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What We Can Learn from the “Butcher of Bosnia”

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The ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 was the greatest genocide in European history after the Holocaust of World War II[1], and remains Europe’s worst genocide ever since. It left well over 100,000 Bosnians murdered[2],[3] — 8,000 of those in Srebrenica alone — and nearly 3,000,000 souls displaced. Women were raped by the tens of thousands[4] as an official strategy of the Serbs, since a woman’s honor is so sacred in Islam. Children were slaughtered with wanton abandon and suckling babies were beheaded in front of their mothers.

In the Writ of Summons of the District Court of The Hague, eyewitness Ramiza Gurdić testified:

“At one time, I saw how a young boy of about ten was killed by Serbs in Dutch uniform. This happened in front of my own eyes. The mother sat on the ground and her young son sat beside her. The young boy was placed on his mother’s lap. The young boy was killed. His head was cut off. The body remained on the lap of the mother. The Serbian soldier placed the head of the young boy on his knife and showed it to everyone. There were at that moment Dutch soldiers in the vicinity. They stood by and did nothing. They appeared to be entirely indifferent. The woman was hysterical and began to call out for help. A Dutch soldier who was standing there said only, ‘No, no, no.'”[5]

There are scores of testimonies like this from Bosnian refugees wherein European “peacekeepers” watched without any care as the most nightmarish rapes and murders were perpetrated against the Bosnian people. These were not horrific exceptions. These were the horrific norm for years!

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The mastermind behind all of this was Radovan Karadžić, President of the Serb Republic from 1992-1996.

Karadžić was found to have been “instrumental” in a campaign of sniping and shelling that terrorized the civilian population of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. He was also convicted of being in charge of taking United Nations employees as hostages and obstructing NATO from carrying out airstrikes on behalf of besieged Bosnian Muslim civilians. He was found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A few days ago The Hague, while finding Karadžić guilty of all of  the aforementioned, crimes which earned the Nazis the death sentence after World War II, sentenced him to a mere 40 years in prison.

Just 40 Years

People get more than that for petty white collar crimes much less the genocide of over 100,000. March 24, 2016 will go down as a day of bitter anger and grief for those whose murders and sacrifices have been profaned and spit upon by The Hague.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, 2nd right, in the courtroom for the reading of his verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands Thursday March 24, 2016. The former Bosnian-Serbs leader is indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, 2nd right, in the courtroom in The Hague, The Netherlands Thursday March 24, 2016. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)

When we look at the Nuremberg trials and the sentences meted out to the Nazis, we see a very painful and troubling inconsistency that tells us —  even if you are White European, as the Bosnians are, your blood is worth nothing if you are Muslim. Here are some of those convicted at the Nuremberg trials after World War II:

  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war-crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[6]
  • Alfred Jodl – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[7]
  • Hans Frank – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[8]
  • Hermann Göring – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH. Committed suicide before execution.[9]
  • Fritz Sauckel – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[10]
  • Joachim von Ribbentrop – Charged with and convicted of crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[11]
  • Wilhelm Keitel – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[12]
  • Alfred Rosenberg – For his role as a planner of Nazi invasions of the Soviet Union and Norway, Rosenberg was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[13]
  • Wilhelm Frick – Frick’s main crime was his role in formulating the Enabling Act (later, the Nuremberg Law) as Minister of the Interior that led to people under those laws being sent to German concentration camps. So as an enabler but not an actual player in exacting the murderous results of those laws, he was charged with and convicted of planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[14]
  • Julius Streicher – This is the most interesting case which most lucidly displays the prejudice and disparity Europe has against Muslims. Streicher was not a member of the military and did not take part in planning the Holocaust, or the invasion of other nations. He was tried for being a firebrand ideologue of the Nazis and not for any active involvement in the Holocaust. He was charged for his hate speech against the Jews. Prosecutors argued that Streicher’s rhetoric was so inflammatory that he should be considered an “accessory to murder”. He was acquitted of crimes against peace, but found guilty of crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[15]

Granted, the death sentence no longer exists in international law but these stiff sentences from the Nuremberg Trials make clear that anything less than a life sentence for Karadžić is a sheer obscenity.

There is a lot of talk these days about “White Privilege” but the Muslims of Bosnia were nothing other than White Europeans, 100% of them. Did they get a country exclusively to themselves like what was awarded to the Jews, in someone else’s land, out of Europe’s guilt for the Holocaust? They absolutely did not.

