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The Short Tale of a Bosnian

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The capture of the butcher of Sarajevo, Radovan Karadzic, alhamdulilah, a few days ago was a welcome news not just for Bosnians, but for all Muslims. To the Bosnian Muslims in the blogosphere that I know of (Samaha and Hamdy), mabrook. May Allah give this butcher all what he deserves, and may Allah preserve the Muslims of Bosnia (guiding those who are astray) upon His path and safe from their enemies.

More than a decade ago, when the Bosnian genocide was ongoing at its apex, I penned a short story, a sort of historical fiction. The capture of Karadzic gave me an opportunity to dig it out of my creative briefcase, scan it, and present it to all. Please note that this is really, really old work, and I hope it serves as a reminder and snippet of the brutality that filled the lands of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Please excuse me for any inaccuracy… imagination can take some leaps of faith at times. Though no one can deny that it was probably much worse than anyone can capture in words:

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bosnia-genocide.jpgThe stars and the moon were in their hideout- the night was very dark indeed. A grim sense of fear lurked around every soul that dared to walk upon the desolated street.

He stepped out of his devastated house onto the rubble that welcomed him— the rubble that once was an attractively adorned street. A chilled, hideous wind greeted his snow—white face. He knew it, everyone did— no mortal being was safe on this hell on earth. He screwed his dark muffler over his naked ears and started to walk briskly.

The cruel silence of the darkness was brutally shattered by the familiar sound of gun shots and then a dying scream.Now him, next me- he contemplated. But this thought had long ceased to disturb him, let alone scare him. The plain truth was that there was no escape, no optimism; the future was as dead as the land beneath the remains of the shoes he was wearing. He knew one thing though— the land could become alive if there was rain. But then again, there was no rain in sight. Clouds had long forgotten the way to this forbidden land. Tears streamed out of his jaded eyes. They surprised him- he was quite sure that they too had deserted him. He wiped them off with his scarred hands.

Almost suddenly, pictures of the pre-war period flashed in front of his damp eyes:

The streets lights flashing, couples and families, hand in hand, strolling around the glittering shops with their decorated showrooms. There was no fear, a hand shake here and there, a hug, a smile, a petty argument… it was beautiful.

He smiled, then laughed and finally cried. Maybe he couldn’t recognize emotion any more, it all seemed the same now. He did recognize though that his life was a hapless journey; a trip through hell into the grapples of death and probably as futile as the dried leaf that falls down and never gets up.

The damned wind seemed to get cooler every minute. Or maybe his tattered clothes had given up on him. After all, the world had given up on his homeland. After all, the world had been reduced to being mere spectators to yet another genocide. After all, they had other more important things to deal with. After all, after all…

The man dragged on. He stumbled over dead flesh. Part of a cat lay spluttered in front of him. “Those beasts, ba**rds didn’t even leave the cat alive,” he mumbled. Of course they didn’t; cats were just animals but humans. He changed his mind…we are animals too. He kicked away the intruding creature with a loud thud. No, he wasn’t always so insensitive. He had just grown out it. In fact, he had grown out of many other feelings, too, like love for instance. They were just old traditions that everybody had to grow out of. Honestly, most already had.

Lost in paradoxical thoughts, he came across a dried up well, a preserved ‘antiquity’. He remembered how people had crowded around it, throwing away their coins, wishing for so many things. How stupid, he thought. If only they had known better, they’d spend their money elsewhere. If only it wasn’t a wishing well, if only it had some fortune in it, like oil perhaps…The thought amused him but he didn‘t smile. It just seemed so honest, so really true. He buried his eyes in his hands and went back…

It was eight in the evening and he had just come back home after a hard, laborious day. Not that he was the only one who worked hard. Back then everybody did but at least everyone was allowed to live. His wife had just cooked the daily rice and beans. Life was difficult and ends barely met. Suddenly, his daughter barged into the room and instinctively he realized how beautiful she had become- his little girl had flowered into a beautiful woman. He held her close and wept. I

t was a hard life, if only he could give his daughter more… His son followed in next and they came together for a big bear hug. This had become a daily ritual, a sort of family endearment and how sure he was that his strength lay in this. They sat down for food and gobbled down their inadequate daily rations but they were happy to be alive, to be together. No one complained and this hurt him more. Sometimes, he wished that they would argue, that they would be angry, but like his other wishes; these too vanished into thin air.

He shook his head to disperse the snow that had collected over it and wiped off his tears. Suddenly, he started running, fell down and then sprinted again. But he knew that it would catch him, it always did. Surely, the pictures swept in front of him and he became witness to yet another hallucination.

It was eight in the evening and he had just come home. He heard the sound of loud barking and before he had time to make sense of it, a sharp blow hit across his forehead and he crashed down. Adem woke up to a nightmare— only that he wasn’t sleeping. He was tied to the door. His daughter lay in the bed in front of him, she was stark naked. He closed his eyes and screamed and cried.

