Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Bosnia

Radical Islamists Seek To Exploit Frustration In Bosnia

Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the central Gazi-Husref Bey Mosque in Sarajevo in October 2012.
Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the central Gazi-Husref Bey Mosque in Sarajevo in October 2012.
By Robert Coalson and Maja Nikolic
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Nearly 20 years after the guns fell silent in Bosnia-Herzegovnia, a growing number of the country's Muslims have become frustrated with the democratic path their country has taken.

And that frustration is being exploited by Islamists.

Unlike ethnic Croats and Serbs in Bosnia, Muslim Bosniaks receive no economic, political, or moral support from neighboring countries.

Many Bosniaks feel alone in their effort to forge and maintain their own identity and political institutions. And increasingly, the argument that Shari'a law -- and not democracy -- is the answer for Bosnia is getting a broader hearing.

"Unlike secularism and democracy, we say there is only one truth -- law of Allah and Shari'a," Nusret Imamovic, the leader of Bosnia’s radical Wahhabi community, told a standing-room-only crowd of some 500 people -- almost all of them young Muslim men -- at a posh hotel in the city of Tuzla earlier this week. "And it wants the people to accept that truth and surrender to that truth. Does Allah have right to request that? Well, He is the holder and the owner of everything."

Not About Religion

The event -- "The Advantage Shari'a And The Failure Of Democracy" -- was billed as a "summit." Although no resolutions or statements were adopted, the well-attended and highly visible meeting was a troubling sign for some in Tuzla, which has generally been known for its moderation and tolerance. Residents are proud that the city's Serbian Orthodox church was unscathed during the war.

But surprisingly, only about 30 people gathered outside the hotel to protest the meeting.

"My point of view is that democracy died in Germany [in the 1930s] when they allowed the extremists to rule. And this is pure extremism," one young protester told RFE/RL's Balkan Service. "This has nothing to do with Islam or religion."

Bosnia is one of the poorest countries in Europe. It is still contending with deep ethnic and religious divisions left over from the disastrous war of the 1990s. It inherited a fragile, often unworkable government structure from the war-ending 1995 Dayton accords.

"This country has for 20 years been in a state of institutionalized temporariness and temporary solutions," Vlado Azinovic, a Sarajevo-based security expert and former RFE/RL journalist who has written a book on whether Al-Qaeda has a presence in Bosnia, says. "And as long as it stays like that, as long as we are facing a deep political and moral crisis of all values in society, it will remain a fertile ground for the spread of various radical ideologies, among which [radical Islam] has stood out recently."

At the event in Tuzla, Imamovic was joined on the podium by Bilal Bosnic, an equally uncompromising Islamist and critic of democracy.

"In a democracy, one only has the right to say, 'Yes, I agree' -- the right to approve of whatever is served up to you," said Bosnic. "But, you know, a human being should not bow his head before anybody but the creator -- our Allah."

Both Imamovic and Bosnic were educated in the Middle East.

Gaining A Foothold?

Mevlid Jasarevic, who is serving an 18-year prison term for firing shots at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in October 2011, spent the months before the attack in Imamovic's Islamist community of Gornja Maoca in northeastern Bosnia.

Just a few years ago, their kind of radicalism was truly a fringe phenomenon with little traction among Bosnia's Muslims. The official Islamic Community was headed by respected moderate Mustafa Ceric until he stepped down in the summer of 2012.

While the loss of Ceric's prestige has weakened the Islamic Community's authority, some analysts argue that his advocacy of Bosniak nationalism and his criticism of the post-Dayton system in Bosnia also created a potential foothold for more extremist views.

This week the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a long report calling Islamism and nationalism in Bosnia a "dangerous tango." While the ICG report stresses that Wahhabist movements in Bosnia are small and fragmented, it adds that the environment in the country is conducive to their growth.

The ICG report notes, for example, that the mandate and the budget of the municipal government in Mostar have expired. But the city, which is divided between Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats, was unable to hold elections as expected in 2012. If the stalemate is not broken soon, public services may grind to a halt, providing a vivid demonstration of the kind of "failure" of democracy that the Tuzla Wahhabists were exploiting.

