Besa: A Reader Responds…

14 Apr

Besa: A Code of Honor  (November 20th)

“Niko I have long wanted to leave a comment about this post. I believe that what the Albanaians did for the Jews in sheltering them from the Nazis was courageous, noble and just. And besa is at its roots a tribal, and to a lesser extent, islamic code of honor. You mention Afghanistan-there is in Pashtunistan what is known as the Pashtun code Pakhtunwali which also purports to protect an accepted guest. Pakhtunwali is also tribal and islamic. Was it not this same code that protected Osama Bin Laden after his escape from Tora Bora? Is that same code rightly honored in one instance and rightly deplorable in another? Just a thought…”

NB: It is the same code Rafa.  No, I personally, at least, do not think it’s deplorable in one case and not the other. Honor is absolute, absolute by definition.  For me, the word itself means”no-exceptions”; otherwise it’s not honor. Whether we like its consequences or nor or whether it gets “honored” more in the breach or not is another question.  Those Pashtuns didn’t have a choice.  And you know who to talk to that’s most likely to agree: the American servicemen that were up there.


The Проклетије (Prokletije) or Accursed Mountains, that separate — or more likely unite — northern Albania, Montenegro and Serbia.  (Click, for sure; it’s a huge file and it’s gorgeous)


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