Bosnia-Herzegovina / Places We Go

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

I put off working on this one for a while because this is a damned complicated conflict and I knew it would be a lot of work to try and present an accurate description of events. However, it is time to tackle the Bosnia conflict…

Now, if you just want to look at pictures or you consider yourself an expert, feel free to jump down and skip the text below. However, I put a lot of work into writing this and I think in the final product I have done a respectable job of explaining the conflict in an understandable and unbiased fashion. So, if you wish to hear an impression of the causes and the conflict from an independent source, please continue reading:

Croats, Serbs and Muslims have a particular history and cultural background, but they are all South Slavs and speak essentially the same language. Their chief distinguishing characteristic is religious. Croats are Roman Catholics; Serbs are Orthodox Christians; and Muslims are generally descended from those Slavs who converted to Islam during the 500-year Ottoman occupation.

The stage was set for conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina when the Serbian propaganda machine shifted its focus from the mythical Ustasha hordes of Croatia (following the declaration of independence from Yugoslavia of Croatia) to the mythical Islamic fundamentalist threat. Bear in mind though that Bosnia’s Muslim population, especially after 50 years of socialism, was mainly secular and very pro-European.

Representing 44% majority of the country’s population, Bosnian Muslims feared that both Serbian and Croatian lust to take Bosnia and Herzegovina would leave them nation-less. For years they were sandwiched between the power struggles of Croatian and Slovenia on one hand and Serbia on the other.

As was done in Slovenia and Croatia (which led to declarations of independence for both), a referendum for independence was held in Bosnia in March 1992. The Bosnian Croats and Muslims were among the 65% of Bosnia’s population who voted in favor, while a majority of the Serbian population boycotted the vote. Despite Serbian threats, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence. The day the results were announced Serb paramilitary forces set up barricades and sniper posts near the parliament building in Sarajevo. On the 6th of April 1992 the European Union and the United Nations recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. On the same day the JNA (Yugoslav National Army) and Serbian paramilitaries attacked Sarajevo. Tens of thousands of Sarajevans of all nationalities took to the streets to protest in front of the barricades. As they peacefully marched towards the barricade a sniper from the hill fired into the crowd, killing a Serbian woman from Sarajevo and a Muslim girl from Dubrovnik. This sparked the beginning of what would be a long and brutal campaign against Bosnia’s populations.

As the West struggled to make sense of the Bosnian conflict, Serbian paramilitaries (grouped under the banner of the “Serb Volunteer Guard”) had already moved into northeastern Bosnia. Led by Zeljko Raznatovic (aka Arkan) and his Tigers of Serbia, they began to systematically terrorize, loot and kill non-Serbs. The goal was to conquer territories to the west in order to link them to the breakaway Serb region in Croatia and extend south all along the border with Serbia (thus linking the Serbian areas and securing supply lines).

The psychology of convincing the local Serb population that they were under threat was a decisive factor in turning the Bosnian Serbs against their neighbors. Months of television reports warned Serbs of Croatian fascists and an impending Muslim jihad. The fighting in Croatia, for example, was often portrayed by the Belgrade-run Radio Television as a repeat slaughter by the Utasha regime that had killed so many Serbs in World War II. It was easy to manipulate and scare the largely uneducated peasant Serb population of eastern Bosnia.

At their peak, the Serbs had linked with their brothers in arms in the Croatian Krajina and the Slavonia region in eastern Croatia, and the realization of a Greater Serbia was in sight. At this point Milosevic had gained much of what he and Serbs saw as Serbian land, and his tactics changed to political maneuvering to secure his new-found Serbian state.

**

Characters like Arkan get most of the press because of their talent for self-promotion. But, there are plenty of characters such as Major Rajko Kusic that were in the field as well.

Journalist Kim Willsher does a far better job than I could of summing up Rajko Kusic:

…known as the Butcher of Rogatica, and little more than a jumped-up thug. Kusic, a short, dumpy man with a droopy moustache, was not a professional soldier, but a militiaman in charge of an armed gang of ethnic cleansers. Before the war he worked as a foreman in an engineering factory at Rogatica, but when the conflict erupted he organised an irregular force of local Serbs known as the Rogatica Mountain Brigade.