A tight slap hit across his face. It opened his eyes and forced him to witness. The soldier climbed into the bed, encouraged on by fits of laughter and cheers. Adem looked on in disbelief. He had stopped screaming. The man raped his daughter. She wept, begged for mercy, begged for help…The dogs had started to bark even louder and their barking seemed to be drowning her voice and her strength. Adem wished for respite, wished for death. He’d gladly accept either. Moments later, another soldier entered the scene and repeatedly raped his daughter. Adem fainted. Not much later, he was awakened by boiling water poured over his head but it didn’t hurt at all. Physical pain seemed so minute…

This time his wife was the centerpiece. Besides her lay his daughter, apparently dead. His wife was screaming too but Adem didn’t flinch, he didn’t cry. He watched quietly as his wife became another toy for the animals. Next his son was brought in. It was a procession of death and he was the chief guest. The little child’s hands were placed on the table and severed, one by one.

The child had fainted after the first blow but the savages systematically continued to mutilate him, one bit at a time. The remains of the innocent human beings were gathered and then thrown in front of the beasts’ beasts. Throughout the ordeal, Adem had fainted several times but the butchers made sure that he didn’t miss any of the action. They didn’t kill him, though. It was too easy an escape.

Adem was now screaming and hammering his head into the barren ground. He kicked, he shouted, he cried…Why couldn’t these thoughts leave him alone? He raised his hands to the heavens and begged for mercy.

The mirage of his thoughts had barely subsided when he heard Serb words behind him.

He smiled and looked back.

A shot whizzed past his ear but the second one was more accurate.

The old man fell down with a thud.

He was dead and so too seemed hope.


For background information and eye-witness accounts, pls visit these links:

  1. General Information On Wikipedia on Bosnian Genocide and Srebrenica Massacre
  2. Eye-witness accounts and more on PBS
  3. Case Study: The Srebrenica Massacre
  4. Eyewitness to Gendercide: A Critical Feminist Analysis of Rape as a Tool of War in Bosnia and Rwanda
  5. Robert Fisk: Our shame over Srebrenica
  6. Memorialization of the Srebrenica Massacre (Photos)
  7. Srebrenica Survivors Sue Netherlands, United Nations
  8. Srebrenica, An Orchestrated Tragedy (a Documentary)
  9. Genocid.org (Tons of information and photos)

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Amad

    July 31, 2008 at 9:12 AM

    As I was scanning this story from the the decade-old pages I had printed it on, I was thinking how far the electronic age had come. I don’t recall exactly when I wrote it, but I remember e-mail and internet being new frontiers at the time. There was no place I could really publish this, except offer it to the print-media, where it could be either accepted or rejected. At that time, we relied on “official” news channels for information. There was no opportunity for Bosnians to blog about their situation. Or fellow sympathizers around the world. No facebook support group, no internet campaigns, etc. You could easily shut a population down and destroy it, as the Serbs tried to do. No more now. How much things have changed. Some for the good, some for the bad.

  2. iMuslim

    July 31, 2008 at 10:05 AM

    It terrifies me how humans can behave worse than the most evil of creation… not even like animals; like shayateen – true demons of the darkest kind. May Allah protect us from the evil of our own selves and His creation. Subhanallah.

  3. Amna

    July 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    Subhanallah! It never ceases to amaze me the destruction that human hands can cause. Allah gave us little power on Earth compared to His and look at the injustice that spreads. In comparison, His Power makes Him Just. Subhanallah!
    This piece was great, mashallah!

  4. Amad

    July 31, 2008 at 1:16 PM

    We have to be mindful of this history. People don’t become animals overnight. There is a slow and systematic process of brainwashing and fear-mongering.

    Do we think that these Serbs or the German Nazis or the Russian army in Chechnya or the Gujarati Hindus became beasts overnight? No, rather, the process of inculcating hate and bias kept on going for years, decades and eventually when the opportunity came, this hatred was unleashed.

    Why is this relevant? I keep reminding people, and I said this in a speech on Islamophobia at school, that even though what is happening in America, in terms of islamophobia, is not at the proportion of Nazi Germany or other centers of pre-genocide. But, it is a slow process. And we cannot let that hate reach such a boiling point, such that when there is an opportunity or an incident that sparks anti-Muslim sentiment; that this hatred isn’t suddenly unleashed upon Muslims in America. If we don’t stop this train of Islamophobia, in American, and worse in Europe, then we will be left to wonder on later what happened!!

  5. abu abdurrahman

    July 31, 2008 at 2:03 PM

    i can’t believe that people still actually support him but then again there are still neo-nazis out there.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2008/0730/1217368580572.html

  6. Samaha

    July 31, 2008 at 2:59 PM

    Amad – thank you for thinking of me – this is just one big war criminal but so much more accountability needs to take place – the UN, individual countries and not just the leaders of this campaign but individuals that had commited acts that you have described above. Until then – all of these things will keep happening in this world. When organizations like the UN can not hold to their own genocide articles and then hide behind immunity – I lose all hope.