They were forced to create a secular state with their Bosnian Muslim identity watered down into a pluralistic kumbaya of Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats. They didn’t get a religious state like Israel where they could keep everyone else sequestered into serfdom in an apartheid state with an actual wall to enforce the religiously and ethnically based class oppression. To the Bosnians’ credit they wouldn’t have even wanted that. But getting it wasn’t even remotely on Europe’s radar, nor did Europe feel any guilt for the genocide they watched happen in their own backyard for years.

Be Just but Expect Injustice

Yet, the lesson we would learn from this is one that was taught to us a millennium and a half ago with the revelation of the Qur’an:
8-73

“The non-Muslims are protectors of one another. If you do not [protect each other] the same, there will be lawlessness and injustice in the land.” [8:73]

As Muslims, we are to be the most just, equitable and friendly to the non-Muslims living around us. But we are to never forget the reality that, when it comes down to it, they will protect each other over us. There are, indeed, cases —arguably, exceptions— wherein non-Muslims valiantly champion the defense of Muslims. We see this often and we must acknowledge and respect it. However, the general rule is that humans will be humans, and will find an affinity towards their own kind over the “other”. But what is important for us to also acknowledge is that the Qur’an states a reality in that the demarcations between peoples in the world will ultimately narrow down to Muslim vs. Non-Muslim. When it finally reaches that point, a sign prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will have been fulfilled.

So always be just, fair and friendly towards your non-Muslim neighbors. Show them such kindness and respect that you stand out as an example of those ideals. That’s you doing your part as a Muslim who truly adheres to Islam. But never, ever be fooled into thinking that they would choose you over those whom they see as their own, nor are they inclined to deliver you the same justice as they would to their own.

That was proven on March 24, 2016 in Radovan Karadžić, a murderous lowlife blackguard who, much unlike some Nazis executed for far lesser crimes than his, will spend the rest of his life in relative comfort and care even if confined to “prison”.


 

[1] European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica, P6_TA(2009)0028 European Parliament – 15 January 2009.

[2] Bosnia’s “Book of the Dead”, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 26 June 2007

[3] Zwierzchowski, Jan and Tabeau, Ewa (1 February 2010). “The 1992–95 War in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Census-based multiple system estimation of casualties undercount”.

[4] “Statement by Dr. Haris Silajdžić Chairman of the Presidency Bosnia and Herzegovina”. United Nations. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2015.

[5] Writ of Summons District Court The Hague 4 June 2007, Section 237, p. 101

[6] Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide, Leslie Alan Horvitz, Christopher Catherwood, p. 257

[7] Ibid, p. 253

[8] Ibid, p. 157

[9] Ibid, p. 177

[10] Ibid, p. 383

[11] Ibid, p. 368

[12] Ibid, p. 262

[13] Ibid, p. 370-371

[14] Ibid, p. 158

[15] Ibid, p. 407-409


Shibli Zaman is a writer, analyst and blogger from Texas with a background in Semitic linguistics and philology who spent 4 years studying Islam overseas. His time overseas included studying Hanbali jurisprudence and working for Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah to start the website IslamToday.com. He is an SAP Netweaver consultant by profession.

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Shibli Zaman is a writer from Texas with a background in Semitic linguistics and philology who spent 4 years studying Islam overseas. Literate in Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, he received a Gold Medal from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK for Bible prowess. He studied Computer Science from the University of Houston and is an SAP consultant by profession.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. jjvanka

    March 27, 2016 at 8:18 AM

    There have been atrocities in BiH by Croats and also by Bosniaks, but they aren’t mentioned at all.

    • Sir Sid

      March 27, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      That’s because the article was about Cowardzic who is a Serb.

    • Eddo

      March 27, 2016 at 2:04 PM

      Yes, but while those incidents were isolated occurrences, what the Serbs did was a well planned out systematically and thoroughly planned out ethnic cleansing… Happened in Bosnia, happened in Croatia, happened in Kosovo. There is a reason why 95 percent of the captives in the Hague are Serbs, and 5 percent from the nations that Serbs attacked. Simple as that, stick to the facts. If you think I sound biased then please look up some independent online sources. ;)

  2. Michael Thompson

    March 27, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    The comment about “100,000 Bosnians” killed is incorrect. The Sarajevo government published a figure of 100,000 total deaths in Bosnia – from all sides. Of the 100,000 approximately 60,000 are combatants from the Serb, Muslim and Croat militaries. Of the 38,000 civilian deaths, the majority were Bosnian Muslim. But they also include thousands of Croat and Serb deaths.