'Vulnerable Society'

For now, however, experts are divided on the urgency of the threat posed by Bosnian Islamists. Bosnian sociologist Srdjan Vukadinovic says Wahhabism is a "retrograde movement" that has no historical record of achieving anything "good or progressive." He argues Bosniaks have already rejected this path.

Vehid Sehic, of the NGO Forum of Tuzla, is not so sanguine, saying that the country has been dragged down by the siren song of intolerance in the past.

"In the 1990s, when ideas emerged urging intolerant behavior toward others, we said, 'They are fools; it's nothing,'" Sehic says. "However, they quickly moved from graffiti and pens to a situation in which hundreds of thousands became victims. So I am not among those who look at these current messages in an uncritical way, because in the present vulnerable Bosnian society they are very dangerous."

Written in Prague by RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson on the basis of reporting from Tuzla by RFE/RL Balkan Service correspondent Maja Nikolic and other Balkan Service correspondents

Robert Coalson

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack from: US
March 01, 2013 14:23
NATO minions will be forever grateful to benevolent US government who helped Muslims to kill or expell Christians from Bosnia and Kosovo and bestowed Muslim paradise upon neighboring NATO minions. But who said they did not deserve it?

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
March 01, 2013 15:19
Yes,Allah is truly great and he holds everything ,but what the Bosniak moderate wahabies need is dough from neighboring countries.So far the EU has given the new-fangled state some 5 billion euros .but thats not enough for the moderate doves-Source:Euronews which is partly muslim moderate-turkish owned.We all think the good old wahabis should crown Mad Elaine as their All bright Lady of the skies as well as the earth and bowing to an icon of her schiksa majesty will solve all their material problems.If not ,a coupla NATO extra bombings will do the trick!!! Allah akbar!!!
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
March 02, 2013 13:41
Heh heh heh, maybe exactly that will happen and then those who tried to do in the Bosniaks will have to go through what Germany had to in 1918 and 1945 and then, like Germany they will finally stop bullying their neighbors around.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 03, 2013 10:10
First of all, Abdulmajid, who told you Germany "stopped bullying its neighbours"? Look at what is happening in Greece or in Spain, and even look at the recent Italian election and the way in which German politicians (such as Peer Steinbrück) interefered into it and you will see that the only thing they changed are WAYS in which the Germans bully their neighbours.
Another thing is that you - when expressing your hopes of someone stopping to "bully" you - completely foget that BiH never had and never will have a chance of being a functional state due to the simple fact that the Serbs and the Croats SIMPLY DO NOT WANT to be a part of this failed state. The only way in which the guys like you could force them into partial submission is by the raw military force of your bosses from Washington D.C.
And right now those bosses are going bankrupt and VERY SOON the time of BiH will be up: the Serbs and the Croats will finally have a chance of realizing their right for self-determination, whereas you will have a chance of establishing a new Saudi Arabia on the rump piece of land that you might manage to hold...
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 04, 2013 11:56
Eugenio, you are not quite bright, are you? The time of Bosnia-Herzegovina is not up by far, and that of the Americans is neither. Do not commit the same mistake as those who underestimated the Americans in the past. They paid a high and bloody price for it. So, seeing in what tradition it stands, rather I would say the time of Greater Serb chauvinism is up. And another thing: better to live under America with hunger than under Russia and China with blood!
And as for those who want to destroy Bosnia-Herzegovina they have simply forfeited all their rights there. They have no rights there whatsoever. Not a single one. They can go to Serbia and Croatia if tehy soooo like being only among their own. Let's see how well they are received there. And those who are already there need not bother come back. And compared with what the Serbofascists and Ustase did to the Bosniaks - rape and mass murder - this is very generous I think, because these serbofascists and ustase do, in my view, not deserve to walk this Earth. Only those Bosnian Serbs and Crotas who love and cherish Bosnia-Herzegovina, and who stand by their Bosniak friends, do have a right to live there. And that's that. Besides that, since you lot are so fearful of Bosniaks and of Muslism in general I doubt that you would let them "a piece of land tehy can manage to hold". You tried to destroy them last time, so why should we believe you'd let some of us live this time. No, my friend, as for us and people like you: "neither can live as long as the other survives."
And another thing I want to tell you: are you willing to put yor life on the line for your Greater Serb and Russian friends? Are you? Since you prefer to live in the plush comfort of the West in Viennna rather than, say, in Belgrade or Moscow, or Banja Luka, as would be consequent and befitting, I must assume you are not. So stop the big talk here, and when the time comes for you lot to try and destroy Bosnia and the Bosniaks, we shall see if your guts match your nerve; it goes without saying I very much doubt it.
But I am willing to go to the ultimate consequences if I must.