    You’re also correct that people don’t just become animals over night it takes a lot of brainwashing – here’s a post with a link to an interesting article which discusses this a bit: http://samaha.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/yugo-nostalgia-heavy-sarcasm/ . I agree with you about the Islamophobia – maybe because in Bosnia we never saw this comming – we were friends, we inter married, most people were agnostic .. so we never felt this Islamophobic presence which could have been a warning .. the propoganda was really subtle and while there was some sort of animosity towards Muslims by very few people (nothing like the standards of what is happening in the US) it never seemed like it would be a problem. Also – since I’m here – I do want to mention that there were Serbs who fought with the Bosnians and Serbs who protected Bosnians from Serb forces and many Serbs lost their lives for it – I know of one from my mothers home town that was hiding Bosnians from the forces and was killed for it.

    You know, it was at this time (1992) as well that I started using the internet and you are so correct at how much it has changed. I was the secretary for a Bosnian youth organization that was actively involved in the Bosnia crisis – we even had our own radio program and I used to write/compose the news in Bosnian and English for our broadcasters. $300.00 a month phone bills and I didn’t have the luxury of google and advanced searches back then. Who knew when my father bought us that Commodore 64 back in the mid 80’s .. sat us down and told us that one day we’d be doing all our shopping and banking and EVERYTHING on this thing that we’d be here today doing just that and so much more like telling our stories and connecting with people accross the globe.

    The story – while very hard to read because it just reminds me of everything that my friends have gone through and relayed to me – was really well written. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  7. Amad

    July 31, 2008 at 3:44 PM

    Thanks Samaha for your comments. I am really glad that I did do some justice to the Bosnian tragedy. I was really worried about being wrong in such a sensitive issue.

    You know Shaykh Yaser Birjas worked in Bosnia for some time. I wish he would share some stories with us some day too.

    wasalam

  8. Hamdi

    July 31, 2008 at 4:07 PM

    I recently came back from Bosnia and I was there, in Republika Srpska, when the news of his arrest broke. The majority of the Serbs there were unhappy with the news and still consider Karadzic a hero. However, I also met a Serb whose family saved the lives of my neighbours by hiding them from the Serb army, just like Samaha mentioned.
    It’s interesting that Karadzic claimed today that he struck a deal with the United States in which he would be left alone as long as he didn’t appear in public, since the former Bosnian foreign minister and ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey recently said that he knew that such a deal existed and that he is prepared to testify in the Hague, if asked.

  9. Amad

    July 31, 2008 at 4:15 PM

    Thanks for sharing Hamdi. I can’t imagine how they could let this beast go unscathed, considering Karadzic’s role in the genocide.

    How is the situation in Bosnia? State of dawah? One thing that I have heard is that the genocide had an effect on Muslims to wake them up from their slumber… and that people started practicing more. Is that your and Samaha’s experience?

    w/s

  10. Samaha

    July 31, 2008 at 4:18 PM

    Amad – it would be great to hear some more stories.

    Hamdi – I was just wondering if I knew anyone that was over there when the news broke – and wow – to be in RS to hear it .. ughhh. I’ve also been writting about the lack of reaction from Serbians – I was following RTS’s website and a few blogs – shameful that they are so enthralled with his appearance, alleged mistress etc and make no mentions of the atrocities he’s commited. There had also been edited and deleted comments at RTS – when I first looked all the comments were pro-karadzic and then the site was done for a little while and when i went back – voila .. a new and improved comments thread that looked so much more balanced.

  11. Samaha

    July 31, 2008 at 4:24 PM

    No – Amad – I was always very religious. I had lived in Bosnia when I was 14 so that I could master the language so that I could attend Gazi Husrefbeg’s Medresa. Due to three Australian girls failing that year I was denied entrance to the madrassah because it was typical that foreigners did not do as well so it was ashame to take spots from Bosnians :( Reis ul-lema Mustafa Ceric had later secured me a spot since he was a family friend but by that time I was already 19 and had met who would soon become my husband and I had not taken that opportunity.

    I’m going to let Hamdi approach the state of the dawah question because he may be more knowledgeable and I’ll chime in if I disagree (from my own observations from 2 years ago) :-) I Hamdi – samo da znas da sam (typical) Bosanka – dobro se svadzam :-)

  12. Samaha

    July 31, 2008 at 5:17 PM

    Sorry – I read the question wrong Amad. I’ll chime in right away then .. from my own personal experience – I’ve actually seen a bit of a downfall in regards to being a practicing Muslim from a village that was predominantly Muslim that had more liberty to practice Islam during socialism. My mother was from Vlasenica and that is where I lived for a year .. it was hard comming by old friends and time was short but about the only revival I saw was that they now consider themselves Muslim, believe in god but I wouldn’t say that they are now practicing Muslims. It’s nice to know that so many people fast during Ramadan now and I hear it is supposed to be beautiful during that month and that many more people are going to hajj but to say that so many more people are praying five times a day now – would be a false statement.

