Page 632 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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alex Dragnich and Slavko Todorovich
The albanians continued to provide guard service to the Patriarchate in Peć and the Dečani Monastery, but in re- cent years with notable lack of success.
Late in the 19th century two english ladies visited Koso- vo(MissMuirMackenzieandMissa.P.irby).intheirbook, Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-europe, they reported the respect among albanians for the Serbian holy places. The authors blamed the Turks and their pro- paganda for any albanian excesses that occasionally took place in the area. They maintained that the Turks were the ones who incited young Muslim albanians to ill-treat the Serbs, to “throw stones and filth” at Serbian funerals, and toshout“insultsandobscenitiesatChristiansonSundays.”
that Serbs fall into the first category. The Kosovo syndrome seemingly does not let them act in any other way.
albanians are survivors, too, but in most cases they as- sured their continuity in an easier way. islamization was one such way. The phenomenon of “crypto-Christianity,” practiced profusely by many albanians, both Roman Cath- olic and Orthodox, is proof. This cannot be said, however, to be a character trait of albanians, or even duplicity, but rather a pragmatic solution of an intelligent survivor. again we come to the question: could not the Serbs have done the same thing? Yes, and those who were not burdened with Kosovo did it (the Bosnians).
americanhistorianStavroSkendidefinesthealbanian crypto-Christians as follows: “The crypto-Christians lived in regions near those inhabited by Muslims and professed islam, but satisfied their consciences by practicing Christi- anity in private. They emerged in periods of outbursts of anti-Christian fanaticism” (The albanian National awak- ening, Princeton, 1967, p. 12). Skendi continues: “in the north the crypto-Christians were concentrated in the Pashalik of Prizren; they were called laramane (motley) and they lived chiefly around ipek [Peć] and in the plain of Kosovo.” Miss Mackenzie called these albanians “secret Christians.” She cited a case, in those border areas where albanians and Montenegrins lived, of a young albanian Muslim letting the Serbian priest into his house, because his parents were still clinging to the old faith, while he him- self was a hybrid.
There was another religious phenomenon in albania, mostly in the southern areas, with the same rationale. The Muslim sect of Bektashism (a product of anatolia), as ear- ly as the 13th century, existed in the frontier region where Christianity, islam, and paganism coexisted. Bektashis were not so much anti-Christian as they were pro-albanian. They proclaimed themselves to be brothers of all peoples, which is why the Slavs preferred the Bektashis to the Sunni converts. The latter, however, were more numerous than the Bektashis in the regions of Kosovo, Montenegro, Her- zegovina, and Bosnia.
The Sunni fervor prompted the puritanical Montene- grin Prince-Bishop Danilo (1670–1735) to purge converted Montenegrins. in their Muslim fanaticism, the latter had gone so far as to assist the invading Ottoman force to enter the Montenegrin capital of Cetinje. National bards sing of the brothers Martinović who executed the eerie plan of eradicating the traitorous poturice (converts) with their consecrated maces. it was done in the dark of one Christ- mas eve (1702). This crepuscular feat immensely impressed Russian Tsar Peter the Great. He ordered money, gifts, and missals and icons to be sent to the prince-bishop of Mon- tenegro.
The massacre resulted from an intense hatred of every- thing Muslim, including people of their own blood who had converted to islam. as a young man of 20, when he attained power, Danilo Petrović-Njegoš, felt rather strong-
 Sultan Mehmed II in 1479, portrait by italian painter Gentile Bellini
But it was not only the Turks who were the source of such in- cidents. Other quarters (e.g., Rome and Vienna) contributed their bit to poison the atmo- sphere in Kosovo, Metohija, and the border area between Mon- tenegro and the albanian re- gions. Both italy and austria- Hungary had no interest in main- taining peace and harmony in those regions.
While one should never un- derestimate the importance of foreign schemes in muddling relations between the Slavs and the Muslims in the area, the phe- nomenon of islamization, and all that it meant in terms of per- sonal welfare and social advance-
ment, still remained the main cause of the estrangement. To the albanians, islam was an opportunity that they could not let pass. it was a vehicle not only to get even, but, in addition, to outrank the Greeks and the Slavs.
The islamization process was a continuous one, but its fervor and intensity were not. at certain periods, in certain areas, with certain people, the process would explode, usu- ally triggered by some violent event. Something would happen, such as albanians siding with Venice in a dispute with the Porte, or the Serbs would join the austrian army in its incursions into the territory. The aftermath would be intensified islamization. Pressures would be applied, and on such occasions Serbs would usually show more intran- sigence than albanians. The albanians could never under- stand that inherent Serbian hostility toward the Turks, but then they had no Kosovo in their heritage. The Greeks, on the other hand, understood it very well—they had Ther- mopylae.
One must credit all Balkan people with one thing: ca- pacity for survival. But some did it the hard way; others compromised and adapted to what they regarded as a tem- porary situation. even today, modern history has proved

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