Living With the Albanians
In the current debate on the future of Kosovo, it is often overlooked that hundreds of thousands of Serbs and other non-Albanians had fled the province under Albanian pressure well before the KLA terror campaign of 1996-1998. Under Tito, the Albanians’ share of the population thus rose from 64 percent in 1953 to 77 percent immediately following his death in 1980.
To understand the conditions that prompted the exodus of non-Albanians from Kosovo even in peacetime, we don’t need to look further than Cherry Hill, NJ. This prosperous Philadelphia suburb known for good schools is the home to the Duka brothers, three “Yugoslav” Albanians arrested in connection with the jihadist plot to attack Fort Dix.
As we now know, the extended Duka family (three brothers, a grandmother, parents, wives, children) was in the habit of slaughtering lambs in their backyard with a kitchen knife. There were numerous complaints about fetid diapers tossed into an open trash dumpster that sat in the driveway, near an array of cars and pickup trucks without registration or license plates. Roosters ran about their yard, and juveniles roamed the neighborhood, sometimes setting off fireworks.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that police cited the Dukas repeatedly on disorderly persons charges, including marijuana possession, improper behavior, prowling, disturbing the peace, and obstructing the administration of law; they were fined between $20 and $830 on various occasions. The brothers were also issued some 50 traffic citations between 1997 and 2006 for speeding, driving without licenses, driving while on the suspended list, failure to appear in court, and other charges. They parked oversize trucks on the streets and operated unauthorized roofing business from home. But despite the attention from Cherry Hill code enforcers and police officers—who were called to the Duka home at least 10 times over the last seven years—their lifestyle of choice continued unhindered until they and three other Muslims (one of them also Albanian) were arrested four weeks ago.
Because of the Dukas’ behavior at least two families decided to move from the tree-lined street. According to the Inquirer, “a couple who requested that their last name not be published because they fear reprisals said they were one of the families who moved”:
Patty, 35, said the Duka family moved into the four-bedroom Colonial next to them in 1999. “First, they cut down all the trees for firewood,” she said. Then came the barnyard animals and the watermelon vines growing between their houses. On weekends, dozens of visitors would arrive in vans with New York license plates, the couple said. “The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I looked out my kitchen window and saw the women slit a lamb’s throat with a kitchen knife,” Patty said. “I was so upset, I called my husband on the phone. He said to call the police and I said, ‘No, call the Realtor,’” she said.
That option is available when there is but one Albanian family in a street—and even then you withhold your last name in fear of reprisals. When you are one of very few non-Albanian families left in a street, you’ll have explosive devices tossed into your house. When there are just a few of you left in a village, you’ll be killed, your churches will be ransacked and dynamited, and even the remains of your ancestors desecrated.
It is noteworthy that, like hundreds of thousands of their kinsmen in Kosovo who have been puring into southern Serbia from Albania ever since 1941, the Dukas were illegal immigrants: they came from Mexico as children many years ago. Had they not indulged in jihadism, no doubt they would have been amnestied in a year or two.
That the Dukas were evidently able to preserve and celebrate their national culture and their time-honored traditions in such a pristine form after so many years in the United States is a credit to their community’s resilience. That they have remained here for so long, undisturbed by immigration officials, even though that culture and those traditions had differed from those of the majority community is a clear proof of America’s commitment to diversity and a credit to her tolerance.
As Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt commented on his township in the aftermath of the Duka case, “It’s a very progressive community.” True to his ideals, only last month Mr. Platt declared, at the ground-breaking ceremony for an Islamic house of worship in Cherry Hill, “We have many religions here . . . now, thank God, we’re going to have a mosque.”
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