Being part of many travelers and bloggers Facebook groups gives me the chance to meet plenty of them while they visit Kosovo. Some of them, somehow embarrassingly, accept that Kosovo is not (as bad as) what they were expecting. Whenever I ask them to explain what they mean by “not what I was expecting”, their common answer is that “it’s modern”, “people are well-dressed and Western-like”, “the bars and restaurants are great” and so on. In addition, from my traveling experience, I’ve had many people ask me many questions about Kosovo, from simple ones about location and population to complex ones about politics and the future. However, the most difficult question I have to answer is the one about religion.
According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS), the total resident population in Kosovo in December 2016 was 1.783.531. In 2011, when the last census was carried out, the total population was 1,739,825. From this number, 91% were Albanian, 3.4% were Serbs, and 5.6% were others. Furthermore, the numbers concerning religion, according to KAS is as you can see in the table below:
As you can see, about 48% of people declared themselves to belong to the Islamic religion (actually, I don’t remember myself being asked about it or even being there when the census people visited my family), 1.10% Catholic, and 0.74% Orthodox. A smaller percentage didn’t answer, chose Other, or no religion.
That is why I was really surprised when, accidentally, I came to read an article in CBSNEWS about the most heavily Muslim countries on Earth where Kosovo was ranked the 22nd with 95.6% Muslim population. As a Kosovo citizen, I must say I disagree with this ranking for a couple of reasons:
- Kosovo population, although they might declare themselves Muslim out of habit, actually do not practice religion. Someone has started referring to this kind of Muslims as Muslim “lite”, or nominal/cultural Muslims (although this is being opposed by religious people). For instance, I have stopped saying I’m a Muslim; especially, after having been asked that question several times over a glass of beer. I remember once when I was asked this question while having beers with a new friend and I responded: “Of course I’m a Muslim. Cheers!”. There are many people like me who have stopped “being” a Muslim; however, on the other hand, there are still people who keep “being” Muslims only during Ramadan and then at the end of it go to clubs and bars and celebrate the end of it by drinking or others who claim to be Muslims and keep doing everything Muslims shouldn’t be doing.
- At any given time (day or night, summer or winter), you can see Kosovo citizens consuming alcohol in the bars and restaurants. Moreover, Kosovo produces alcohol as well (Peja, Prishtina, Sabaja; wine is produced mainly in Rahovec and Suhareka). If only 4.4% are non-Muslims then why Kosovo imported 14.068 alcoholic beverages in 2016 (statistics by KAS) and what happens with all the production of alcoholic beverages when only 7.120 gets exported?
- There are a couple of beer or/and wine festivals organized in Kosovo and they are among the most famous and attended festivals in the country. About 40.000 people attended this year’s Beer and Wine Fest, while Hardh Fest had over 50.000 visitors.
Another yearly event organized in Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, is Verë n’dimën which attracts people of all ages and offers food and both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks for the customers. It actually is a kind of Christmas market, what you can see in almost all European cities and elsewhere in the world.
- Out of 747,228 voters in the 2017 general elections in Kosovo, the political party Fjala, which is known for its Islamic orientation and ideas, managed to get only 1.10% of votes, or 7,992 (a little bit more than the number of alcoholic beverages exported from Kosovo). In a country with 95.6% Muslims, this political party should have been governing the country now, right?
Dear unknown CSBNEWS journalist, before you put up an article as such do your research (if you’re unable to visit the country yourself or pay a journalist in the country) and get the facts straight.
Dear tourists, Kosovo is as Western as any other Western country. Come and see it with your own eyes.
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