    • Amal

      March 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM

      Esselamu alejkum

      I am my selfe Bosnian and a Muslim. Regarding the facts how many of people from all sides were killed, official dates concluded from the side of ” Demografic centre” of Hag show that most were killed Bosnian Muslims- with number of more than 68 000 killed people. This number is not everything, because during genocide comitted from side of Srbs thousands of women were raped, and about 3 million Bosnian Muslims were forced to leave their home land. Regarding other people in Bosnia and Hercegovina, it was killed about 22 000 of Srbs, and 8 000 of Croats.

      It is also important to say that behind this war or better say genocide, was a first intention of genocide from the side of Srb army and higher Srb leaders including Karadzic to ” get rid” of one people, only because we have different religion, tradition and names.

  3. Mahmud

    March 27, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    May Allah exalt the author if this article and VERY PERTINENT reminder by Shibli at the end!!!!

    Best MM article since Abu Aaliyahs masterpiece.

    • Roshanali Lakhani

      March 29, 2016 at 2:01 PM

      Brother Mahmud in Islaam, partner in humanity, I do agree.
      The facts are exposed as they were for many years, yet it took more than 20 years to convict the “Butcher”. He should have been convicted and sentenced to-DEATH/
      (life in jail) PENALTY. He is going to die soon (as he is already old now) without going through his punishment fully. Considering this he should be imposed with strictest rules- not a comfortable time in jail
      -Roshanali

  4. Julia

    March 28, 2016 at 11:16 PM

    great article mashAllah, shedding light on the hypocrisy that runs rampant against Muslims and their blood. It is a travesty that the “Butcher’s” blood is more sacred because of “humanist” ideals that the dead Bosnians shall never benefit from. May Allah wrap each and every victim in his infinite mercy and light, Ameen.

  5. Roshanali Lakhani

    March 29, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    THE ARTICLE IS VERY, VERY INFORMATIVE AND THE FACTS CORRECT. HOWEVER, SADLY THESE DO NOT REACH TO THE GENERAL READER- A PERSON OF ANY RELIGION FOLLOWER. THE FACTS SHOULD BE MORE PUBLICISED AND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM BE MORE RIGHTFUL WHEN IT COMES TO HUMANTY. IT SHOULD NOT BE BIASED.

    -Roshanali Lakhani

  6. Matthias Hess

    March 30, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    What happened in this war is a very very very sad tragedy. But never ever compare it with what had happened during the second world war. In three days there were as many people killed in Auschwitz or in Leningrad or in other places as there has been in the whole bosnian war. And beside all these masskillings during the II world war the only houses which weren’t distroyed at the end of the war in Serbia, in Ukraine, Belaruss etc where in the german quartiers in the big cities.

    • Nur

      February 6, 2020 at 7:06 PM

      “Never ever compare?” To me, it seems much worse than WW2. In WW2, countries were helpless, each country was either under attack or they feared to anger the Nazis. But the massacre in Bosnia happened at a time when the world was supposedly more civilised, when UN/EU/NATO existed and when Dutch UN forces were supposed to protect the innocents but they watched as Serbs massacred civilians, often in very cruel ways as depicted in the article.
      People seem to be quite horrified of what Nazis did, but they are quite forgetful of what happened just in 1990s. Western world is more willing to see so-called Islamic terrorists than the actual Muslims who are victims of hate.
      I am Turkish and some things are more visible to me when it comes to the double standards of Western people. When there were several terrorist bombings with hundreds of casualties, western people only considered it normal. After all, Turkey was seen as just another Islamic Middle Eastern Arab country that bred the terrorists by the ignorant masses of westerners, and they don’t even recognise PKK/YPG as terrorists anyways, so the one that was planned by PKK wasn’t a terrorist attack anyways, they were the good guys. Just a month later, when Paris attacks happened in Nov 2015, the whole world showed solidarity for France, often by displaying French flag in various places. Can you imagine the same happening for Turkey although the perpetrator organisation was the same in both cases? As long as the West doesn’t see people who identify as Muslims as fellow human-beings, they will only continue to feed the terrorists claiming to protect the rights of Muslims. And the joke and curse is on everyone who targets innocent peaceful Muslims for the faults of some terrorists, it is on everyone who ignores the sufferings of people because they are Muslims. It is your soul what is lost, the victims are free from the cruelties of this world after all, the living suffers for the injustice.

