Another case of ‘Islam is Islam and that’s it’.
OMG! What to do, what to do? What happened to all the interfaith, outreach & diversity programs?
Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the way to becoming an Islamic centre based on the template of the Iranian capital Tehran. Under the eyes of the Wahhabist-oriented religious leader, the senior mufti Reis Ulema Mustafa Ceric, who has long been considered a pioneer of a European, moderate Islam, believers in other faiths and even moderate Muslims are persecuted, discriminated and threatened. After civil war, genocide and then peace, the city of many peoples is threatened with falling into the hands of militant Muslims and also missing out on the link-up to Europe.
Sarajevo’s moderate education minister, Emir Suljagic, has already announced his resignation after he received a death threat accompanied by a 7.23 calibre bullet, because he wanted to keep education secular. Since then, he has been in fear for his life.
Muslims Receiving Money for Membership in Wahhabi Movement: Â “Wahhabism Wages: Monthly, Each Wahhabi Receives 300 Euros, Each Woman 400 Euros”
The re-islamisation trend is documented most strikingly by new street signs. In Sarajevo alone, within one day 500 place and street names were changed, removing all references to non-Islamic luminaries. Ceric wants Bosnia to be placed completely under the rule of sharia. With the demand he has already made for a European imamate, he points to his future political objectives.
With its 300,000 inhabitants, the city Sarajevo is already 98% populated by followers of the prophet. In total, more than two million Muslims live in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The total population size if around 4.6 million. With ever greater self-confidence, the Muslims are putting believers in other faiths under pressure and attempting to drive out Catholic and Orthodox Serbs and Croats:Â Christian nuns are no longer served by Muslim bakers in Sarajevo, churches are attacked (the Catholic St. Luke’s church just on 22 May).
It is now an open secret that this renaissance of orthodox Islam is promoted by millions of dollars from the Arabian Gulf states, above all from Saudi Arabia. Already, there are 70 mosques in Sarajevo. Mostar is ever more breaking up into a Muslim eastern district and a western district where the Catholic Croats live. But even the Muslim community itself is ever more sharply split into liberals and radical “orthodox thinkers”. There have already been mass battles.
The advance of the radical holy warriors began in the 1990s thanks to the arrival of 2000 fighters from the Arab lands, including the founder of the radical terror group Abu Sayyaf on the Philippinen. After they had married local women, several hundred of the fighters remained in the country despite a withdrawal authorised after the peace agreement. Today they form the core of the Wahhabist influence, build mosques with Saudi support (like the imposing King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo), and are bringing about a radicalisation of the other Muslims. The movement’s strongpoints are in east Bosnia and the capital Sarajevo.Â An illegal sharia police persecutes couples kissing in public or in parks.Â
“They are now firmly anchored in our media, our religious administration and in the academic authorities, our mosques, our Koran schools, our scholarship, just everywhere,” the theologian Resid Hafizovic complained a few years back and pointed out that the Wahhabists wanted to operate the so-called Devshirme. This custom originating in the Ottoman empire institutionalises the forced recruitment and islamisation of non-believers, male youths and children, in order to train them into elite warriors.Â
The Bosnian Interior Minister Maria Fekter is fighting against these undercurrents. She wants to promote a “European Islam”, establish equality between man and woman and refers constantly to the symbolic bridge of Mostar. It links Christendom and Islam, Catholic and Orthodox. Only intercultural dialogue can stabilise the young state, she postulated recently. It remains to be seen when she, too, will receive a letter with a bullet enclosed.
A BALKAN BLOWBACK: SAUDI RADICALIZATION IN BOSNIA AND BEYONDÂ
(RIEAS Senior Analyst)
On October 1, 2006, on occasion of Eid Al-Adha, the leader of the Bosnia’s Islamic community, Mustafa Ceric had the following recommendations for the European Union:
“Europe has no choice but to begin the process of institutionalizing Islam…to integrate into European society as dedicated Muslims and good citizens of the European Union, Europe must open itself to Muslims and look beyond the fear-provoking image’ to see the ‘spiritual and cultural face of Islam.’
In Bosnia itself however, the increasing presence of pockets of Islamic radicalism has caused Bosnians themselves to be concerned with the intimidating yet informal ‘institutionalization’ of Wahabi Islam. According to Christopher Deliso, author of the seminal The Coming Balkan Caliphate: The Threat of Radical Islam to Europe and the West,Â ‘By the mid 2005, Bosnia’s strategic value to major international terrorist groups was no longer merely as a logistical base and terrorist transfer zone. Bosnia had instead become both a staging post for terrorist attacks in Europe and a target for attacks itself.’ Indeed, the train bombings in Madrid deeply implicated Bosnia, with the Spanish investigators mentioning Bosnia no less than 300 times in their indictment.
