A journalist in Kosovo has been accused of apostasy and threatened with beheading after writing about outside militant groups recruiting Kosovar Muslims to fight in the Middle East.
Visar Duriqi, a journalist from The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and news portal Express, told Agence France-Presse he had received death threats through Facebook. Duriqi urged Kosovo’s government to provide him protection as a precautionary measure until those who are behind the threats are brought to justice.
Kosovo is a secular state with a relatively moderate Islamic tradition. Duriqi had reported on radical groups that are trying to convince young Kosovars to fight with Islamist militants. Kosovo police arrested 40 citizens suspected of involvement with terrorism in Syria and Iraq on Aug. 11.
At the end of July, a Kosovo man who was fighting alongside rebels in Syria, Lavdrim Muhaxheri, posted a picture on his Facebook page in which he was beheading a Syrian soldier. Duriqi investigated Muhaxheri’s career and on June 27, before the publication of the image, he published a report that uncovered Muhaxheri’s leadership in radical groups close to al-Qaida and the Islamic State in the Levant, or ISIL.
In another one of his articles, Duriqi explained the role Muhaxheri played in a Kosovar organization called the Muslim Youth Forum: “His position was Emir- leader of the military organization” As a result of the investigation, the MYF accused Duriqi of apostasy Aug. 15. In Islamic law, apostasy is punishable by death.
Reporters Without Borders has already asked Kosovar officials to react: “The government must provide him with police protection, and we have written to interior minister Bajram Rexhepi to request this”, RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire announced Sept. 3.