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Wahhabi Group Launches Conversion Campaign In Bosnia

A poster in Sarajevo calls for debate on "non-Muslims converting to Islam."
A poster in Sarajevo calls for debate on "non-Muslims converting to Islam."
By Dzenana Karabegovic
SARAJEVO -- During the past week, an international Wahhabi organization has launched a campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina calling on non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

The organization, which calls itself "Poziv u Raj" (Invitation To Heaven), has been putting up slick billboards and posters and distributing leaflets in Sarajevo, Bihac, Sanski Most, Maglaj, Zenica, Travnik, Tuzla, and Tesanj.

The group also has been organizing public lectures in Bosnian cities and towns by a Greek man and a German man who recently converted to Islam.

Those recent converts have repeated the group's call for non-Muslims to convert to Islam. They have also been criticizing traditionally liberal Bosnian Muslims, claiming that many Bosniaks are not practicing true Islam.

At one recent lecture, Greek convert Efstatioss Tsionis, claimed that 60 percent of Bosniaks do not pray, 70 percent of the women do not "cover themselves," and 90 percent of Bosniaks drink alcohol.

The campaign raised concerns among non-Muslims in the overwhelmingly Muslim town of Maglaj when leaflets urging conversion to Islam were placed at the Roman Catholic church.

Local Catholics in Maglaj have complained about the leaflets to Mayor Mehmed
Some in Bosnia say the Wahhabis are importing foreign fundamentalism.
, scheduling a meeting with Mustabasic and with representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church to discuss the issue.

Members of the Wahhabi group have also personally handed leaflets to three Roman Catholic nuns in Maglaj. Such incidents have caused widespread indignation among ethnic Croats in the town -- some of whom say they feel intimidated by the group's strict Islamic rhetoric.

Imported Islamists?

A parish priest, Jakov Filipovic, tells RFE/RL's Balkan Service that the incidents have raised the awareness of Bosnian officials about the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in parts of the country.

"Maybe it is good that the media have spoken out in the sense that we are not fooling ourselves," Filipovic says. "Some people say such things are not happening here. But this will draw attention to what is really going on here. This should be resolved by [public officials] who are responsible so that such things do not happen again."

A local Serbian Orthodox priest, Dalibor Djekic, says that he found one of the Wahhabi leaflets posted on the door of his church. "This is an ugly message to me as a representative of my people and to my people," he says. "I am aware that ordinary [Bosniaks], who have lived together for centuries with Serbs and Orthodox believers in these parts of the country, are not behind this. Even they -- my acquaintances and neighbors who heard about this -- are appalled."

Mustabasic, the town's mayor, says that he knew nothing about the leaflets or the rallies.

RFE/RL has confirmed that one Islamic Community imam, Mustafa Efendi Spahic, hosted a lecture in Sanski Most during the past week by the Wahhabi group.

But Ekrem Tucakovic, a spokesman for the Islamic Community of Bosnia, denied there is any link between his organization and the Wahhabi campaign -- saying the Islamic Community learned of the lecture from local newspaper reports.

"We don't know what kind of lecture it was, who participated, or whether that imam took part in any capacity," Tucakovic says.

'Marginal Threat'

It remains unclear who is funding the organization's campaign in Bosnia or paying for the expensively printed leaflets and posters. Staff at the Wahhabi group's offices in Tuzla have refused to comment to RFE/RL about the campaign.

A professor at the Faculty of Islamic Sciences in Sarajevo, Enes Ljevakovic, considers the group to be amateurish and marginal. "I don't think this is a serious threat," Ljevakovic says. "We are talking about marginal groups. Can it eventually be something more? Nothing can be ruled out. Anything can happen."

The Wahhabi movement, a conservative school of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia some 200 years ago, has been growing in strength in Bosnia since the end of the 1992-95 war.

Hundreds of Islamic fighters who are adherents to the Wahhabi tradition, and who fought alongside Bosnian Muslim forces during the war, remained in the country -- with many marrying local women and establishing Islamic organizations.

