Kosovo moves to deradicalize jailed jihadists

Minister says he hopes classes by moderate imams will teach imprisoned fighters ‘about the dangers of religious radicalism’.

Kosovo launched Friday a program aimed at de-radicalizing its jailed jihadists, including lectures in prisons by moderate imams.

More than 90 percent of Kosovo’s 1.8 million inhabitants are Muslims who practice a moderate form of Islam.

But over the past few years more than 300 Kosovo nationals have gone to join jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq. About 50 of them have been killed.

It is believed that they fell under the influence of a group of local imams educated in Arab countries that practice a radical interpretation of Islam.

Of the 100 or so jihadists who have returned to Kosovo, around 80 are currently being detained, either found guilty of crimes or awaiting trial.

The justice ministry said Friday it had reached a deal with the Islamic Community of Kosovo (BIK) which will allow moderate imams to give the detainees religious classes.

“I am convinced that organizing of religious lectures for prisoners will increase awareness among them about the dangers of religious radicalism,” Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri said.

A total of 20 imams have been selected for the task after having passed a security check.

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