Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Pristina, 25 Jan. (AKI) - Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova, who died of lung cancer last Saturday, will be buried in Pristina without religious rites, his spokesman Muhamed Hamiti said Wednesday. A committee created to organise the burial to be held on Thursday has decided that that it will be a national and state funeral, without religious rites,” Hamiti told the Albanian language daily Koha ditore. There have been reports that Rugova, a Muslim, had converted to Catholicism, triggering speculations whether he would be buried according to Catholic, or Muslim rites.

Some Catholic priests in Pristina have said that Rugova was a “Catholic in his heart” but wouldn’t be buried as Catholic so as not to irritate the mostly Muslim Albanian community. The burial committee, which consists of members of Rugova family and leading political figures appears to have opted for a compromise solution aimed at not to offending either side.

Rugova, who was in essence a pacifist, has asked, according to his family, to be buried in the memorial complex in the centre of Pristina, dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), which started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998 prompted by Belgrade's persecution of Kosovo's Albanian ethnic majority.

Officially, Kosovo is still a part of Serbia, though it has been under United Nations control since Serbian forces were pushed from the province by a NATO bombing campaign in 1999. Serbian president Boris Tadic has asked a permission to attend a funeral, but his request was turned down by the burial committee.

"It is elementary duty that the president of Serbia goes to Kosovo, which is a part of the territory of this country and its integrity, to pay due respect to the political representative of the Albanian people," Tadic said.

The statement would have riled most ethnic Albanians who favour independence for the territory.

"President Tadic isn’t welcome to the funeral, particularly after his last comments. The president of Serbia hasn’t chosen the best moment to express the ambitions of his state towards Kosovo," an unnamed government official told Reuters newsagency.

Belgrade opposes Kosovo's independence. Talks on the final status of the province, which were scheduled for Wednesday, were postponed to February because of Rugova’s death.

The funeral will be attended by many foreign leaders and dignataries with most Balkan countries represented.


Kristian said...

Its sad that some of these articles have been deleted from Anything mentioning that he was a christian have been deleted or any blog that mentions this is deleted. Censorship! how cruel..

Balkan Update said...

I am not sure why they would delete something like this from their website. Personally I do think he converted to Catholicism and the reason was that he didn't feel very comfortable who he was. This is another reason why he spent most of his leisure time drinking alcohol and chain smoking.

As far as whether this would change my opinion, I have to say no. Despite the fact that he deserves a good deal of credit for internationalizing the Kosovo issue, his contribution is overly exaggerated. The fact of the matter is that if Kosovars hadn't started the war in 1998, NATO would have never intervened (It didn't intervene for 8 years 1990-1998 while Rugova was in charge), and Kosovo would have still been ruled by Serbia today (believe you me).

What lowers my opinion of Mr. Rugova even more is that fact that he didn't have the courage to say that he had converted to Christianity (if he in fact had done so). He knew this would have lowered his popularity a great deal-and God didn't he love to be at the center of attention.

Overall I think most people of Kosovo would have held Rugova in a lower regard if they had known he had converted to another religion. This is not because Kosovars are very devout Muslims- It’s because most people would have not understood his reasoning for doing so. He lived 60 years as a Muslim and then all the sudden he became a Christian? Why?

In any case, we are just speculating here. We don't know for sure if he had indeed converted. If he had indeed converted it was because he wanted to be “adored” in the western world, not because he believed in Catholicism more the Islam. Based in the Information we know about him, he didn't truly believe in Good!