    I’d have to say that in Sarajevo there seemed to be more young women covering their hair than I remember pre-war. Mostly I remember groups of girls from the madrassah that would venture out for a walk and older women who covered their hair in pre-war Sarajevo.

    The thing is that this is a start and an Islamic revival just because of persecution is bound not to last. The thing is that now there is hope because one can say that they are Muslim and that their children can go to ‘mejtef’ (sunday school) and that their children will know they are Muslim and inshallah, this will lead them to find out what Islam is – a natural revival.

  13. Seeker7

    July 31, 2008 at 5:38 PM

    SubhanAllah, reading this story…I did some searching and I found this series of videos by the BBC titled: A Cry From The Grave – Muslim Genocide In Bosnia, it’s in 11 10-min parts on youtube.

  14. Hamdi

    July 31, 2008 at 5:39 PM

    Samaha – Yeah, I’m from Bosanska Gradiska and I’ve seen t-shirts being sold with Karadzic’s and Mladic’s pictures on them. I don’t even react to that kind of a thing anymore since I’ve gotten used to it. What made me react, however, is that a Serb whom I am friendly with and joke around with, expressed his sadness about Karadzic’s arrest. It felt so weird to know that someone like that, whom I had good contact with and everything, still liked someone like Karadzic. It’s as if there is a type of cognitive dissonance among many Serbs. They have Muslim friends and act kind towards them, but still consider someone like Karadzic a hero. In fact, during an interview with Karadzic’s former Muslim colleague, he revealed that Karadzic used to call his mother every Eid to congratulate her, even after the war broke out.
    Anyway, I watched the news the days after his arrest and they asked normal Serbs on the streets about their reactions and basically every person they asked said that they were saddened by the news that he was arrested. Still, there were no major incidents in RS alhamdulillah which didn’t really surprise me since it seems that the general Serb population has abandoned Karadzic’s party in favour of Milorad Dodik and his ways, even though they still like Karadzic’s persona. I nadam se da nece biti razloga za svadju =P

    Amad – I am from a Muslim village in a Serb dominated area. The Muslims in this village are extremely secular and I would say that my family is one of the most secular ones in this already secular village, both my parents having been Communists. The presence of Islam here basically comes down to this (apart from the Muslim names and the occasional Arabic words used in everyday language):
    There are quite a few mosques (all of whom were destroyed during the war and have been rebuilt) and adhan is pronounced. There are maybe a dozen men in the mosque for Jumuah (women don’t attend). Islam really begins to play a part in their lives when someone dies. Apart from the janazah, you have sessions after a week, 40 days and a year has passed after the death in which the imam and some others that are present read the Qur’an, sing songs about the Seerah, do dhikr, praise the Prophet etc. The widow usually starts wearing hijab during her mourning period. You also have Eid celebrations and mawlid celebrations. Apart from this, I LITERALLY cannot think of anything among the people that would indicate that they are Muslims. No hijab, no people at the mosque for the daily prayers except the imam and maybe the retired imam. Apart from what I just listed, it’s just like the neighbouring Serb village with the bars, zina, etc. Even worse though, the general people have no clue about aqidah and it isn’t even that uncommon to hear people swearing at God. I know that there are places in Bosnia that aren’t like this, but this is the case in my village. This is largely due to Communism since I know that it was very different before that era. My great grandmother wore a niqab for example, something that would be unthinkable today.

    I have also been to Sarajevo and it is different there. You will see women with hijab (and some with niqab) as well as bearded men even though they are a minority. The Salafi dawah has had relative success since it was virtually non-existent in Bosnia before the war.

  15. Hamdi

    July 31, 2008 at 5:47 PM

    Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that people do send their kids to “mejtef” which Samaha talked about and that it is different during Ramadan with people fasting and going to tarawih prayers. Apart from those two things and what I listed in my previous post, Islam isn’t really that much present there.

  16. Samaha

    July 31, 2008 at 6:09 PM

    Hamdi – with the way the population shifted around in Bosna and all of the Serb propoganda – I’m really not surprised. I think a smart move right now would be to include an agreement between the EU and Serbia that annexing any portions of surrounding lands in other countries (ie. RS) can not happen and if such an act were considered that such act would be considered an act of war. Such an agreement might help put things into perspective for Bosnian Serbs. It’s still ashame that even though Karadzic is at the Hague that his campaign of ethnic cleansing suceeded and still even thrives in Bosnia – the lack of our returning refugees to their homes in RS is evidence of that. I’m glad that your family is able to live in Bosanska Gradiska. When I was in Vlasenica two years ago – I had been pinned between a rock wall and the side of a chetnik’s car just for having a camera – he wanted to know what I was doing and to inform me that he lives in one of these houses now.

    hehe – bas nismo imali razloga da se svadamo :-) Ali, bas ovdje uvijek se nadem u belajima – bas nema ta utopia za koju si prico u tvoj poslednji post na tvoj blog – mozda i zamalo ce mi istrajati ovaj bujrum. Eto – mozes posjetiti i moj blog ako me nestane ovdje.