In February, Bosnian police raided a Wahhabi community at the village of Gornja Maoca in northern Bosnia -- arresting several leaders there amid concerns that militant members of community were becoming a security threat.
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by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 02, 2010 16:04
You know what the real tragedy of the Bosnians is? By the seventies and eighties, Bosnia's Muslims were probably among the most secularised in the world and among the most assimilated in mainstream (Yugoslav) society. Nonetheless, eventually, all this did not prevented them to become the target of persecution and ethnic cleansing by the death squads and serial rapists of Mladic and Karadzic and by the neo-Ustasa of Herzeg-Bosna.

Muslims in Europe who are under increasing pressure to give up your religion, identity and assimilate: take note.

(In stark contrast to the usual cowardice of the Eurocrats and UN nomeclatura at the time, the Islamic foreign volunteers at least took serious personal risks for what they believe in).
In Response

by: Abdulmajid from: can't you guess
April 02, 2010 20:12
Exactly Turgai.
And not only that: despite teh Bosniaks being teh most liberal and Westernized Muslims around (nevertheless there are quite a few very faithful and religious Bosniaks, and even they would not dream of frocing their faith upon anybody else) the Serbofascists always defame and smear them as "fundamentalists, jihadists, al Qaida blah blah blah". If the Wahhabis enjoyed widespread support among the Bosniaks they would not have settled in such an isolated backwater as Gornja Maoca. And they would have had more weapons than a few hunting rifles. But this will not keep the serbofasciats and Muslim-haters from exploiting it for their propaganda and hatemongering.
In Response

by: nonraper from: noreg
April 03, 2010 02:33
What is "secularized muslim" ?!?
"...Islamic foreign volunteers at least took serious personal risks for what they believe in".....and what is that believe in? Thousands of hard-core nazi by the end of the II ww , specially the members of the SS units, also took a "personal risk" and fight till the end for what they belived.
Christians and all non-muslim of Europe, who are under increasing pressure to give up your freedoms, traditions and culture and surrend to the sneaking islamization, take a note!
In Response

by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 06, 2010 08:41
The difference is that the Nazis and the hardcore SS units in mid-45 were agressors and genocidals (like the Cetniks of the '90s) who got it back in their face from competing empires which, in the case of Stalin's USSR, were no better. What the Muslims in Bosnia, Gaza, ... do (or did) is self-defence and resistance.

And please don't point to the Muslim Handschar (and Kama) SS divisions in Bosnia to claim that the Muslims have alsways been fascistoid agressors and what all. Yes, the division existed. Yes it did its part of things that were wrong. No, it was not formed out of a penchant for Islam for Nazism, as some like to pretend.

It was rather a last resort. At the time that the Handschar was formed, Bosnia and Hercegovina had basically become a battleground for a (civil) war between the Ustasha, the Communists and the Cetniks (all non-Muslim) plus the Axis and Allies, with the Muslims in between and besieged from all sides. They had then no choice but to form their own vigilantes and self-defence units which were recuperated and armed by the Nazis.

by: Ivo
April 02, 2010 17:49
How are these any different from the Mormons or Jehova witnesses or the others coming from abroad to Europe fishing for souls?!
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
April 03, 2010 17:53
They should not try to fish for souls among Bosniaks! Any such missionary actions must be forbidden. Needless to say, I don't want the Mormons, Jehova's Witnesses [with their idiotic and dangerous ideas about blood transfusions] and especially Scientology [they should be outlawed in Bosnia!] to make any such proselytism among Bosniaks! If they do, they must be expelled from the country with a lifelong prohibition to return. After all I do not go to the USA to preach Islam to the folks there (even if there wasn't the risk that some idiot thinks he must avenge Sept. 11th on my person.), nor do I preach Islam to the non-Muslims here around me. And the Qur'an staes expressly: "To you your faith, and to me mine." It may say a lot about fighting Unbelievers, but only in self-defense. It says one should not associate with Unbelievers: which is not the same as trying to exterminate them. Who says the contrary is nothing but an Islamophobia propagandist!
In Response

