My name is Arbana Xharra, I am a 35 year-old-journalist from Kosovo.
I have been a journalist almost my entire adult life. I started work as a journalist in 2001, just after the war in Kosovo. I have written about the most sensitive issues concerning Kosovo’s transition. The first ten years of my career I investigated corruption and organized crime. I worked for Kosovo’s largest, Koha Ditore2001–2009. I became Editor-in-Chief of Zeri, Kosovo’s second-largest newspaper where I worked until this year/ May 2017
In 2012, I began investigating a new phenomenon in Kosovo and the Western Balkans – religious radicalism. That same year, I finalized my first report on the topic by investigating religious radicalism in Kosovo, Macedonia, and England. I uncovered a network of radical imams and their financing streams from Middle Eastern countries.
I was branded an “Islamophobe”. Critics threatened my public Due to severity of these threats, I was forced to change my children’s school several times.
Public letters personally me and calling for my arrest were sent by the Turkish Ambassador in Pristina. Pressure increased after Zeri published on Recep Erdogan’s investments in Kosovo and Macedonia.
After almost two decades in journalism, I recently joined Kosovo’s Democratic Party. A frenzy of insults ensued as well as orchestrated smear campaigns. These verbal attacks culminated in the physical attack. In May 13, I was brutally attacked by extremists who used violence to try and silence my reporting on religious radicalization. I was beaten up in the garage of my apartment building in Pristina, Kosovo. The attack came shortly after a cross was painted in a blood-red outside my apartment door. My husband and children’s lives have also been threatened.
As a result, I was placed in intensive care at the hospital and provided medical assistance for several weeks.
CV and short biography
Arbana Xharra is an Albanian investigative journalist from Kosovo born in 10/29/81. Arbana Xharra has been working as a journalist since 2001. She worked for Koha Ditore, the first independent newspaper established in Kosovo, in 2006 and 2007. She has been a contributor to Balkan Insight and is currently editor-in-chief of Zëri
She has written about a wide range of issues including a 2006 investigation on government expense reports and financial mismanagement a 2007 examination of inflation and food shortages; a report in 2010 questioning how the assets of the state-run by the Turks; and relationships between businesses and politics. Xharra faced legal action in 2012 when a report she prepared on government corruption linked a local business with politicians. She was exonerated by the court, whose ruling stated that she had complied with the Code of Ethics for print media of Kosovo.
Over an 18-month period beginning in 2012, Xharra investigated the rise in religious activity since the collapse of socialism in the former Yugoslavia. She reported on religious extremism and its impact on society. By evaluating Islamic extremists operating in Kosovo, she discovered links with terrorist organizations. Uncovering operational and financial links, Xharra was able to assist the government in efforts to address the problem, but the reports caused her to receive death threats and public attacks on her reputation She reported them to the police, but with no consequences. She worked on a few international reports regarding corruption, and interfaith dialog. She was focused in spreading in radical Islamic ideology in Balkan.
On 9th of May 2017, she resigned in Zëri and became the member of the PDK – the biggest political party in Kosovo. A couple of days after she joined politics she was brutally attacked
Awards and recognition
Xharra was three-time winner of the UNDP Prize for her articles on corruption in Kosovo in 2006, 2007, and 2008. In 2012 she was awarded a Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence and studied the changing attitudes towards Islam in Kosovo. In 2013 she was awarded the Rexhai Surroi Award by the KOHA Group for an article on extremism and the Stirring Up Debate Award from INPO Ferizaj (Progress Initiative) for creating public discourse on religious extremism. In 2015 she won the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award for the European division.
Xharra joined private collage after the war in Kosova in 2000/2004 the first journalism school “Faik Konica
2007 She attended journalism program in Missouri Journalism Faculty
2009-2012 She received a master degree in academic writing in Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Comunication
Investigations in English
I have a lot of stories but mostly in Albanian language. But I will attach the links of two main investigations that were published in English and covered by a lot of international media.
01, Fissures, Was my first investigation on radicalization that took me 8 months to investigate. The story was researched in Kosovo, Macedonia and England
02 The second one was the first story done in Kosovo for women that joined Islamic State. I did deep investigation for six months, and a lot of reactions came after the story was published
July 2010 I was followed by car while I was going at my parents’ house in a different city. Police arrested the guy but I never found out what happened to that person
February 2012 I was indicted by a business man that supported political parties After my investigation on how he received millions of euros valued tenders. Reporters Without Borders reacted in support of me. I won the case presenting all the facts that I relied during my investigaton
Death threats started since late 2012 when I published my first investigation on radical islamist’s in Kosovo. I reported hundreds of threats at the Kosovo Police.
2017 – This year happened the most terrified threats against me. I will attach photos and links of the reports on my case
In late march March of 2017 someone draw red cross next to my apartment and at my parking garage
A few weeks befoe I received a thread for my children form islamist through facebook. They send it me a photo of a killed person, saying that “ they know how much I love my children and that they will found me”.
In May 13 I received physical threat, while I was at my parking garage two person attacked me.