As Lorretta Napoleoni points out, ‘Saudi Arabia and Iran saw in the Balkans an ideal hub from where to challenge Europe’ and no opportunity was more golden than the Yugoslav wars to achieve this aim: ‘Wahabi religious colonization was planned across a wider frontier stretching from Central Asia to the Balkans’ leaving the Balkans today with,
‘an unfolding situation in which small groups of local but globally connected fundamentalists supported by wealthy foreign organizations and state sponsors, gravitate towards existing and newly forming terrorist entities abroad, while at the same time making strong and unprecedented challenges to the social order in Balkan areas with Muslim populations, thus introducing a whole new dimension to political issues and social policies.’
Indeed, writing over 15 years ago in September 30, 1994 during the Bosnian conflict, the co-founder of The Lord Byron Foundation and the former advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Sir Alfred Sherman presciently warned that the objective of the Islamists is ‘to create a Green Corridor from Bosnia through the Sanjak to Kosovo’ that would effectively separate Serbia from Montenegro.’
Vojin Joksimovich further elaborates on what evolved in Bosnia under the tacit approval of the Clinton administration during the wars of disintegration: “Bosnia established a successful model for embattled countries around the world: organizing, arming, and funding mujahideen units, skimming money from humanitarian charities, linking up with crime bosses including narco-terrorists, etc.Â Islamism both produces and profits from mayhem.Â Albeit to a much lesser magnitude, the Bosnian model was replicated later on in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and FYROM.Â Al Qaeda and the Taliban found a route for the heroin trafficking from Afghanistan into Europe via the Balkans.”
What is the ‘Green Corridor’? According to Srdja Trifkovic in his ‘U.S. Policy and Geopolitics of Jihad: The Green Corridor in the Balkans,’ The ‘Green Corridor,’ also known as the Green Transverse, is a geopolitical concept that has been used in two distinct yet interconnected meanings:
1. ‘To define the long-term goal of Islamist ideologues, both in the Balkans and in the wider Muslim world, to create a geographically contiguous chain of majority- Muslim or Muslim-dominated polities that will extend from Turkey in the southeast to the northwestern-most point of Bosnia
2. To illustrate the ongoing process of increasing ethno-religious self-assertiveness among major traditionally Muslim communities in the Balkans that would cause:
a) Expanding the geographic area of their demographic dominance;
b) Establishing and/or expanding various entities under Muslim political control with actual or potential claim to sovereign statehood;
c) Enhancing the dominant community’s Islamic character and identity within those entities, with the parallel decrease of presence and power of non-Muslim groups; and
d) Prompting Muslim communities’ ambitions for ever bolder designs in the future, even at the risk of conflict with their non-Muslim neighbors. Giving some clarity to this concept is essential to a comprehensive’ understanding of the motives, actions, and emerging expectations of different actors in the Yugoslav wars in general and the ongoing Kosovo crisis in particular.’
This ‘project of Islamic colonization of the Balkans’ has largely been sponsored by Saudi Arabian petrodollars. According to Bojan Pancevski in his article Saudis Fund Balkan Muslims Spreading Hate of the West’ Saudi organisations have given more than Â£450m to build more than 150 mosques and Islamic centres in Bosnia where imams preach a radicalizing Wahabi and Salafi version if Islam that sits at odds with the more moderate and indigenous Islam of Bosnians. In fact, Macedonian officials concerned with the threat Islamic radicalism poses to the stability of the Balkans are currently investigating a number of Islamic charities active in the Balkans and some in Saudi Arabia, which are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.
Certainly, Saudi Arabia has consistently and globally exported the same brand of radicalizing ideology that sees ‘desperate Muslim housewives’ such as Colleen La Rose turn into a ‘Jihad Jane’ -joining the ranks of other homegrown terrorists that go on to partake in acts of terror against their host country and abroad and defy the typical profile of ‘young male of middle eastern origin.’ Concurring with terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky, over a decade ago in January 1999, the Naqshbandi Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani declared in a State Department Open Forum that Islamic supremacists controlled most mosques in America:
“The most dangerous thing that is going on now in these mosques…like churches they were established by different organizations and that is ok â€“ but the problem with our communities is the extremist ideology. Because they are very active they took over the mosques; and we can say that they took over more than 80% of the mosques that have been established in the US. And there are more than 3000 mosques in the US. So it means that the methodology or ideology of extremist has been spread to 80% of the Muslim population, but not all of them agree with it.”
Over the past three decades, Saudi Arabia has invested an estimated $70-80 billion in this endeavor to spread its belligerent ideologies beyond its borders. In 2005, in a 95-page report titled Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques, The Center for Religious Freedom revealed that it had discovered a staggering distribution of hateful jihadist and Islamic supremacist material in mosques across the United States.
If, according the Steve Emerson, the three primary ingredients of terrorism is indoctrination, recruitment and financing, continuing ignorance or toleration of Saudi funding of radical ideology in the United States or the Balkans can only herald a bitter and entrenched blowback that would be all the more difficult to fight.