  17. Amad

    July 31, 2008 at 6:42 PM

    jazakumAllahkhair to both of you for opening up this little window into the Bosnian world… most Muslims have no idea about European Islam, and this sort of first-hand information is refreshing and enlightening, and makes blogging so worthwhile! :)

  18. Hamdi

    July 31, 2008 at 6:46 PM

    Samaha – My family owned a house, an apartment and a café before the war and three Serb families took over all three places but we got them back a few years ago and I think that every Muslim family in our village has been able to get their house back. One Serb family that moved into a Muslim-owned house actually put up a picture of Karadzic on the window to provoke the Muslims. But RS have been forced to return the houses even though there are still some problems for all of the families to return.
    One thing I’ve noticed is that it seems that 5-6 years ago it was kind of taboo for politicians to talk too much about abolishing RS (for the Bosniak politicians) or having a referendum about RS independence (for Serb politicians) because of a kind of fear of OHR and perhaps also a fear of being viewed as too radical. Now, it is more okay to do so especially with the rise of Dodik and Silajdzic. This is just my perception.

  19. Hamdi

    July 31, 2008 at 6:49 PM

    Amad – Wa iyyak. It seems, however, that this discussion is going into a direction where only people already familiar with Bosnian politics will really understand hehe… If that becomes the case, feel free to ask for clarifications. It’s my pleasure to share some information.

  20. Aalia

    July 31, 2008 at 6:56 PM

    Oh my… This story brought tears to my eyes, subhanAllah :'( How can people become such evil, strong followers of shaytaan??? A`uthu billahi min ashaytaani-rajim wa humma. JazakAllahukhair for this reminder that just because the Bosnian genocide had been swept under the other headlines, doesn’t mean their suffering was any less. These were real people, families, Muslims.

    *sigh*

  21. AnonyMouse

    July 31, 2008 at 7:18 PM

    I’ve found that fiction always strikes me more than news reports do – maybe it’s because rather than simply viewing the facts (which in this care are horrifying enough in and of itself), the story goes into the person’s head and heart, creating a personal connection between us.

    Also, jazakumAllahu khairan to Samaha and Hamdi – just reading these comments, I’ve learnt quite a bit.

  22. Samaha

    July 31, 2008 at 7:20 PM

    Amad – glad that you are learning something about Bosnia. I think that is the point to blogging – we put ourselves out there to learn from each other, inform each other and I think we have a wonderfully diverse community of Muslim bloggers.

    Seeker7 – thanks for posting that link – I may have to use it today.

    Hamdi – in Vlasenica, if a Serb refugee is living in your home or has demolished your home and put up another house or strip mall – you have to go to court to get it back – and I hear the cases go on for years. My friends just came back from their summer trip and they had Serbs living in their house and they let them stay for free just so the house is kept up – they would visit and bring them gifts and their children chocolates – this year before their vacation they had asked them to move out because they needed to sell the place. This summer when they got back to their house – EVERYTHING was removed from the house – the curtains, cabinets, toilets, sinks and even the tub.

    I think that it is a natural reaction to talk about aboloshing the RS in response to talks of RS’s independence. This is the only reason I didn’t go back this summer – once Kosovo went independent I knew that it would take one minor incident for hostilities to take place.

    The thing is while I believe that the RS should not be allowed to seceed – I think it is the international community that is going to have to step up and take action on this – Paddy Ashdown just recently made some remarks in regards to this. Also there was an article at Avaz that interviewed an American ex-CIA specialist that said that Bosnia must come to an agreement or Bosnia is going to cease to exist – he predicts that it will not be able to and that RS will become independent. So, Silajdzic has to make the statements that he is making otherwise we will lose RS. I may never be able to return to Vlasenica to live but on the other hand I couldn’t bare the thought of anyone losing their lives over it in order for me to be able to return (not Muslims and not Serbs) and I do not want Bosnians to be the agressors. By the same token I do not want the ethnic cleansing/genocide campaign to be rewarded with an independent RS. We all kind of knew that Dayton was a reward for the aggression but I think many people thought that we’d be able to prepare ourselves for a better defense and that Serb hostility would resume again in the near future. Long term .. I knew that Dayton meant writting off RS. If there is a way to not reward the systematic cruelty that took place on our people – I think we need to resort to it – diplomatically cutting off RS from any hopes of independence is going to be it – but that is going to take pressuring the international community into action.

    What’s your opinion on all this talk?

  23. Hamdi

    July 31, 2008 at 7:50 PM

    Samaha – We also got our home back by going to court and resolving it there. They also took everything but the walls, roof and the foundation.

    As for the whole RS, issue. I don’t know, I think I’ve become a bit jaded. I used to get all worked up when the issue came up, but things don’t seem to go forward, really, and it all seems to be hot air. The international community insists on Dayton and wants to upholds the status quo (which is also in the interest of RS since they seem to be giving up on the idea of RS independence in the short term) even though they know that Bosnia cannot be a normal country with the situation as it is now, and as long as that is the case not much can happen. I know that the RS exists because of genocide and ethnic cleansing and as such shouldn’t exist, as a matter of principle. But I have just gotten so tired of the whole thing since it doesn’t seem to go anywhere and I agree with you that lives should never be lost because of this.