by: Jack from: Belgrade
April 20, 2010 12:59
'It says one should not associate with Unbelievers', as opposed to 'exterminat[ing] them'. That is your defence of the Islamic faith - that it says that Muslims and non-Muslims should not associate? Unbelievable! When the defence of a religion is that is simply says members of the faith, rather than killing infidels, should not associate with them, I think one can quickly draw to the conclusion that something is deeply rotten.
How ever can we expect Islam to co-exist with other communities if this is its position?
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
April 23, 2010 18:32
Jack(@§§) from Belgrade, When the defence ot the genocide against Bosniaks is old history, as Serbs are wont to do, or that they must take revenge for something that happened a long time ago, then something is deeply rotten among Serbs. But then I knew that already.
And of course I don't want to associate with people who would kill me! You people give me the notion that when dealing with you, especially considering what you did to Bosniaks in 1992-1995, one must shoot first and ask questions later.
And Unbelievers and Infidels are for me those who hate Muslims, who want to exterminate them or expel them, or keep them under the thumb, who insult me or my faith etc, NOT non-Muslims in general. But what can one discuss with islamophobes or better said, with Muslim-haters, with the fascists of our times?
You serbofascists still dream of only one thing: to exterminate or expel all Bosniaks, save for an alibi minority of, say 1-2% because you think that if you leave a few alive you won't be accused of genocide. Wasting teh Bosniaks is your national obsession. And to that my reply is: The Cross will NEVER chase the Crescent from Bosnia!

by: Frederick from: Alexandria
April 02, 2010 22:37
while a believer in everyone's right to his or her own religion and in freedom to proselytize, it is nevertheless an ominous development when extremist outsiders would have success in converting people to extremist Islamic tendencies. It is also to be monitored whether or not intimidation is used by these proselytizers of Wahhabi-ism. I have long believed that the Muslims of Bosnia have much in common with the Jews of Israel, in that they are besieged by everyone around them. The world would profit greatly if the Muslims of Bosnia would proclaim their affinity and brotherhood with Israelis.
In Response

by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 03, 2010 09:28
Man... "brotherhood with the Israëli". You mean the same 'Israël' that supported Milosevic?

Mind you, in principle, Jews are brothers. But there can be no brotherhood with 'Israël' and its Ashkenazi supremacist establishment as long as these are what they are: a turning plate and sub-contractor for the neocon-Zionist lobby somewhere south of Canada.

This being said, what I do, well, grant, to 'Israël' is, that it will stand for its co-religionaries, manu militari if needs be, wherever and whenever they're in trouble. What a contrast with the attitude of the munafiq Arab vassal regimes during the slaughter in Gaza.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
April 11, 2010 00:22
No, no, you got it all wrong. Bosniaks are more liek the Palestinians of Europe. Their enemies what to ghettoize them. By partitioning Bosnia they wouod just get 25% of teh land; two small and isolated pockets, around Bihac and in teh triangle Mostar-Zenica-Tuzla, with Sarajevo in teh middle. Even that small "rest-Bosnia would still contain a lot of Servbs and Croats and thus they could claim that too. It would be surrounded by hostile peoples on all sides. Electricity, water, gas, heat, foodstuffs, travel outside or between these enclaves could be cut offf at will. People then would be ready to accept radical tendencies and then the Serbs and all other Islamopphobes would have a pretext to do the Bosniaks in. to fence them in. And besides that, this rest-Bosnia would be what the Islamophobes do not want, a majority Muslim "State"; they would abet genocide and ethnic cleansing to destroy it. No, The Bosniaks are like teh lestinians of Europe. Even teh derogatory term their enemies use for them "balije" sounds a lot like "Palies". So NO! to partition of Bosnia!

by: sirivanhoe98 from: Sydney, Australia
April 02, 2010 23:11
Turgai from Eurasia

It was the Bosnian Muslim leadership with Alija Izetbegovic at the help that sough to establisn in Bosnia and Islamim state and impose its regime upon the non-Muslims. He fueled the fire by not signing the LIsbon peace plan in 1992, a three way Federation, on the premise that somehow Muslims would get a better deal, meaning a single Islamic state.

