Gjilan/Gnjilane, Kosovo


The municipality of Gjilan/Gnjilane (referred to as Gjilan from here on) in south-east Kosovo is home to a population of just over 90,000, comprised of over ten different ethnicities.[1] Despite its reputation for relatively good ethnic relations in comparison with surrounding regions, Gjilan still suffers from cultural tensions and socioeconomic challenges. One of the challenges facing the region is poverty and unemployment.

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The greatest extremist threat to Kosovo comes from jihadist groups and returning foreign fighters, however there is also a degree of threat from Albanian nationalism. The threat from militant Islam originated from the return of imams from the Middle East having been educated in Salafi jihadist Islamism.

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Gjilan has been nationally recognised as a particularly vulnerable city in Kosovo due to its significant socioeconomic decline over the past two decades, and its difficulties in tackling violent extremism. For example, one of the most prominent radical imams in Kosovo, Zekirja Qazimi, preached at an illegal mosque and organised youth camps and sermons in Gjilan and the surrounding municipalities.[15]

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