Muslims in Serbia Clash; Church Desecrated

Earlier this month in the “multi-ethnic” Sandzak area of Serbia (i.e. majority Muslim):

Two rival Muslim groups have clashed over the right to hold prayer in a mosque while a Serbian Orthodox Church was desecrated in a separate incident in southwest Serbia.

The Riyasat of the Islamic Community in Serbia, headed by reis Adem Zilkic, charged that rival members of the Islamic Community headed by mufti Muamer Zukorlic stopped Zilkic’s followers of holding prayers at the mosque in the town of Trnava, near Novi Pazar, the biggest town in Sandzak, the mostly Muslim populated region in Serbia.

Zilkic’s Riyasat is close to Belgrade’s authorities while Zukorlic considers Bosnia and Herzegovina as the centre of his Meshihat.

The division of the two communities has led to many clashes in the past.

In the meantime, Zilkic sternly condemned an incident in which unknown perpetrators wrote “vulgar and offensive” graffiti on the wall of the Serb Orthodox Church in Novi Pazar.

“Desecration of any religious object causes discord and, according to the Koran represents a greater sin than murder,” said the statement issued by Zilkic’s Riyasat.

The church of St. Peter in Novi Pazar was built in the 9th century, and is the oldest preserved Serbian place of worship.

Emphasising the good relationship with the Serbian Orthodox Church, the statement said that ‘’those who do not wish well to their own people, especially when it comes to multiethnic territories such as Sandzak, cause this and similar provocations.’’

“Bosniaks and Serbs have been sharing this mutual space for years, living in peace, tolerance and successfully resisting all temptations,” it added.

I’ve written about the Belgrade-loyal Muslims of Serbia before here and here, commenting how well these Muslims (and even the anti-Belgrade Muslim Zukorlic) have admitted to being treated in Serbia.

That’s why it was particularly galling to stumble upon this idiotic February article in

By Tom Hundley
In Serbian city, tolerance rules: A visit to an island where Muslims manage to get along with Jews — as well as Croats and Hungarians

Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that the city is in SERBIA, as opposed to in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia or Greater Albania. The article begins with the sentence “SUBOTICA, Serbia — Serbia is not a place that has been known for its ethnic tolerance.” That is, if you’re brainwashed.

The piece continues:

Tomislav Nikolic, the candidate of the Serbian Radical Party, which espouses the kind of ultra-nationalism that devoured the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, won the first round of last month’s presidential elections, and many in Europe are concerned about the country’s direction.

Sitting on the faultline of several civilizations, Subotica is a place where Serbs seem quite content to live as an ethnic and linguistic minority, where they don’t feel threatened by sharing space with Hungarians, Croats, Montenegrins, Bunjevcis, Ruthenians and more than a dozen other obscure nationalities that last flourished during the golden age of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Subotica also is the rare place in Europe where the indigenous Muslim community is building a new mosque complete with minaret and dome — and nobody seems to mind.

And where a minuscule Jewish community — about 260 strong — is restoring the city’s monumental synagogue…

“Subotica is a special place,” said Fetis Kurdali, leader of the city’s Muslim community. “I tell people about the good relationship we have with the Jewish community, and they look at me like this cannot be true. But it is true.”

Hungarians, who make up 38 percent of the municipality’s population of 150,000, are the largest ethnic group, followed by Serbs (24 percent) and Croats (11 percent).

For Tatiana Bjelosevic, a Serb, and her partner Admir Delic, a Muslim, Subotica has been a safe haven. Both are refugees from Bosnia.

“This is the only place we could survive,” said Bjelosevic.

The unwillingness of Belgrade politicians to bend on the question of Kosovo has left Serbia on Europe’s doorstep and deeply frustrated most people in Subotica, including many Serbs who say they would trade Kosovo — reluctantly — for a seat at the European Union table.

Kucsera undoubtedly speaks for the majority of his constituents when he says “The EU is our only alternative. The EU is our dream.”

That depends on how much shit you can fit down your throat. Any Serbian citizen who recognizes that he or she has tolerated more than his or her fair share of said shit, here’s an alternate plan, as defined by John Bosnitch, president of the Washington chapter of the Serbian Unity Congress:

The upcoming condition of having to recognize Kosovo in order to join the EU is an obvious certainty. This is proof more than ever that Serbia should never join the EU. We need to come to grips with the reality that Serbia would only ever be allowed to join the EU by begging on its knees and by renouncing its essence. Serbia would then have to turn over its rich resources and even then would only see some little benefits flowing down to it through the intermediaries of Croatia and Slovenia, the two German pseudo-colonies trusted by the EU oligarchs to “handle” Serbia within the EU…

Outside the EU, but bordered by it on all sides, Serbia could be an economic landing pad for the gargantuan Chinese and Indian economies to enter geographic Europe without having to submit to the terms of the German-dominated EU. There is no new “EU-Berlin Wall” that Germany can build high enough to stop the combined productive output of Russian resources and Asian economic support from flooding out of a properly realigned Serbia into surrounding states, leaving Serbia as the sole vibrant economic center in southeast Europe for a hi-tech and high-volume Eastern production base. What Marco Polo did for Italy must be replicated by a coordinated Serbian outreach to the East.

