The Andy Murray’s victory over Novak Djokovic, that ended Britain’s 77-year wait for men’s Wimbledon champion, wasn’t a victory only for 15,000 British spectators and 20 million TV viewers, but it was a victory also for British Albanians and all Albanians who see Djokovic as a beacon of Serbian nationalism, a nationalism that culminated in killing thousands of Kosovo Albanian during Kosovo war in 1998-1999.
Novak Djokovic, the dangerous Serbian nationalist
By Monika Shehi (as written on DECEMBER 6, 2011)
In the interview he gave the German magazine, Spiegel Online, on October 7, 2011, Djokovic said he did not regret the inflammatory remarks he made about Kosovo in a Belgrade meeting which resulted in an attack on German, Bosnian, Croatian and American embassies (the latter of which the Serbian crowd tried to set on fire). His claim is that “we are seeking justice but cannot get it.” Justice, according to Djokovic, means not recognizing Kosovo as an independent country but forcing its predominantly Albanian and Muslim population to continue to accept Serbian rule because Djokovic’s father is from there.
While Djokovic and the Spiegel reporter spend a lot of time commiserating over how “scared” twelve year old Djokovic was during the NATO bombing and the death of his tennis teacher’s sister (who died when a wall crumbled at what must have been a relatively advanced age), they barely mention the reason for the NATO bombing.
During the Serbian massacres in Kosovo, more than 1.5 million people were banished from their homes and forced to live in squalor like animals (and more then 12,000 Albanian civilians were killed).
The Serbian government neither acknowledged nor stopped its active killings until the Serbian army was stopped by the NATO bombing of Belgrade (which did not target civilians although a few civilians became casualties). Djokovic was struggling to keep playing tennis. Albanian Kosovars were struggling to keep their families alive. The Kosovo massacre was the culmination of years of ethnic and religious discrimination. This is why the Albanian Kosovars refuse to accept Serbian rule.
Even the bravest Serbian writers have not admitted to the atrocities committed by Serbs in Kosova and have focused instead on the atrocities committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/opinion/06Kandic.html
To date, Serbia has not apologized or acknowledged the ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars.
It is true that some Kosovo Liberation Army units and generals tried to avenge the killings of Kosovar Albanians by killing innocent Serbian civilians. They should and have been brought to trial in Hague. It is also true that the Kosovo government has not acknowledged nor apologized for the atrocities committed on Serbian civilians by Kosovo Liberation Army forces. They should do both. However, Serbian war criminals overwhelmingly outnumber Albanian Kosovar criminals and the number of Albanian Kosovar victims is far, far greater than that of Serbian victims.
Djokovic is intentionally emphasizing only Serbian suffering while refusing to acknowledge Serbian crimes. Furthermore, he is using his superstar status to fan the flames of Serbian nationalism, the Serbian hatred of Kosovar Albanians and Serbia’s claims over a land that has historically been and is currently predominantly populated by Albanian Kosovars. And he’s doing it in the name of his religion, taking advantage of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. One chilling reminder of that sentiment came in July of this year (2011) in Norway, when the Christian fundamentalist Anders Breivik killed over seventy people related to the ruling party for being too tolerant of Muslims. In his five thousand page manifesto, Breivik specifically targeted Albanian Kosovars for being Muslim (http://m.theage.com.au/world/manifesto-reveals-killers-longheld-hatreds-20110725-1hw4j.html?page=1).
A patriot is someone who stands up for his or her country when it is wronged. A nationalist is someone who stands up for his or country when it wrongs others. One is noble, the other is vile.
Djokovic’s public persona is calculated to manipulate international opinion in favor of Serbian claims to the whole region of Kosovo and he has done a very good job at putting up a good, deceiving front. Serbian nationalists are having a field day with his dominance on the tennis courts. Unfortunately Kosovar Albanians have no internationally prominent public figure to give voice to their stories. Just as unfortunately, none of the many tennis writers who have spent a lot of pixels and ink writing about the Serbian players training difficulties has investigated Djokovic’s political agenda and to what end he has used his power in Serbia. But his dominance won’t last forever, and even if it did, might does not make right. The majority of Kosovo is the rightful territory of Albanian Kosovars, even if they are Muslims. They survived ruthless Serbian oppression and persecution and they deserve to live and worship freely in their own land.
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