Shortcomings in society, turn some young people more towards religion
Rozafa Berisha, Anthropologist of Culture considers that the new forms of how religion is practiced in Kosova, especially among young people, are not only a global trend but also a reflection of the lack of future and hope. This is inevitably related to the feeling of desperation and frustration following the period after independence.
“This period, albeit with a promise of social and economic security, was characterized with a loss of hope among youth due to the presence of strong non-ethical practices in political and public life in general”, says she.
Berisha adds that the young people of Kosovo, as victims of the dynamic shortcomings in society, during a very short period of time, did not have as many alternatives as they aspired, while being aware that they deserve them as much as those in other democratic societies. She considers that while feeling excluded even from the free movement, young people are looking into religion as into one of the actual alternatives, which may ensure them progress and moral appreciation, a feeling of belonging and hope for future, which they lack in real life.
Ahmet Sadriu, the head of press and publishing in Islamic Society of Kosova, argues that this rise in number of believers among young people, is related to the new circumstances created in Kosova following two major developments – the fall of monism and independence of the country. He thinks that these two factors have given way to more convenient environment to express and manifest faith, respectively to the free education of youth.
“Education and spiritual growth is a very important segment in each society. For many decades, there was an effort for our youth to be educated in the atheistic spirit, but now that’s gone, and it is common for young people to seek spiritual education, spiritual growth,”, says Sadriu.
He adds that the respective institutions should take the responsibility of ensuring appropriate education, so that the youth will not be educated on the street with different religious and sectarian ideologies.
Don Kastrioti, a priest in the Catholic Church in Prishtina, considers that religion and belief in God have always been present among Albanians, and have been passed on to young people from their families. He believes that most of the young Catholics attend mass on Sundays as well as church activities.
“I believe that the young people in Kosova are very healthy. In most of the cases they have a mindset and ideal of achieving something bigger in life and do not give up on faith in God”, says he.
For the three years now, Don Kastrioti says that OSCE organizes interreligious meetings with Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and Orthodox as participants, aimed at eliminating possible prejudices among young people of Kosova. According to him, young people are quite interested for these meetings and may be taken as an example of interreligious harmony.
“We all share the same blood and language, and this together with faith in God are the reasons that bring us together”, says he.
In an unpretentious survey carried out by KosovaLive, with 100 schoolchildren and students of ages 17-25, 56 were presented as Muslims, 23 as Catholics, 13 as Agnostics and 8 as Atheists.
Though not a scientific sample, 46 of respondents in the survey regard religion as an important part of their lives, 30 as of average importance, whereas 24 as not important at all. In total, 40 of the respondents said that they pray regularly, 22 say that they do it sometimes, whereas 38 of them claim that they do not pray at all.
Asked whether there is interreligious tolerance in Kosova, 50 of the surveyed respond positively, 19 had “no” as an answer, whereas 31 of the respondents think that there is tolerance to a certain degree, though there is still much to be done.
Klarisa, 20, thinks that there are two extremes:
“There are some very tolerant people and some entirely non-tolerant. However, in general I think that tolerance dominates ”, says she.
According to Dardan, 21, student, there is tolerance “because the ideology of nationalism is more powerful than that of religion”, whereas Nora, of the same ages, thinks that tolerance exists “only until the moment when two young people want to marry each other.”
From the total of 100 respondents, 71 have visited religious objects of other faith, 11 have never had such a visit, while 18 responded to have not had the chance yet.
“I think that they are good cultural objects”, says Blendi, 18, adding that that he has visited both churches and mosques.
As far as the inclusion of religious education in schools, Arlinda, 22, says that recently she thought it was not necessary, because if they had been interested in faith, they could have learn about it outside school.
“Albeit, considering the recent developments, one can notice misunderstandings, and that various persons are lecturing for their interests, brainwashing the young people. This is perhaps why it would be better for them to be informed appropriately ”, says she.
On the other hand, Nora, 21, thinks that school should be separate from religion.
“Even though many think that religion could be taught by being included as a course in schools, so that they do not become victims of propagandas , there are no indications yet that such a course would raise the awareness within the society”, says she.
In KosovaLive’s survey, 68 out of 100 respondents consider that teaching religion should be kept out of schools, whereas 38 support this idea.
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