January 23rd 2009 05:40:49 AM
Quote of the year, from Robert Spencer commenting on the recent NY Times article “Islamic Revival Tests Bosnia’s Secular Cast”:
Bosnia is flooded with Wahhabis and Saudi money, mosques and madrasas are springing up everywhere, women are in hijabs — but no worries. Bosnia is a secular, moderate Muslim country and will stay that way, and you better not dare to take too much notice of its rapid descent into jihadist fanaticism, unless you want to be labeled a neofascist supporter of Serbian genocide!
Such febrile fantasies and frequently libelous charges hurled against critics of the spread of jihadism in the Balkans, even by some who claim to oppose the global jihad, continue to prevent a sober analysis of what is happening there. And they help enable the jihadists to continue their work there unhindered, enjoying even the support of the abysmally clueless State Department.
I’ll excerpt from the International Herald Tribune’s version of the Times article:
SARAJEVO: As several thousand worshipers streamed into the imposing King Fahd Mosque on a recent Friday, a young man sat outside selling a popular conservative Muslim magazine with President-elect Barack Obama’s image on the cover.
“Hussein, Will Your America Kill Muslims?” the headline asked, using Obama’s middle name, a source of pride for many Muslims here.
More than half a dozen new madrasas, or religious high schools, have been built in recent years, while dozens of mosques have sprouted, including the King Fahd, a sprawling €20 million, or $28 million, complex with a sports and cultural center.
Before the war, fully covered women and men with long beards were almost unheard of. Today, they are commonplace.
Many here welcome the Muslim revival as a healthy assertion of identity in a multiethnic country where Muslims make up close to half of the population. But others warn of a growing culture clash between conservative Islam and Bosnia’s avowed secularism in a fragile state.
Two months ago, men in hoods attacked participants at a gay festival in Sarajevo, dragging some people from vehicles and beating others, while they chanted “Kill the gays!” and “Allahu Akbar!” Eight people were hurt.
Muslim religious leaders complained that the event, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, was a provocation. The organizers said they sought to promote minority rights and meant no offense.
In this cosmopolitan capital, where bars have long outnumbered mosques, Muslim religious education was recently introduced in state kindergartens, prompting some secular Muslim parents to complain that the separation between mosque and state was being breached.
In Sarajevo, a predominantly Muslim city, dozens of streets named after communist revolutionaries were renamed after Muslim heroes, and political parties stressing Muslim identity gained large constituencies.
Muharem Bazdulj, deputy editor of the daily Oslobodjenje, the voice of liberal, secular Bosnia, said he feared the growth of Wahhabism…Analysts say Saudi-funded organizations have invested €500 million [700 million dollars] in Bosnia since the war, often in mosquies.
Wahhabism arrived via hundreds of warriors from the Arab world during the war and with Arab humanitarian and charity workers since, though sociologists here stress that most Bosnian Muslims still believe that Islam has no place in public life.
“Children are fasting on Ramadan, going to the mosque more than their parents,” he said. “We had de-Islamification for 40 years during Tito’s time, so it is natural that people are now embracing the freedom to express their religion.”
Some critics of the mufti argue that he has allowed religion to encroach on civic life.
And look here — it takes a half-Serb, half-Muslim wife of a part-Jew, part-Catholic, part-Serb to take on Islam in the Balkans:
Vedrana Pinjo-Neuschul, who comes from a mixed Serb and Muslim household, has led the fight against Islamic classes in state-financed kindergartens across Sarajevo. Parents may remove their children from the religious classes, said Pinjo-Neuschul, whose husband is part Jewish, Catholic and Serb, adding that the policy would stigmatize non-Muslim children.
She recently withdrew her two young children from a public kindergarten and gathered 5,000 signatures against the policy, which has also been criticized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Vienna-based group monitoring democracy.
“I do not want to explain to my 14-year-old son, Sven, who is in love with his Muslim classmate Esma, why
they suddenly have to sit in different rooms,” she said at a Jewish community center in Sarajevo. “Nobody has the right to separate them.”
But she says she has been harassed by Islamic radicals on the street and had received hate mail in Arabic. “There are some people who want to turn Bosnia into a Muslim state,” she said.
(NEWSFLASH: It takes until 2009 to figure out what 1992-95 was about.)
…Milorad Dodik, prime minister of Bosnia’s Serb Republic, has referred to Sarajevo as the new “Tehran,” and talks of a “political Islam and a fight against people who don’t share the same vision.”
But Muslim leaders and most Western analysts here counter such assertions, saying they do not correspond to Bosnia’s secular reality and are part of an attempt by Serb nationalists to justify the brutal wartime subjugation of Muslims by both Serbs and Croats.
In case you thought Spencer was exaggerating!
As he closed his item on this: “And stateside, those who oppose the spread of the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism in the Balkans are similarly tarred — but that doesn’t stop the jihadization of the Balkans.”
In its summary of the NY Times piece, IslamOnline wrote:
Since the country’s 1992-1995 war ended, Bosnia has seen an Islamic revival in an assertion of the country’s identity. Several Islamic schools and mosques have been built in recent years.
Beard-wearing men and hijab-clad women have also become common in the multi-ethnic country. Before the war, beard-wearing men and veiled women were almost unheard of. In the cosmopolitan capital Sarajevo, Islamic education has been introduced in state kindergartens. Dozens of streets named after Communist revolutionaries have also been renamed after Muslim heroes. Political parties stressing Muslim identity have also won big in elections.
Yet guess who STILL feels besieged in Sarajevo. You got it — the Muslims. Why? Because there are still non-Muslims in sight:
The 1995 Dayton peace accord ended the war by splitting Bosnia into two ethnically-based autonomous regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic.
“We Bosnian Muslims still feel besieged in the city of Sarajevo,” said Ceric.
Besieged. See the last section of this piece for a description of today’s Sarajevo.