It was the Muslims who began the imbroglio, the first incident was the execution of a Serbian couple on their wedding day in broad daylight in Sarajevo. For every action there is a reaction.

Izetbegovic took Bosnian Muslims on a mission that was doomed to failure. It was naive to think he could impose his will if a Islamic state on 2 million Serbs and Croats. Many Serbs left Bosnia because they did not want to live in a Muslim state. Those who remained decided to defend their rights to self determination.

Before Serbs overran Srebrenica Nasir Oric and his henchmen murdered around 3,000 Serbs in the surrounding villages. Serbs sent three reports to the UNited Nations complaining against Muslim actions in the region. They landed on deaf ears.

In Response

by: kham from: USA
April 03, 2010 17:21
sirivanhoe 98:
Your tchetnik views are so far from the truth that you seriously have to educate yourself on this issue. It was France and UK that bought that tchetnik propaganda about so-called Islamic state. 95% of Bosnian Muslims DO NOT want nor do they approve of an Islamic state. Those who want something like that can go to Iran. Bosnian Muslims merely want their properties back, and to see perpetrators of heinous crimes committed in the name of the GREATER SERBIA on innocent women and children punished for their crimes.

by: J from: US
April 03, 2010 02:34
Retrospectively, Bosnia seceding from Yugoslavia was a good idea in the end.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
April 03, 2010 18:01
Of course it was.

by: jolyon curran from: santa barbara, ca
April 03, 2010 08:34
Education tends to lead to secularization. This may be sad for Turgai, however Islam is a very personal religion and should not be hawked about by 'Islamic foreign volunteers' the way Mormons, Hari-Krishners and Witnesses do.
'Cowardice' by European and UN workers is incorrect. These people work carefully to make sure that a code of neutrality is practiced. Recent pronouncements by the Muslim leader of Libya about the division of Nigeria mean that a lot of damage control has to be carried out.
Sadly if the secular world did not exist, Muslims would have little voice, unhappily most of their countries are brutally suppressive.
Do I remember a biblical quote about a splinter in the eye?
In Response

by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 03, 2010 09:19
"Education tends to lead to secularization".

This is a popular myth (and a dogma where ironically Marxists and neo-liberals find common ground) but let me tell you that it's wrong. Look around. Paradoxical as it seems, the expansion of media, urbanisation, access to edcuation etc... along with the failure of communism, nationalism and neo-liberal capitalism, have *expanded*, not contracted, the space for Faith. Many active Muslims are educated, have IT, medical and other professional backgrounds etc... Look at the social profile of the cadres of a movement like Hizb Ut Tahrir, for instance. Educated believers also tend to see the sleazy and catastropic outcome of secularism better.
In Response

by: eli from: beijing
April 03, 2010 09:55
The idea that education leads to secularization is fairly obvious, it's just that it's not an even, one way path. Unfortunately, mankind often retreats into the security of traditional superstition in times of great change.

The Islamic revival happening now in the Muslim world is similar to what happened in the Christian world in the 19th century. People under pressure from the strains of rapid industrialization and globalization clutch at religion when the world becomes confusing. But Christianity is too fragmented and doesn't have the reactionary fantasy of a caliphate uniting all believers in a fairy kingdom of love and happy times for all to go as global as the Islamists.

Turgai, if you really believe that non-religious idealisms have failed, what in the world makes you think religion can do better? By its demands to place faith ahead of intelligent thought and scientific rationality? How does that not turn into fundamentalism, which is then exploited by the same old strongmen, like in Iran or Saudi Arabia? Please do tell what you're claiming is so new about what you're pushing.
In Response

by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 05, 2010 07:42
"Turgai, if you really believe that non-religious idealisms have failed, what in the world makes you think religion can do better? "

Good and very relevant question.