by: Abdulmajid
March 02, 2013 13:39
If the Bosniaks are treated as the Palestinians of Europe and ghettoized in a Balkan Gaza Strip, as the anti-Muslim and Bosniakophobic Greater Serb and Greater Croat chauvinists want, then of course, like in the Gaza Strip eventually Hamas will take over. Then the enemies of the Bosniaks people will have a pretext to do them in, and they think the West will approve of their committing genocide. It is just as well the Serb army now no longer has the clout it did in 1992. Nevertheless teh Bosniaks must be ready to defend tehmselves. This si not about Islamic fundamentalism but a question of life or death. In any case eth Bosniaks will be absolute majority in Bosnia in maybe 10-20 years and tehn their ene ies will no longer be able to boss them around or to walk all over them. The Cross will never chase the Crescent out of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I do not stand for genocide. However teh Serbs were able to get away with it last time and get all they had gained through violence. If next time around the tables are reversed I will not be too unhappy about it. And why? Because it is through their continued inaction and blunders and through abandoning the Bosniaks to their enemies that the West has made possible the establishment of radical Islamism in Bosna. Maybe they did it on purpose. As a self-fulfilling prophecy. To get rid of "an islamist enclave in Christian Europe". But if they think that then the Serbs will do the dirty work for them they got another think coming. It will not be 1992-95 all over again. Certainly not. Try as they might. Now some Palestinian guy said that those New Jersey guys who thought mobbing or killing Palestinisns was a joke, he wished them to get a rocket in their face and that he didn't care about whom he offended by saying this - I will not say the same thing here but in this context he spoke my feelings. Not my feelings about the Serbs as such or about all the Serbs but there are certainly such that richly deserve it.
And the Bosniaks must stand together aginst their enemies not only from the outside but from within. An Arab proverb says "Nothing good ever came out of the Najd (the place where Wahhabism originated)". Many Tunisisns and Egyptians and most Libyans rehect Islamism. So do most Bosniaks. They must not let the Islamists take over but first and foremost they must not let their non-Muslim enemies walk all over them again. And I know full well who my enemies are. They have declared their enmity towards me and my brethren unequivocally more than often enough. I see no reason why I should accommodate them.
In Response

by: Samir from: Zenica, Bosnia and Herzeg
March 03, 2013 10:51
Dear Abdulmajid, you are fully right. I want to add, that Bosniaks are unique SouthEast European people, with unique European culture that fosters European and Oriental forms. Just because of that Bosniaks never and never can become part of radical Wahhabism movement. I do not say there is no, but all of you must know that even they are established their communities here in Bosnia it just because of war consequences and religious illiteracy because of Communism influence more than 50 years. But despite all of this I mentioned Bosniaks remained faithful to Islam as religion in its source form. Because of this I do not agree with many that there is European Islam and Islam form Orient. No, there is only one Islam and own experience of Islam unique as well as Bosniaks are. So, I agree with Mr AbdulMajid and with Mr Srdjan Vukadinovic, Bosniaks rejected this path may years ago. This does not mean there are no members of Wahhabism in Bosnia but we must treat them as well as any extreme group in any country that do not want tolerate diversity in local community as well as Bosniaks do. So, every time you want to write some on this topic please explore history of Bosnia and Herzegovina more and more history of Bosniaks as well as unique European people and than write some. Thank you.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
March 04, 2013 11:34
Yes, thank you very much. One can never learn enough about it. And contrary to trother foreigners I am not pursuing any agenda of my own in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Only that it is not torn apart, and that those who love and cherish it are not dispersed to all ends of the world and liquidated. And I reject the idea of theGreater serb chauvinbist and anti-American fools that "Bosniaks can build tehir saudi Arabia on whatever poeice of land they can get hold of:" First, the enemies would not let them any, and it would be a Balkan gaza Strip. Thst is unacceptable, for then all those who gave their lives to and who were murdered for bosnia-herzegovina would have died in vain, and genocide would be allowed to triumph.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
March 03, 2013 13:44
So great Aptalmujik has come out of its moonshine induced slumber to comment on the infidels`posts and prove once again who is bigger and better than Jack,Eugenio,Vakhtang,Dimpetreaus M.and Andrew from Auckland combined!!! You are bloody right as always ,my BS BW friend except in yer attitude towards the Krauts-you must have shown some sympathy towards Nazi Germany as it was Chief arab ally in the fight against them zionists!!! Otherwise we all declare our support to you and your way of seeing things and we all would like to see you as the Grand Vizier and also Eunuch and why not?-a Sultan also of future Great Turanistan and that will be the Greatest 3-in-one this or any other worlds have ever seen.All we have to do now is to steal da American space shuttle arm it with a coupla A and N bombs and start the crescent crusade.and I suggest we leave the child bride harem for a little while and we do just that and then we`ll turn the whole wide world into one big Turkish bath and show everybody we`re the biggest and best hanky-panky bunga-bunga allahtans!!! Abtalmujahid akbar,and who stole me pork and liquor and burkha while I was writing this post,you bloody ungrateful zionists!!!
In Response

