy of Humankind, punishable with the same token as would be the Jihadi terrorists. There is no other way out.
* For those uninitiated, PBUH expands to Perpetual Battle Upon Hagarism (Islam) – founded by the mass-murderer and pedophile pretender prophet Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah (Yimach Shmo – May his name and memory be obliterated).
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