1) If Islam and the concept of Khilafah had no added value or potential at all for at least parts of humanity and the Muslim Ummah in particular, would there be such anti-Islamic fear and hate-mongering and campaigings that save no effort or expense to contain and destroy Islam and Muslims? Probably not. But the truth is, that the Islambashers somehow realise that their own societies and ideologies are in full decline. That explains their rabiate reaction.

2) If you look back at history, one thing that becomes clear is, that the trouble for the Muslim Ummah started for real once Muslim lands were carved up in national states, became theatres for kafir great power jockeying and became laboratories for imported ideologies. I do not say that all was rosy and brilliant before. But the *real* trouble and decline started then.

3) Islam is transnational, non-racialist and meritocratic by nature. As such, it is much more adapted to the fledling multi-polar and chaotic world order than the secular ideologies who are merely based on an illusion of moral superiority. As for neo-liberal capitalism: we've once again seen the brilliant result since 2008.

4) We know that it's a popular secularist mantra to say that Islam (or religion in general), science and technology can not match. Well, it's wrong. If you're interested to know more:

http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/the-khilafah/economy/6557-islam-and-industrial-development

http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/the-khilafah/education/5460-islam-science-and-civilisation

Science and technology without conscience, serving only primal materialist purposes, inevitably lead to Kolyma, Auschwitz, as well as to the complete and orchestrated social unraveling that we see in many societies today.

That the Catholic and Protestant churches in Europe tried to keep control over the peasants who migrated to the cities curing the nineteenth century is correct. In this, they entered a space where other ideologies tried to do the same: the socialist workers' movement (which, at least in its early phase, had good achievements), and nationalism. The latter, which often co-opted national Christian churches, ideologically fed and legitimised great power competition that eventually culminated in the colonial scramble and World War 1 (as well as its offshoot, World War 2).

Today's global scene is somwhat different: nationalism and socialism are dead or hopelessly compromised and the fledling multi-polar world also contains economic and power centres that were once part of the colonised. Several of the non-Muslim power centres will eventually collide with each other or even destroy each other because it is in their rapacious nature to do so. God willing, this will create a space for (a core of) Khilafah.
In Response

by: eli from: with schrodinger's cat
April 06, 2010 16:10
Turgai, I disagree fundamentally with so may things, but I'll just say this:

"1) If Islam and the concept of Khilafah had no added value or potential at all for at least parts of humanity and the Muslim Ummah in particular, would there be such anti-Islamic fear and hate-mongering and campaigings that save no effort or expense to contain and destroy Islam and Muslims? Probably not. But the truth is, that the Islambashers somehow realise that their own societies and ideologies are in full decline. That explains their rabiate reaction."

This is at best wishful thinking, at worst the sort rabid self-righteousness that leads to the great tragedies of humanity, the terrors, purges, genocides, and wars that kill millions. Because people are Islamophobic, so it must be good, because they are bad? That's just silly.

Really, you're just echoing the various radicals of the 1930s, if nothing else. "Democracy has failed, we know the truth!" It's no different than all such systems based on faith, doomed to be exploited by the evil people who will always be the truest believers, the Stalins, Hitlers, Khomeinis, and Maos of the world. Democracy is the only way to contain them, because the constant ugly deal-making of pluralism is the best way to struggle along together and balance opposing views. Whenever someone says they know the one true path, you can be sure they are lying.
In Response

by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 07, 2010 12:11
"Whenever someone says they know the one true path, you can be sure they are lying. "

Which obviously applies to the Westernizers, I suppose? No?
In Response

by: eli from: here
April 07, 2010 23:16
The Westernizers claimed to speak "the one truth"? Not likely. I'm talking about religious fanatics. They are always charlatans, like all fundamentaists or super patriots. Anyone who says their truth cannot be questioned is just afraid of the questioning.

by: Gorka from: Barakaldo
April 03, 2010 21:13
Well, it probably will end like Afganistan. First USA (the CIA, the State Department and most of anglosaxon media) support islamist to fight against they think are american enemies. Then the islamism grow up in the area. And in the end attack americans, their former allies. The point of view of America against small Serbia during last decades was biased and unfair. If only americans could learn from their mistakes...