Far too many uninformed Serbs have been brainwashed into looking only to the West and to seeing the West as some kind of paradise on earth…The near-pathological identity crisis that guides EU-centric Serbs and collaborators…is nothing other than an inferiority complex based on materialism and an ignorance of the long history of the limitless energy and independent-mindedness of the Serbian people.

Earlier in the Subotica article the author wrote that many in the EU “are concerned about [Serbia’s] direction.” That would be the same EU that fast-tracked the ethnically-cleansed Croatia which is in the news at least once a week either for Hitler-honoring sugar packets, mainstream Nazi concerts, Pavelic-honoring restaurants and so on. (Croatian leader Ante Pavelic was the far-more-bloodthirsty-than-Hitler exterminator of Serbs and others during WWII.) So after welcoming Croatia (and the equally ethnically pure Slovenia), it’s Serbia that the EU is worried about. Are we getting a picture yet of the nature of this EU? Like I always say, when I first heard that Europe was re-unifying, I gave away all my Star of David pendants, locked the doors, turned out the lights, hid in the attic and started a diary.

So the irony and inversions of an article that raises an eyebrow at a tolerant “side” to Serbia are thick all around, given that here was otherwise “intolerant” Serbia’s adversary during the war that gave this writer the impression that Serbian “nationalism” had something to do with the problems of the 1990s:

Another 200 Jews flee from Sarajevo
Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post International Edition, April 25, 1992:

Another group of 200 Jews was airlifted out of war-torn Sarajevo to Belgrade last week, bringing to nearly 380 the number of Jews who have fled the city this month, according to Michael Kleiner, head of the Knesset’s aliya and absorption committee.

Kleiner said the airlift is being organized by the Jewish community in Yugoslavia, a group of Israeli businessmen there, and the Serbian Federal Army, which is helping “as a humanitarian gesture.”

“I met someone who just arrived from Yugoslavia and described for me the nightmare for the Jews in Sarajevo,” Kleiner said. “There are Croat groups terrorizing Jews and Serbs, using tactics the Nazis used,” he said.

According to Kleiner, the Jewish community is planning to get the remaining 900 Jews out of Sarajevo as soon as possible. He said it is much easier to evacuate Serbs, since the Jews are spread throughout the city.

Kleiner called upon Yugoslavia’s 5,500 Jews to leave the country “before it is too late.”

And here, once again, was Croatia at the time — the other major adversary of “nationalist” Serbia in the 90s, from the Nov. 18, 1993 issue of the UK Guardian:

Jewish leaders in Zagreb are calling on the Croatian government to halt attempts to rehabilitate the second world war fascist regime. They warn that the disturbing trend is fuelling ethnic, religious and racial intolerance.

Among the most vocal campaigners for international recognition of Croatia two years ago, Jewish leaders are distressed by “extensive” condonation of the Quisling Ustashe state, which slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies.

The Croatian authorities have tacitly condoned efforts to play down Ustashe atrocities and have exonerated some of the perpetrators.

President Franjo Tudjman set the revisionist ball rolling several years ago with his book Wastelands: Historical Truth, which minimises the number of victims at the Jasenovac death camp[s].

Since then streets, squares and schools dedicated to anti-fascist fighters have been renamed and a monument in memory of 1,500 Jews executed at the Jadovno concentration camp has been demolished.

Recently the Zagreb leadership announced plans to revive the kuna, the currency in circulation during the Ustashe regime.

President Tudjman has proposed that the remains of Croats executed by the partisans should be transferred to Jasenovac. This was the final straw for Croatia’s Jewish community. They stressed, in an unprecedented protest letter to the government, that while many innocent civilians were murdered by the communists, Ustashe were also among those killed.

The prospect of fascists being buried side by side with their victims sickened Croatian Jews.

Jewish community leaders have called on the Zagreb district attorney to file war crimes charges against Ivo Rojnica, a senior Ustashe official who escaped to Argentina after the war and has been appointed ambassador by the Croatian foreign ministry.

“We are asking the government to fulfill its anti-fascist declaration. We will exert pressure and it will not take the form of mere protest letters,” said Srdjan Matic, leader of Zagreb’s Jewish community.

Jewish representatives believe the sanitisation of Croatian brutality in the second world war reflects Mr Tudjman’s effort to reconcile Croats of different political persuasions. On the one hand, they say, he patches over fascist crimes, while on the other he talks about the republic’s contribution to the anti-fascist movement.

The Croatian government, many observers believe, cannot afford to ignore protests from its Jewish community, whose support bolstered the republic’s request for international recognition after it seceded from Yugoslavia.

“Our lobbying gave them moral credibility at a time when they were often depicted as anti-Semitic or neo-fascist,” said Mr Matic, who feels the charges were then largely unfounded.

But if attempts to rehabilitate the Ustashe regime go unchecked, he warns, such accusations may soon have some justification.

So far Jews have been spared the state-sponsored discrimination visited on the Serb minority, but they are keenly aware that no one is immune.

“Revisionism encourages religious, ethnic and racial intolerance. It’s already reached incredible levels,” said Mr Matic, who believes that Croatian independence has been soured by moves to paint over Ustashe crimes.