Verbal War between Rexhepi and Buzaku with Insults, Defamation and Inconsistent Statements
The verbal war between the de facto leader of the North Macedonia’s Islamic Religious Community (IRC), Sulejman Rehxepi, and Skender Buzaku, who is registered as the IRC leader and aspires to take over the leadership of the community, is gaining momentum as the end of the 72-hour deadline that Buzaku gave Rexhepi for leaving the IRC leader position approaches (Note: this article was published on 2. October, 2019 before the ultimatum expired). In this row, in base of which lies a simple power struggle, there is a series of inconsistent statements by both individuals, with Rehxepi’s statement today about the gay community also being discriminatory.
It all started yesterday when Skender Buzaku told the media that he had evidence of crimes being conducted at the IRC and that Rexhepi had 72 hours to “set the religious community free”, i.e. to leave.
- Set IRC free in 72 hours. We give him seventy-two hours. If he does not leave IRC that he has usurped, then we have terrible evidence, terrible facts that will leave Macedonia in awe –Buzaku told journalists.
[Source: ТВ21, date: 1. October 2019]
As it is known, every citizen possessing evidence of crime should submit it to the competent institutions (police, prosecution, etc.). In his last statement today, Buzaku says that tomorrow he will hand over the evidence he possesses to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. But granting ultimatums to individuals or institutions to which such evidence relates has no legal weight and does not help justice t obe served. If, for example, Rexhepi indeed decides to leave IRC, will Buzaku bury the evidence he says he possesses? Will they not be handed over to the authorities in such a case and will those for whom Buzaku claims are being involved in crimes not be punished?
In response to such allegations, IRC reacted with a statement the same day, and once again we enocounter elements of inconsistency:
Today Skender Buzaku should have been detained, and not allowed to speak publicly and threaten a religious leader. Today, all the muftis of the Islamic Religious Community of the Republic of North Macedonia have deposed their statements to the Public Prosecutor regarding the fraud and falsification of documents with which Skender Buzaku lied to the public and to all Muslims in the country. The failure to arrest this man clearly indicates that the state is riddled with crime and criminals such as Buzaku, Boki 13, etc., while the only currency for realizing their goals is the racket of all those who think differently.
The statement also said that “during 2005 coup, Skender Buzaku had a probation order for violence and he repeated the offense.”
[Source: ТВ21, date: 1 October 2019]
In this statement, there are a number of inconsistencies, but also falsehoods. It is said that Buzaku “should not be allowed to speak publicly and threaten a religious leader.” Who should not have allowed Buzaku to speak publicly? And how should Buzaku be prevented from doing so? Is it required for him to be detained as soon as he began addressing reporters? Despite the constitutional protection of freedom of opinion and expression? There is no law that states that you cannot warn someone you possess incriminating evidence against them and tell the public you intend to publish that evidence. However, according to the Law on Civil Liability for Insult and Defamation, if such allegations turn out to be incorrect, the person subject to such a statement may file a civil lawsuit for defamation. But nobody can be arrested for expressing their opinion in the media.
On the other hand, the claim of a racket or the accusation that Buzaku’s statement is a racket is problematic. This would probably be the first instance of such a crime in front of cameras – demanding a racket in front of the public.
Especially inconsistent is the involvement of IRC in political waters and the expression of political views. In the statement, it is also said that the state was “riddled with crime” and that it racketeers those “who think differently”. Boki 13, former reality TV star held in pre-trial detention over racketeering investigation, and Buzaku are the so called “representatives of state” and, of course, there are no arguments as to how are these two persons representing the state and in which capacity. Prosecutors have found no connection between the “state” and the ongoing investigation into the “Racket” case, meaning no investigation has been opened against any politician. But, even if an investigation is opened later against some politicians, that does not mean that the “state is riddled with crime”. One or two racketeering cases do not make “the state riddled with crime”. And when it comes to racketeering different-minded persons, i.e. “those who think differently”, what kind of political views does the IRC hold for which it would be racketeered from the current government? IRC is a religious organization and religion and politics are separated under the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia. Why would the IRC take political positions (with which we are not familiar) that would be different from those of the government and for which they would be racketeered? Since when does IRC have political views, meaning is getting involved in politics? Is IRC a religious organization or a political party? This is another inconsistency in the statement.
Not to mention the fact that there were tensions of this kind in IRC in April this year, when in the Single Court Register for Churches, Religious Communities and Religious Groups, Skender Buzaku was listed as the new head of the Islamic Religious Community, but after several days of arguments, Rexhepi continued managing the IRC.
It is a good thing that the IRC representatives involved the relevant institutions (the Public Prosecutor’s Office) and gave statements about, as they say, “the fraud and falsification of documents” allegedly committed by Buzaku. However, IRC could have provided the public with specific information on this alleged fraud and falsification of documentation in order to inform exactly what this is about, since it is especially important for believers and Community members. As such, this situation remains at the level of accusations with unclear content. This also applies to the claim that Buzaku repeated the offence for which he was put on probation in 2015. Again, we do not know what the repetition of the offense was and when did it happen, and also we do not know whether the competent authorities have been informed of such an event, as it would be under their competence.
Last but not least, we have Rexhepi’s statement made today (while his supporters were laughing):
- We are here today (…) for something else. We do not deal with gays. Gays should get out of the religious communities.
[Source: Телма, date: 3. October, 2019]
Such a statement obviously fueled the verbal war between Rexhepi and Buzaku. In response, Buzaku said that he was not surprised at such statements, adding “he (Rexhepi) always states this because he is an old man and he does not know what he is talking about. When he has no arguments he turns to insults”. Rehxepi’s statement is certainly offensive, but also inconsistent. The statement “gays should get out of the religious communities” can only be Rexhepi’s personal view, which is by no means true because there are religious communities that do not discriminate believers on their sexual orientation, nor in relation to other inborn or acquired features.
In any case, this verbal war between Rexhepi and Buzaku produces only insults, defamation and inconsistent statements through ungrounded accusations and counter-accusations. It is of no benefit to anyone, and in the least to believers. However, from the verbal war so far, “Truthmeter”, in line with its methodology, deems these statements inconsistent. Given the announcements about the content of Buzaku’s evidence (allegations about striptease in a hotel in Ohrid, allegations of financial crime, etc.), the low level of communication, the offensive and inconsistent statements will continue as long as this verbal war is not moved to the rightful place – before the courts.
- TV21 (1 October 2019), Бузаку со ултиматум до Реџепи, ИВЗ: Скендер Бузаку е рекетар како Боки 13, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
- Alfa (2 October 2019), Бузаку за Алфа: Кога ќе се дознае во јавноста што се правело во ИВЗ, ќе видиме кој е како Боки 13, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
- Netpres (1 October 2019), Ако Реџепи за 72 часа не се повлече од функцијата, Бузаку ќе објави „бомби“, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
- Denešen (1 October 2019), ЗАКАНА ДО РЕЏЕПИ: Имаш 72 часа да си заминеш, ако не, имаме докази од кои ќе се чуди Македонија, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
- TV21 (3 October 2019), Претседателот на ИВЗ Реџепи: Не се занимавам со гејови, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
- Telma (3 October 2019) Реисот со одговор на ултиматиумот – нема место за „гејови“ во заедницата, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
- Fokus (3 October 2019) Лајм: „Бомбите“ за Реџепи откриваат и стриптиз во охридски хотели, [Accessed on 3 October 2019]
Assessed by: Vladimir Petreski