Second Casualty of War: Historic Architectural Sites ; Saudi Aid Agencies, among Others, Have Begun Renovating and Tearing Down Mosques, Historic Sites

By Peter Ford writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 25, 2001 | Go to article overview

Second Casualty of War: Historic Architectural Sites ; Saudi Aid Agencies, among Others, Have Begun Renovating and Tearing Down Mosques, Historic Sites


Peter Ford writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Off a dusty sidestreet in this historic town in western Kosovo, the venerable stone domes of a 16th-century Turkish bathhouse rise with time-weathered grace above a weedy courtyard.

Burned by Serb paramilitaries during the war two years ago, the baths are closed, awaiting restoration.

Across the street stands the Bathhouse Mosque, which was also burned. Today, though, it boasts a suburban-style glassed-in veranda, lemon yellow walls, and a sterile whitewashed prayer room. Nothing about its appearance hints that the mosque, too, was built 400 years ago by the Ottomans.

That is because a Saudi Arabian aid agency, the Saudi Joint Relief Committee, rebuilt it last year. And the work that the group has done here and elsewhere in Kosovo has drawn fierce criticism for imposing Gulf aesthetics and fundamentalist Islam on a part of the world where both are foreign.

"The Saudis have been very destructive" of the local Muslim heritage, says Andras Riedlmayer, a Harvard conservationist who has catalogued Kosovo's architectural history. "Their approach is to say they will build everything bigger, better, newer, and more Islamic."

That means they have painted or plastered over the decorative frescoes that are a unique aspect of Balkan Muslim architecture, but which violate the austere Wahabi religious precepts that rule in Saudi Arabia. "The Saudi mission [in Kosovo] has to do with their own sectarianism and agenda," says Dr. Riedlmayer.

The Saudi aid agency, which says it has spent $150 million in Kosovo so far to provide emergency aid to former refugees and to rebuild schools, hospitals, and houses, does more than just rebuild damaged mosques.

In Pristina, the capital, a demolition gang paid by the committee tore down the undamaged 18th century Kater Llula (Four Fountains) mosque last year to build a new one on the site, complete with a shopping mall on the ground floor.

Having survived the war, Kater Llula fell prey, say local conservationists, to the Saudis' desire to spread their brand of Islam in the Balkans. In doing so, complains Hadji Mehmetai, the head of Pristina's Institute for the Protection of Historic Monuments, they brushed aside his order to save the old mosque.

"They ignored my stop order, and now they are building a much worse mosque with architectural elements that have nothing to do with local traditions," says Mr. Mehmetai.

Historical buildings lost

The Saudis and local Islamic authorities are not the only ones to disregard Mehmetai's rulings. In the past two years, he says, he has issued 45 protection orders to save historical buildings, constructed from timbers, mud bricks, and weathered tiles in typical local style. Thirty-eight of them were ignored.

Mehmetai would be unwise to insist. Pristina's planning officer was shot dead earlier this year for opposing the construction of new office space on a site occupied by ancient buildings.

The United Nations administration that runs Kosovo, UNMIK, has done little to help, according to Gonzalo Retamal, the head of UNMIK's Culture Department. "The vision inside UNMIK is that culture is not important," he says. UNMIK police, say foreign administrators here, are simply too afraid of violent consequences if they if they get involved in property disputes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Second Casualty of War: Historic Architectural Sites ; Saudi Aid Agencies, among Others, Have Begun Renovating and Tearing Down Mosques, Historic Sites
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.