by: Johann from: USA
April 03, 2010 21:18
When will they start this activity in USA ?
They have alredy establihed some charter schools, that are supported by the ordinary taxpayer. That violates the American constution !
The number of Somalian schools in Minneapolis is growing.
Who is to blame ?

by: Johann from: USA
April 03, 2010 21:25
Turgai ! What do you mean when you talk about Neocon-Zionist lobby ?

by: Priyadarsi from: New Delhi
April 04, 2010 03:57
The tendency to gravitate towards 'radicalism' is natural towards Muslims, like water's inclination to fall downwards, or a hydrogen ballon to go up in air. It is only a matter of time. What happened to Shah's Persia, to Mujibar Rehaman's Bangladesh? What is happening to Algeria, Turkey, Kashmir, Malaysia, Indonesia. Allah's soldiers are silently at work. The Muslims of Balkans (Bosniaks included) are a legacy of the Ottoman Empire that spread its wings in the region in 14th century. They are Christians coverted to Islam. Had Christianity been powerful enough it would have re-assimilated them into original faith. Else it is but natural that Islam would stage resugence. Remember Bosnia was the nursery of Al Qaeda during the Balkan Wars 1990-92. The argument that Bosnian Muslims were most secularised is fallacious. They joined the brigade of Haji Al-Amin (Mufti of Jerusalem, and uncle of Yasir Arafat) meant to kill the Christian Serb and Croats during World War II.
In Response

by: katie from: united states
April 06, 2010 00:38
Where do you get this false information from?? Breeding ground for Al Qaeda? Are you just ignorant or simply trying to spread lies?

Not that I think it was a good thing but many Bosniaks were paid to enlist on the US Army side to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq...and by your philosphy that would make them anti Al Qaeda.. But I caN understand you would have such racist views as you are Indian.
In Response

by: marko
April 15, 2010 23:24
"But I can understand you would have such racist views as you are Indian." Katie you just exposed yourself as being racist. Living in the USA, you have no idea about Muslims and Islamization. According to Islam, we are infidels b/c we are not muslim. Infidels have 2 options: 1) convert to islam 2) be killed. enough said. War in Bosnia and Kosovo was extremely biased and failed to tell us about what was really happening. I'm probably gonna be labelled a Chetnik. Its ok though, I don't really know what a Chetnik is that well. I just want to help get the truth out
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
April 16, 2010 18:42
Marko is nothing but an Islamophobe, or better an anti-Muslim. All this blah blah blah about the "islamization of the world" is nothing but evil, loony childish patter by ignoramuses (this guy even admitted he doesbn't know what a chetnik is. Let me explain it to you: a chetnik is a serbofascist Muslim-hater who enjoys killing Muslims and raping their women, as young as 11!) and were it not that it has caused all kinds of hate crimes it could be dismissed just as that. But beware: if any hate crime against Muslims can be traced back to any of them as their intellectual and moral author then it is all right tzo silence those voices of hatred, of the new fascism of our days that is giventhe euphemism of Islamophobia! But they are as fascist, bigoted and racist as the fascists of the 1930s, and nobody should think that fascism then was limited only to Germany! And anyone with such destructive ideas as those loony antifascists sghould be silenced! Islamophobia is not "freedom of expression" it is not "criticism of Islam" it is FASCIST HATE SPEECH, plain and simple!
In Response

by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 06, 2010 08:57
"The tendency to gravitate towards 'radicalism' is natural towards Muslims"

Aha, and where would you situate Hindutva a.k.a. Brahmin fascism and the ethnic cleansing conducted against Muslims, Dalits and Christians by the Hindu death squads of Bal Thakeray and Narendra Modi?
In Response

by: eli from: nirvana
April 07, 2010 23:19
I would place them next to all the other liars and religious zealots. "Oh no, our beliefs are true, theirs are wrong!" All liars.
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