Letter: `Collateral' killing
Thursday 03 June 1999
Sir: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown ("Tariq Ali doesn't speak for Muslims", 27 May) did not include Jeremy Hardy by name among her former heroes of the Left who seem blind to the sufferings of the Kosovars, but he would be on my list, particularly after his letter in response (28 May).
Serbian "Orthodox ultra-nationalism" despises the Kosovar Muslims because it equates them, wrongly, with the Ottoman Muslims whose forces defeated Serbian forces on a battlefield in Kosova in 1389, leading to centuries of Islamic rule in the region. Anti-Albanian/Kosovar sentiments were fostered further by 19th-century theories of ethnic inferiority, and more recently by post-Cold War Western demonisation of Islamic fundamentalism, as well as by Milosevic's need to resurrect a butt for Serbian nationalism in his own post-Communist power play.
It is not straightforward, but Alibhai-Brown was not wrong in identifying Serbian actions in Kosova as actions against Muslims, not just against people most of whom happen to be Muslim (as Hardy happens to have "been raised a Christian"). I find it extraordinary, unless he is ignorant of what he writes about, that Hardy so high-handedly dismisses Alibhai-Brown's feelings of personal identification and sub-conscious threat.
I am not equating the purges in Kosova with the Holocaust (there are some significant differences), but would he also deny the right of a Jew to personalise that event?
In case Hardy thinks I am excluded from his body of the elect who have "thought about" the war by "being moved by race or creed", I am not a Muslim or an Albanian - or a Jew.
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