  24. Samaha

    August 1, 2008 at 3:11 PM

    mouse – glad you are learning something and there really is a lot of literature out there that is written by Bosnians who lived through the war and many books by foreign journalists as well – I know how much you love to read.

    Hamdi – I know that the issues are tiring but comming up with a just solution is important – it’s importance goes way beyond Bosnia and affects how all conflicts are fought. I mean when you think about it – when the UN can’t live up to its own genocide convention articles and actively do everything in its power to thwart it – what good is the UN, what is going to get those in other conflicts to ever give up their weapons when they have seen what happened to Srebrenica under UN protection. What is going to keep leaders from inspiring the masses to commit these acts when the example of Bosnia is territorial reward for those actions – Karadzic may be in the Hague but there is something to be said about his hero status – if the Serbs weren’t rewarded with land for their agression, were in some way punished for this agression then maybe Karadzic wouldn’t be a hero – and some people may choose jail for that status amongst their people.

    Additionally, this wasn’t the first time we were persecuted in Bosna and it might not be last time if we are only going to look at RS’s short term goals – maybe we can secure a better future now by taking appropriate diplomatic actions to thwart the long term goals. There’s also so much we can do to actually bring back our Muslim population to RS but it would take a lot of money to implement it but unfortunately we’re not the wealthiest society to do this and Islamic countries seem more interested in building up the mosques and madrasas than to assist in relocating our population back to its hometowns or investing into our economy. But, yes it is all very complex and there is only so much we are going to be able to do.

  25. Pingback: Out and About in the Islamosphere and a Global Voice « Samaha

  26. wikipedia_needs_policing

    August 1, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    Thanx for the article

    I think more muslims should take a larger proofing role on some of these wikipedia articles, particularly related to issues related to muslims. I always feel as though news such as this “muslim genocide” gets under-rated and overshadowed by technical aspects of the case. Is it a genocide, or not, was it state crime or much smaller individual responsibility etc…and list of reductionist terms go on… always packaged with controversies, or ” stupid reductionist opinions” .

    The massacre took place a decade ago, but the story seems to get merely focused on the political motivations of such crimes. The human side is never focused in isolation or given enough weight or exposure. The numbers, the names etc…all are less important.

  27. Owen

    August 2, 2008 at 7:33 AM

    Samaha, excuse me having a pop. I’m surprised to hear you say “Long term .. I knew that Dayton meant writting off RS.” Dayton was a fix to a situation on the ground. It involved Milosevic because Milosevic was a power-broker. Milosevic is gone. While it was a fix, it wasn’t a hand-out. There were conditions attached that RS has fought tooth and nail not to meet, above all of course respect for the rule of law in its institutions. There should be no question of accepting the entity status of RS as a given. To do so is to allow the people who profited from genocide to capitalise their gains. It’s not just a question of what’s important for Bosnia, it’s a question of what’s important for “Never Again”.

    Hamdi, thanks for the story. It’s important to have an occasional punch between the eyes like that to remind us outsiders what all the fuss concerning alternative therapists is really about. (and thanks for the signpost, Samaha)

  28. Owen

    August 2, 2008 at 7:37 AM

    Sorry, Amad, I got the authorship of the story muddled. Of course, the thanks remain the same.

  29. Samaha

    August 2, 2008 at 10:57 AM

    Sorry Owen – I really should clarify it. I knew that long term that their was potential for RS to attempt independence and by that potential that we would write it off.

  30. patb

    August 2, 2008 at 1:04 PM

    I need a history lesson from you folks that have lived this.
    How long has the problem existed between the different ethnic religios groups in the former Yugoslavia and the region?
    I had a serb tell me that the present hatred goes back to the World War Two period when the Mufti of Jerusalem raised a 20,000 man Muslim division for the German Wafen SS that terrorized the Serb population and hunted anti Nazi partisans. He said many still remember that period but the strong communist government (ruthless) kept the lid on issues by threat of force.
    Has this ethnic/religious unrest been continuous from the time of Islamic expansion (Spanish conquest) or is it a phenomina of the last century?

  31. Hamdi

    August 2, 2008 at 2:37 PM

    Samaha – Yeah, of course we need a solution to the problem. I just don’t see one coming in the near future. I think that if things remain the same the next 10-20 years, then a new generation of Bosnians who don’t have the war in recent memory will be able to make Bosnia a normal country, since nationalism may become less popular with the goal of most people in Bosnia to become EU members and have better living standards. Nationalism wont put food on your table.
    Allahu a’lam.

    patb – I’ve never actually heard Serbs emphasising the whole Bosnian Muslim invovlment in WW2. Usually I hear it from Western Islamophobes and never from the Serbs themselves, which has always made me feel that it might’ve been blown out of proportion. I don’t know.