A classic tin-pot brigand, he would swagger around armed with a pump-action shotgun, flanked by bandolier-swathed militiamen clutching heavy machineguns, terrorising local Muslims. As the Serb ethnic-cleansing juggernaut thundered across Bosnia leaving thousands of dead and dispossessed in its wake, Kusic rounded up Rogatica’s Muslims and gave them a choice. Stay or go. In fact, there was no choice. Those who elected to remain in the homes their families had lived in for generations were herded into the town’s sawmill and slowly fed into the jaws of the spinning blades.

Those who decided to leave were given an hour’s head start, then hunted down like animals by Kusic’s men with dogs. When caught they were crucified on trees. ‘That,’ added the British source, `is how Kusic does business. It was a bloody nightmare for every-one including the British soldiers who came across him.’

Rajko Kusic remains wanted for war crimes following investigation of his activities in Rogatica. At the end of 2004 reports said that he had turned up in the war in Chechnya, sent there by the Russian secret services at the head of a group of Serbs. His current whereabouts are unknown to The Velvet Rocket staff.

And then there were the rape camps that the Serbs operated throughout Bosnia as part of their ethnic cleansing campaign… The largest rape camp was at the Partizan Sports Complex in the town of Foca, where thousands of Bosnian women were systematically brutalized.

I could go on and on…

Don’t think that it was just Serbs that were unpleasant though. Many in Bosnia-Herzegovina fell prey to the ruthless desire of the majority ethnic group in one region to evict minority groups. That was the policy of the Serbs in many parts of Bosnia; but the same policy was clearly being pursued by Muslims in areas like Gorazde and by Croats in areas such as Mostar.

During the initial stages of the Balkans conflict, the perceived indifference of the West, led the leader of the Bosnian Muslims, Alija Izetbegovic to appeal to Muslim states for assistance. Iran and Saudi Arabia responded happily and helped circumvent an embargo that was preventing Bosnia from legally arming itself. Funds from Iran were channeled through the Iranian embassies in Sarajevo and Vienna, and according to several sources, arms deals were arranged there. The airfield at Visoko, northwest of Sarajevo, served as a secret landing place for arms shipments from Iran, bringing light arms, anti-aircraft ammunition and antitank missiles to Muslim fighters in the growing civil war.

According to British intelligence reports, some two hundred advisers from the Iranian Republican Guard were in Bosnia during that period, and from 1,000 to 3,000 volunteers – including some from Hezbollah – came to help the Muslims. At first they fought as disorganized militias; but soon a special unit was established for the volunteers: the al-Mujahid Brigade, part of the 7th Division of the Bosnian army’s Third Corps.

Some one thousand of these foreign volunteers allegedly remained in Bosnia after the war. Some were in the cities and villages; others established their own communities, taking in hundreds of local supporters and building an infrastructure based solely on Sharia law. In the village of Bocina, for example, the mujahideen fighters settled in the homes of Christians who had been driven out, and instituted a strict religious regime, closer to that of Taliban-controlled villages in Afghanistan than to anything in twenty-first century Europe.

The networks set up by the Revolutionary Guards of Iran in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia and Albania, are certainly still active. For example: An indictment was submitted in 2003 against three former senior officials of Bosnian intelligence (AID), including its former chief Bakir Alispahic, and two of his top aides, who were charged with maintaining illegal links with the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, selling secrets to Tehran and planning terror operations.

During the investigation, authorities uncovered a damning load of evidence in the small village of Pogorelica. There, in an enormous wooden hut, which from the outside looks like a ski lodge, the Bosnian intelligence chiefs were alleged to have run their own private school for terror, under Iranian sponsorship.

Inside this hut there were classrooms and a large armory containing explosives, pistols, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, grenades and ammunition ranging from Russian AK-47s with regular rounds to rifles with telescopic sights and silencers, dumdum bullets and unmarked magazines, preventing the owners from being traced.