by: Jack from: US
March 03, 2013 18:35
but who said NATO minions like Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece do not deserve what they got from our Big Brother, the most illustrious of all, the US government? You would think they could manage their own little tin cans on their own?
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
March 04, 2013 11:39
If you can't put out nothing but incoherent gibberish instead of saying something constructive or right for a change you should better refrain from writing. It is one thing to keep silent and be thought a fool (which you define as "Moonshine induced slumber") and another thing to write something (as you did) and confirm it (which you have once again done quite unequivocally). And that's my final word to you. Don't bother writing back.

by: Vanja Filipović from: Sarajevo, BiH
March 05, 2013 13:46
The story of the supposed rising Islamist movement in Bosnia is an old one. It's a story stretched between those who see no problems with this phenomenon, and those who make it out to be much larger than it actually is. This article belongs to the latter group. The Salafist movement in Bosnia is a completely marginalized movement. It is not only in a direct confrontation with a much larger secular community, it is also in a direct confrontation with the official Islamic Community. Although relatively small, the Salafist movement is a vocal one - they have websites, Facebook pages, public gatherings (such as this one in Tuzla), etc. However, their pulling power is limited mainly on either uneducated, or troubled young people. The strict Salafist regime offers many of them a completely structured way of life, focused on fulfilling many religious duties (ibadets), all the while giving them a larger purpose in life - serving Allah. The purpose of Imamovic and Bosnic is to grow this community - by conversion (of moderate Muslims and non-Muslims) and demographically (high birth rates of community's members). In a short/mid term, their movement will remain relatively small and not at all influential. Despite many socio-economic problems, the vast majority of Bosnia's Muslims reject fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. They see the current political stalemate as not a failure of democracy, but as a remnant of the 1992-1995 war and an unfinished peace and reintegration process. Their hopes lie completely in making Bosnia a functioning democracy and a member of EU and NATO. As for the Salafists, they will remain active, as they see their mission as a religious duty. The worst thing the media can do is give them an undeserved spotlight and, thus, raise their stature.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
March 05, 2013 22:16
Yes, they have to build up the "Islamist menace" to have a pretext to do the Bosniaks in. So it does not matter if the Islamist movement in Bosnia is small and marginalized or not, they will always use it as a pretext.
I agree with you that there is no immediate danger of them taking over, but like all extremists they must be closely watched. Luckily they do not seem to be so smart to offer social services to hte people where they find the state wanting, as Hamas is doing.
And of course the present political mess in Bosnia-Herzegovina is not due to a failure of democracy but to the botched armistice of Dayton.
However, for me this is not about Bosnia "becoming an Islamist bridgehead in and directed against Christian Europe" as the enemies of Bosnia always babble. It is a question of life and death for Bosdina and the Bosniak people.