Radical Islam on rise in Balkans

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 19, 2010 09:16

SKOPJE, Macedonia – An online music video praising Osama bin Laden has driven home a troubling new reality: A radical brand of Islam embraced by Al-Qaida and the Taliban is gaining a foothold in the Balkans.

"Oh Osama, annihilate the American army. Oh Osama, raise the Muslims' honor," a group of Macedonian men sing in Albanian, in video posted on YouTube last year and picked up by Macedonian media this August. "In September 2001 you conquered a power. We all pray for you."

Although most of Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority are Muslims, they have generally been secular. But experts are now seeing an increasing radicalization in pockets of the country's Islamic community, particularly after armed groups from the ethnic Albanian minority, which forms a quarter of the population of 2.1 million, fought a brief war against Macedonian government forces in 2001.


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