And just last month on February 2nd, Bosnian anti-terror police raided the northeastern Bosnian village of Gornja Maoca. Bosnia’s largest Wahabi community lives in Gornja Maoca which is near the northeastern town of Brcko. The residents are farmers who refuse to watch television or use telephones (Editor’s note: That doesn’t sound so bad). They say they do not like to mix with anyone outside of their community. Their children do not attend public schools — itself a violation of the Bosnian laws.

The villagers were accused of “jeopardising Bosnia’s constitutional order and spreading national, racial and religious hatred,” the Bosnian prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Police also said they uncovered a large quantity of weapons from a number of buildings searched during the raids.

Later in the month, it was announced that among those arrested was a former Bosnian Army commander, 51-year-old Zulfikar Alispago, whose unit allegedly killed 19 civilians and three soldiers during an attack on the Bosnian Croat village of Trusina, south of Sarajevo, during the war.

Conclusion At The Bottom

****

Visit Sarajevo today and it would not be a surprise to have your first impression be that this city has fully recovered from the violence and deprivations of the 1990s:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Kazandziluk Street is a famous trading place for coppersmiths on the west side of Bascarsija and Sebilj Square. Here you can find great antiques, hand-carved copper dishes and oriental decor on offer.

Over one million projectiles from mortars and artillery pounded Sarajevo during its 1,400-day siege. So, what did the craftsmen do with all of the spent cartridges? They carved beautiful designs on them and now offer them for sale:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo is sometimes called the Jerusalem of the Balkans. It’s at the crossroads of the West and the East, a place where Islam meets Christianity.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Bosnian government building:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

This guy could do incredible things with that soccer ball:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

These guys were amazingly fast… They’d probably beat me in under five moves:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

This building is efficiently named the Old Synagogue:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Seems serene and charming, doesn’t it?

But then you start noticing blast damage like this on many of the buildings:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

And more and more structures that still look like this:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Firearms are still readily available:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

And there are still plenty of soldiers about:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Toward the end of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Markale market on Mula Mustafe Basekije was mortared, allegedly, by the Bosnian Serbs. Although today it is a bustling market it was this massacre that killed over 60 civilians and convinced the Clinton administration to push for air strikes. Within months of the Markale massacre all parties were at the peace table and the Dayton Accords were signed soon after.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Alipasina Mosque was one of the most dangerous spots during the war.  Hastily made blinds of sheets, bombed-out buses and whatever was available were placed near the mosque to block the view of snipers:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Food, ammunition and supplies were brought to Sarajevo by its only self-sustaining lifeline – a 700-yard tunnel that ran under the UN-controlled airport. Sarajevo’s population was forced to live with little food and water, no electricity and under constant sniper and artillery fire for over 1,200 days. Some 10,000 civilians were killed in Sarajevo while it was under so-called UN protection.

It was on these hills surrounding Sarajevo that the Bosnian Serbs placed their snipers, mortars and artillery with such devastating effectiveness:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

The Iranian influence mentioned in my opening is both covert and overt:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Informed readers will recall that Sarajevo was at the center of a war more than once in the last century…

This bridge pictured below used to be unofficially named Princip’s Bridge, but was changed in 1993 to the more politically palatable name of “Latinska Bridge”.  You see, it was here that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife were traveling when the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip shot and killed them both on June 28th, 1914.  The assassination sparked Austria to declare war on Serbia.  Russia immediately sided with the Serbs and World War I was game on.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Bosnia

The bridge gets all of the attention because it is more picturesque, but the actual assassination spot was this corner pictured here next to the bridge:

Sarajevo, Bosnia

****

During the 1992-1995 Bosnian war 150,000 to 200,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.

In this war there were no winners. Everyone lost and most people in Bosnia-Herzegovina feel their respective ethnic group is the victim.

