Bosnia: Blame Santa

By Anes Alic for ISN Security Watch

Thanks to a rather absurd, and so far unpopular, move by officials in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, Santa will not being coming down the chimneys of public schools this year.

Though a strong tradition for the past half a century, a decision supported by the Islamic community and the nationalist Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) party has banned Santa from his usual pre-New Year’s rounds to Bosnian nursery schools and kindergartens to hand out gifts to children.

Arzija Mahmutovic, the director of the Children of Sarajevo public institution, which operates 24 public kindergartens in Sarajevo, has refused to organize Santa’s traditional visit, arguing that it is not in the spirit of Islam. However, she added generously, that parents were free to organize a visit by Santa on their own and outside of public schools.

Santa, also known as Grandfather Frost and much beloved by Muslim, Serb and Croat children alike, has always visited schools and companies across the country. Most private kindergartens and schools organize a [Santa] visit and a New Year’s Eve celebration, while state-run schools play along depending on the leanings of those on their boards of directors.

Judging public reaction, the majority of parents in Sarajevo are opposed to Mahmutovic’s decision.

Media and internet portals held telephone and street polls finding that some 88 percent of Sarajevans supported Santa’s visits and insisted such holiday cheer was in no way offensive to any religion. Private kindergartens and nursery schools are not playing along with this latest attack on the jolly old figure, saying demand for Santa remained high among their clients, regardless of religion.

“Grandfather Frost is not a religious symbol. Unlike our politicians who are trying to separate us like sheep, Santa symbolizes friendship, joy and contributes to the richness of our city,” one parent said on an internet forum.

But Santa has fallen on bad times in Bosnia, and like everything else here, he has become an easy victim of nationalist politics. To Bosnian Croats, he is “Father Christmas” (Djed Bozicnjak); to Bosnian Serbs he is “Christmas Pal” (Bozic Bata); and to Bosniaks, “Grandfather Frost” (Deda Mraz). But soon, if the Islamic community and nationalist Bosniak parties have their way, he will cease to exist entirely.

The idea to ban Santa in Bosniak-majority areas is not [new]. In fact, the first failed attempt to ban Santa came from wartime Bosnian president and nationalist Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) leader Alija Izetbegovic.

[W]hat war did not manage to destroy, nationalists and their petty rhetoric are doing their best to finish off….Earlier this year, Sarajevo education authorities…decided to include religious education in Sarajevo kindergartens and nursery schools as well. The move caused outrage among many parents who refused to send their children - as young as two years old - to learn about religion, which here has extremely nationalist tones.

Those parents who opposed the move began protesting in a “Stop Religious Segregation in Kindergarten” campaign. However, religious Bosniaks, supported by the Islamic community, nationalist politicians, and the ever-disgruntled Mahmutovic…said the “petition represents a culmination of an anti-Islamic campaign.” And, so, here we are now.

Keep in mind that this anti-Santa-ism comes from Bosnia’s Islamic Community — the “moderate”, “tolerant” Islam of the Balkans — and not from the Wahhabis whom this “traditional Balkan Islam” has been butting heads with. As author Chris Deliso warned in his book:

The Bosnian civil war was, in fact, just the prelude to a longer and entirely different battle, one that would not be conducted against the Serbs, Croats, or Western peacekeepers, but against the Bosnian Muslims themselves.

It seems the Wahhabis’ job will be even easier than anyone thought, as the traditional, “reasonable” leadership meets them half way.

And let’s recall Nebojsa Malic’s description of Sarajevo in 2008:

September this year coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when the faithful are supposed to show their piety by abstaining from any food or water during the day…Though there are no official figures, Sarajevo is now thought to be more than 90% Muslim. Except early morning and after sunset, when tens of thousands of the faithful flocked to the city’s numerous mosques, the city was empty and silent. Traffic was sparse, and most businesses, shops and eateries were shut.

The evening prior was Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year 5769 by Hebrew reckoning. A handful of Sarajevo’s remaining Jews gathered in the Sephardic synagogue to mark the occasion. Were it not reported on public television, hardly anyone would have noticed.

Once upon a time, the Jews – who had settled in Bosnia following their expulsion from Spain – numbered in the tens of thousands, and owned more than half the shops and buildings in old Sarajevo. They were almost wiped out in WW2, when Bosnia was part of the Nazi-allied state of Croatia. Most of the remaining Jews left for Israel in 1992, and less than a thousand altogether remain in Bosnia now.