  32. Owen

    August 3, 2008 at 4:35 AM

    Samaha, I know you’re not a defeatist! It’s important, however, that everybody he’s talking to hears Paddy Ashdown’s wake-up call about the way Dodik is creating parallel structures in Republika Srpska –
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/27/serbia.balkans (if the article itself doesn’ show, click on Read Full Article). He argues that Bosnia is in danger of breaking up. Dodik is taking advantage of the political vacuum to move RS towards complete autonomy, undermining the Bosnia that Dayton envisaged, and eventually aiming at secession. He’s the only man working to a plan, Croats wait and see, Bosniaks squabble and EU is tired – the locals pretend to reform and the EU pretends to believe them.
    But also go down the Comments (most are the usual apologist rubbish) to an interesting one by someone called “discourse-analysis” in which he talks about the constraints on Dodik> He sees Dodik as having less scope to pursue independence and characterises Bosnia since Dayton as being trapped in a state of “Malign stability”.

  33. patb

    August 3, 2008 at 3:16 PM

    Hamdi,
    I think you are wrong about that actually. I first heard about that (Muslim SS) studying history in the 60’s from an American friend Milan Peric (sp) and didn’t really believe him til I looked it up. There wasn’t much written about it but much more is available nowadays on the internet. It is history and not a phobia as that’s an irrational fear. Iook it up as it wasn’t an insignificant event, the Muslim SS division also was used in Hungary to hunt Jews and other ‘objectionable’ people at the behest of the Germans.
    In truth, the British initially supported the Serbs in this recent conflict as they thought them more of allies (fought for the Allies against the Nazi’s) than the Muslims/Croates that they identified with the German effort. The Brits’s fought behind the scenes to support the Serbs for this instance alone.
    That being said this bloody conflict, wether religious or ethnic, is an ugly reminder of the depravity of men when they rationalize rape/murder as if it will further their goals.

  34. Samaha

    August 4, 2008 at 9:52 AM

    Owen – I know and that is why I have been saying that we need to take advantage of diplomatic efforts – Silajdzic is rocking the boat because he has no choice – really.

    patb – Milan Peric is at the very least a Serbian-American. I was born here as well and if I tell people that I am Bosnian-American so that people do know that I have an interest in the region. So, my dear, please read my link somewhere above about perpetually endless Serbian victimization.

    Now – there has been tensions between us since before even WWI and that has to do with the Greater Serbia dream and chetniks – not because of some SS division in which the Bosnians were 20,000 (most reported number and please make sure you are referring to BOSNIANS in this thread and not all of the balkan Muslims who were all divided between a couple of batallions.

    During WWII Bosnians had to go through the same as what went through this past war – they were being slaughtered by Chetniks, Ustase (Croatian Nationalist extremists) and then there were Partizans who were fighting for communism. Many Bosnians stayed out of the war altogether – others did join the Partizans and a relatively small group joined the SS division only to defend their local territories – they did not have many choices it’s not like their was some magical democratic side they could join – all sides represented something against their nature. Again – they were in a position of having to defend themselves from territorial goals of neighboring nationalist extremists – war takes great tolls on people but considering the small number that did go to the SS division this is hardly something to complain about in terms of Bosnians.

    Additionally, one of the batalions with Bosnian soldiers – the Bosnian soldiers were slaughtered because the German officers could not handle being with them – I believe they even killed many as they prayed. The other batallion was in France – and why is it that no one mentions that this is the only group to ever carry out a mutiny – France celebrates this batallion every year for their bravery.

    As far as I can recall – the Bosnian batallion was only training to be ready to protect local areas in Bosnia from being attacked, Croatians had already cleared Sarajevo of Jews and there is enough evidence of the Muslims accross Bosnia not wanting to take part in these efforts and even taking stand against it in Sarajevo.

    But yeah – it kills me – this whole SS thing gets fed to the west and Jewish community via Trifkovic and people gobble it up whole but if only you knew the animosity that Serbs feel towards both the west and Jews.

    Still – the MAJORITY of Bosnia’s Muslims were secular before this last war and even today most are – we lived with Serbs peacefully, they were our friends, we inter-married, they were our best men and maids of honor and if you had seen this society pre-war – you would never have imagined that this would happen.

  35. bint Ashfaq

    August 4, 2008 at 11:05 AM

    Subhan’Allah i actually sat down to read this, at times it’s all too much and i’ll skim read it. Subhan’Allah this is one story that made me stop and cry instantly and that doesn’t happen alot. I remeber watching a few clips on Islam Channel news long ago, it was bad at times humans can be the most evil of creatures. How evil, may Allah protect us and save us from such animals. ameen.

    Jazak Allahu khayr for posting this br Amad, very well written and all those who have given us a greater insight into Bosnia.