  7. Joe A Dobson

    April 4, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    Salams. Correct me if I am wrong but I was of the understanding that the court in the Hague cannot issue death sentences to anyone. Therefore, they can only jail people. Given how old Karadžić is, a 40 year sentence means he will die in prison. They could have given him a 200 year sentence but it would make no difference, he would still die in prison.

    Therefore this article in relation to his sentencing makes no sense at all. What am I missing?

    • M. Mahmud

      April 9, 2016 at 6:33 PM

      The ICC is a pathetic court that spends millions of dollars and plenty of time to convict a few war criminals and give them a nice comfortable stay in prison.

  8. Peace

    April 9, 2016 at 3:54 AM

    Without knowing a lot about the Hague court processes and not intending to justify Karadzic, it is important to know that Balkan non Muslim people have much resentment to Muslims due to –
    1. Ottoman / Muslim persecution of Christians over the centuries of Ottoman / Muslim rule.
    2. Muslim atrocities committed against non Muslim peoples in the Balkans in WW2.
    Let us pray that the love of God and forgiveness will rule.

    Over 750,000 Serbs died at the hands of Croatians and Bosnian Muslims who colluded with the Nazis in WWII. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was instrumental in helping recruit Yugoslavian Muslims into the Muslim Hanjar SS division, which committed many genocidal acts against the Serbs, who were painted as racially inferior to the Bosnian Muslims and thus worthy of destruction. This set the stage for the animosities of the 1990s.

    In addition to the Bosnian Muslims killed in the late 1990s, thousands of Serbian Orthodox Christian men, women and children were also killed. Because the Serbs are of the Orthodox faith and aligned to Russia, the Western world ignored atrocities against the Serbs and allied with the Muslims and Croats. As a result, we hear only that side of the conflict. In fact, there were three sides who fiercely hated each other and all committed atrocities. It was a very sad situation. The degree of hostility between the three groups shocked even the Nazis.

  9. Rehmat

    April 11, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    Bosnian Christian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic aka the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’ was not alone in the massacre, rape and expulsion of over 200,000 Muslims in B-H. He had a number of Zionist Jews to carry out his Muslim Holocaust.

    Missing at the world court was the indictment of three Muslim-hater Zionist Jews; Richard Holbrooks (US), Carl Bildt (EU) and Gen. Bernard Jean Vieh (UN) who gave ‘green light’ to Serbian forces to attack the Muslim areas including Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazda. It happened when the western powers realized that Bosnian army was about to recapture most of the land it lost to Serbian army during the early stages of the war. The Bosnian army received arms shipment from Iran and some foreign Muslim groups.

    Former Bosnian foreign minister, Mohammed Sacirbey, has claimed that in order to prepare ground for NATO’s “humanitarian invasion” – the Muslims genocide was engineered.

    “That involved Richard Holbrooke and involved Carl Bildt who, then, was the EU mediator and now is Sweden’s foreign minister. It involved a French general who was the head of the military forces of the UN in Bosnia — Bernard Jean Vieh. It involved Yasushi Akashi who was the head UN civilian official. They, in effect, acquiesced, gave the green light to Milosevic, Mladic as well as Karadzic to take over the territory of Srebrenica but also Zepa and Gorazde,”says Sacirbey in an interview with Press TV.

    https://rehmat1.com/2012/05/27/the-butcher-of-bosnia-and-his-zionist-helpers/

    • JF

      April 11, 2016 at 4:18 PM

      “The Bosnian army received arms shipment from Iran and some foreign Muslim groups.”

      “Foreign Muslim groups”. You must be referring to the Wahhabist-financed terrorist group al Qaeda, every Taliban mujahid available to travel, hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, members of the bin Laden family and any number of others who showed up in the former Yugoslavia looking for their newest conquest over the infidel.

      The Bosnians incorporated these vicious killers and torturers into their own unit and set them loose on their opponents.

    • Peace

      April 13, 2016 at 3:28 AM

      “Muslim hater Zionist Jews ” ! ? Next you’ll be referring to Jews as “Apes, Dogs and Pigs” as is common amongst Muslims.

      • Aly Balagamwala

        April 15, 2016 at 11:48 PM

        Define common?

        I have not heard this and I live in a country which is 95% muslim.

        *This comment is made in a personal capacity and may not reflect the views of MuslimMatters and/or its staff.

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