Celebrity journalists, agitators and professional victims can talk about their multi-ethnic myths all they want. Sarajevo is simply not the city it once was. Serbs, Croats, Jews – there aren’t enough of them to fill a single church or synagogue, while even the host of mosques built after the war in every neighborhood aren’t enough to hold the Muslim faithful on a major holiday.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting the number of times the author of the Santa Claus piece uses the words “religious” and “nationalist” in the same sentence (bolded above). This underscores the point that nationalism breeds jihad, and vice versa. This point is in response to the continual protestations against “obscuring” the Bosnian and Kosovo wars as having something to do with religion when they were “nationalist” in nature. Santa is not an “easy victim of nationalist politics.” He is a victim of worldwide jihad, which in the Balkans has proved one with nationalism. (Or else, what fortuitous timing the “nationalists” have!) Welcome to the world.

Here’s a nice little illustration of the nationalist-religious non-disconnect:

First image: 1944 Albanian nationalism sponsored by Adolf Hitler; second image: 2001 Albanian nationalism sponsored by U.S.-led NATO. Notice that each shot just so happens to contain a member of the predominately Muslim contingent of the Albanian nationalists. I.e., common threads: nationalism, Fascism, Islam.

In Bosnia, the U.S. Air Force became Izetbegovic’s Islamist air force, while in Kosovo it became the KLA’s. Then again, the Balkan Muslims aren’t like “those” Muslims — so long as they’re only killing Serbs. Just like Palestinians, apparently, aren’t like “those” Muslims either. So long as they’re only killing Jews. Back to Deliso on this subject, and on what the Balkan future holds:

…[A]s everywhere else in the Balkans, the official Islamic community on occasion takes part in supporting radical groups. Wahhabis themselves implicate the IVZ itself [acronym for Macedonia’s official Islamic community] in sponsoring outside forms of Islam…In conversation, most officials state that their goal is merely to uphold the tradition of Ottoman Islam of the Hanafi school. However, this is not exactly the truth. This and other evidence confirm that certain factions of the IVZ would like to see foreign varieties of Islam take root in Macedonia. It is also indisputable that senior figures from within the IVZ supported, in one form or another, the Izetbegovic government’s radical Islamist policies in Bosnia during the 1990s.

Albanians, whether from Albania, Kosovo, or Macedonia, have scoffed at the idea of a major religious fundamentalist incursion in their midst. So have their Western yes-men. The West heavily backed the Kosovo Liberation Army during the NATO bombing, despite the presence of mujahedin in its ranks, and for Western publics to suspect that this cause has been muddled up with an Islamist one would amount to a public relations disaster for both Clinton-era political veterans and for the Albanians themselves. Indeed, it would call into question the entire rationale for Western intervention in Kosovo.

Already, Balkan Muslims have started to reappraise their opinions, taking a more mistrustful stance towards an America that has [supposedly] declared war on Muslims and [toward] the European countries that continue to deport them and deny them visas. Further, the foreign Islamists’ increasing success in making Balkan Muslims sympathize with the suffering of Muslims in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, and Afghanistan increase the risks that the former will become more active in future terrorist plots on the West. The pace with which these trends are coming together is striking. From the Albanian pastry chef who gleefully mocked the Bush administration and death of Americans in Iraq back in 2003 and to the Macedonian Muslim imam adamant on forcibly creating a caliphate in Europe, from the Bosnian student certain that Israel and the United States were behind every evil in the world and to the usually placid Serbian Muslim who vowed to become a suicide bomber should the United States invade Iran in 2006, this author has seen and heard many things that, when corroborated by the factual data disclosed in this book, would seem to indicate that perilous times lie ahead for the West in the battle with Islamic extremism — and that a big part of this threat involves the Balkans. The fact that through two decades of intervention, inattention, and criminal complicity the West has brought this scourge upon itself is, unfortunately, the most damning indictment of all.

In closing, below is part of a letter sent to me by a reader who ran for congressional office in Massachusetts, who seems to understand the big picture with only a fraction of the facts that the “experts” and Albanians themselves use to cloud everyone’s minds including their own:

If Muslims were the primary victims in Kosovo then something doesn’t seem right in the facts on the ground.
Could it be that had we attempted to defend both Christians and Muslims in Kosovo from each other rather than generally picking the side of the Muslims, we would have then discovered the Muslims were by far the more dangerous enemy?

Likewise could it be that our casualties were low simply because the Serbs did not enjoy an international network of support funded by overpriced OPEC oil?

I served in a war zone too over in Vietnam between 1967 and 1968. I met many friendly South Vietnamese whom I am reasonably sure were pro-American and for freedom, yet there were enough dissenters (the VC) who with outside help eventually brought a one-party tyranny to South Vietnam. My guess is that something similar is going on in Kosovo.

I do hope there are plans to return the 200,000 Serbian Christians to their homes in Kosovo and plans to protect them from their Muslim neighbors. But I guess we’ll see how much political clout the oil-poor Serbians have versus the well-funded Muslim Kosovo activists.

This post also describes the Balkan nationalist-Islamic morphing, as does this one.