  36. Owen

    August 4, 2008 at 11:18 AM

    Churchill chose to work with Tito despite ideological differences because Tito was the only Yugoslav leader he believed had the determination to defeat the Germans in Yugoslavia. The Major govt basically supported the Serbs because Milosevic was seen as likely to achieve a stable final outcome reasonably quickly. There was quite a lot of accompanying propaganda exploiting the WWII relationship but basically John Major and Douglas Hurd seem to have wanted the whole untidy business sorted out with minimum fuss.

    I can very rarely bring myself to say anything positive about Margaret Thatcher but she was on the ball over Bosnia. In her New York Times article in August 1992 – http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=108299 – she spoke her mind pretty unambiguously. She called for NATO intervention to stop the Serb/Serbian assault on Goražde and Sarajevo, in order to end ethnic cleansing and to preserve the legitmate Bosnian state of Alija Izetbegovic. She referred to “the Serbian ‘ethnic cleansing’ policy—a term for the expulsion of the non Serb population that combines the barbarities of Hitler’s and Stalin’s policies toward other nations”. She described the the conflict as a “killing field the like of which I thought we would never see in Europe again.”

    For some reason Serb sources always seem to have a lot of information to offer about the Bosnian Muslims who collaborated with the Nazis and very little about the Serb collaborators. Samaha, I find it extraordinary anyone can pay attention for long to Trifkovic’s pedantic pseudo-academic milking of the limitless history of Serb victimhood. He certainly helped me work out early on which side was more likely to be telling the truth.

  37. patb

    August 4, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    Samaha,
    Thank you for your viewpoint and yes, Milan was an American Serb.
    I only find this interesting (the SS thing) from the viewpoint of the Mufti of Jerusalem and his personal contacts with Hitler. A very unusual alliance.
    This begs the larger question of multi culturalism and societal health in a nation state. It seems that a happy medium in society requires just that, a medium or meeting point. When ethnic cultures develop, or maintain, different languages, modes of dress, etc. and different visions based upon disparete cultures they tend to clash at different levels.
    In your experience that multiculturalism ‘experiment’ did not work unless there was an overarching ruthless regime to enforce peace.
    Celebrating a link to a culture left behind (as has traditionally been the case in the US) and importing a culture to stand alone within the established culture will, I believe, cause issues.
    Maybe these enclaves will eventually disperse, I hope so. A certain commonality must exist for the common good.
    I’m not speaking about religion.

  38. jawwadsti

    August 4, 2008 at 4:01 PM

    This article makes me so sad :(

  39. bosanka

    August 7, 2008 at 5:17 PM

    Things are pretty clear here, Serbs (99,9 %) are very saddened by Karadzic being imprisoned, they consider him as their hero and not afraid to show that. In past few days there have been several “gatherings” in Republic of Srpska, where men, women and children went out in the street, showing how much they love him, shouting that allowing his arrest is shame for Serbian people and carrying billboards that saying : We are all Karadzic. Police is very active in that part of Bosnia, as treats to Serbian prime minister and others came from there.

    Imagine how does it feel to actually LIVE here. Surrounded by those same people who were killing us for all those years. And Hamdi, I understand you pointing to our people being affected by communism, this is very true, but Islam has come to a better days here during and after the war. At least thats the case with youth. Me, I didn’t know anything about Islam b4 war. This is mostly due to the fear of my parents, as we lived in city with Serbs as majority. But alhamdulillah, a lot has been changed and I see many many people living Islam and feeling proud because of it.

    May Allah’s help be with Muslims, fe koll makan.

  40. Olivia

    August 10, 2008 at 2:47 PM

    I went to a highschool in Indiana and there was a group of highly nationalistic serbs who went there too and they were NUTS. they had all this serbian propaganda all over their backpacks scrawled in whiteout and would draw serbian tattoos on themselves with pen. everybody thought they were whacky and made fun of them but it didnt phase them at all. shows you how evil nationalism is.

    im so glad theres a day of judgment where all those evil people will get their come-uppance.

    EDIT: Sorry k, can’t let that last one through ;)

    luv,
    b (aka Siraaj)

  41. Amina

    August 18, 2008 at 9:30 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    I come also from the city that is occupied by Serbians.
    Alhamdulillah I am blessed that I am still alive and that Allah guided me to learn Islam and practice it. Even in Bosnia majority of people are still not practicing religion but we have more and more our youth studying Islam correct way so they can inshAllah teach other.
    May Allah unity our ummah and make us better Muslims. Ameen

    Assalamu alaikum

  42. ilmsummitee

    December 7, 2008 at 12:12 PM

    I just came upon this story, but JazakAllahu khairan brother for the story, SubhanAllah it really touches upon the personal element.

    I remember growing up about both the Kosova and Bosnia conflicts and killings. May Allah restore their lands and all the Muslim lands with peace, justice—and bring in rain to the desolate misery out of which will spring hope and strength and blossom into victory. Ameen.

    Keep the ummah in your duaas, always brothers and sisters, let us not forget them………

    Wasalams.

  43. Pingback: In Memory of Srebrenica | MuslimMatters.org

  44. ASKARI

    May 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Allah Humma al an Quam azzalameen

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