In the case of the Bosnian Serbs, they saw the Croatian model as a sign of what was to come should Bosnia become an independent state. The Serbs, with the unhealed wounds of the Jasenovac concentration camp of World War II and the deaths of large numbers of Serbs, favored Yugoslavia remaining intact. Most of them were born in Yugoslavia and it was the only country they (and others) knew. The Bosnian Serbs did not see Yugoslavia as being dominated by Serbia as other ethnic groups did. They saw it as a multi-ethnic state comprised of six republics, all of which had fair and equal representation. To them, and fairly so, it was logical to support and “defend” the country they were born in. They saw the rise of Croatian nationalism and the rise of the Muslim SDA party as a direct threat to them. When the JNA supported the Serbs, it was seen as the legitimate government of Yugoslavia defending its citizens and its territory. To many of them it was very much as if California had declared independence and the federal government sent troops in to quell the rebellion. Therefore, they saw military operations by the JNA and Bosnian Serbs as defensive in nature.

The Bosnian Croat point of view, obviously, differed significantly. The Croats who had once had significant numbers throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, had seen their numbers drastically reduced throughout history – from the Ottoman and Partisan eras. The Croats, many of whom sided with Hitler in World War II, suffered greatly in defeat. They viewed the early years of Tito’s regime as brutal and murderous. Many Croatian areas viewed by the Partisans as being loyal to the Ustasha and the fascist state, were heavily persecuted and were denied many of the development programs that Tito’s Yugoslavia implemented. This sentiment remains quite heavy in western Herzegovina even today. The Croats strongly felt under-represented in business, government, police and the military and that the Serbs were over-represented. When Croatia proper voted for independence, it was only natural for them to do the same. They viewed Herceg-Bosna, an autonomous Croatian state, as a way to protect their identity and join with Croatia and fit into the majority.

The Bosnian Muslims were caught in the middle of these two nationalist sentiments. The Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) were and are largely a secular Muslim community. They are mostly Slavs, share the same language and a similar identity with their Croatian and Serbian neighbors. They, however, did not have a “reserve” country. Bosnia-Herzegovina was and is the homeland. Whereas much sentiment of the Bosnian Serbs bends toward Belgrade and the Bosnian Croats toward Zagreb, the Bosniaks knew that Sarajevo was their capital and Bosnia-Herzegovina their only country. The Bosnian Muslims were literally stuck in a violent tug-of-war.

 

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13 thoughts on “Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

  1. Pingback: The Truth About Serbia « The Velvet Rocket

  2. Pingback: Mostar, Bosnia « The Velvet Rocket

  3. So first off, I’m getting so SICK and tired of americans thinking they have the right to comment and say things involving Bosnia. I’m 22 years old and I’m Croatian from northern Bosnia. Don’t blame the whole serbian and croatian race for something a few people did. ALSO, the muslims were NOT innocent. We were forced out of our homes (my family) by muslims and they burned down all my aunts, uncles and grand parents homes. There is no innocence in bosnia, if you want to blog about something blog about the issues in the USA. Its a war zone in every city with your gangster black people. I lived in Bosnia, Germany and now the USA. Everytime I visit bosnia each year its a breathe of fresh air, I feel safe and secure and not worried about some black person robbing me on chicago’s EL train, or getting gang jumped, beat up or shot. There are hundreds of thousands of multiracial people in bosnia, people are are half serbian and muslim, half croatian and serbian, half croatian and half muslims. Even some gypsies blended. Stop talking propaganda and talk about the future of bosnia. Muslims are not innocent and I’m sick of the media and uninformed people like you making them out to be victims. Each side was equally bad, all muslims talk about is Srebrenica, what about the rest of the people murdered? Not all 100k were muslims. STOP ALL THESE LIES, I AM SICK OF PEOPLE ASSUMING THEY KNOW ANYTHING WHEN THEY DON’T IN MY CITY IN BOSNIA WE GOT ALONG ALL OUR SERB, CROAT AND MUSLIM NEIGHBORS SO STOP SPREADING LIES IM SICK OF AMERICAN TRASH TRYING TO BASH SERB AND CROAT PEOPLE WHEN AMERICA IS THE WORST GHETTO IN THE WORLD AND IS AND ALWAYS WILL REMAIN A WAR ZONE, IF YOU WANT TO HELP HUMANITY SEND ALL YOUR BLACKS BACK TO AFRICA!

    also please include the details about the middle east coming in and brutally killing anyone and everyone in their sight, even children and women. talk about those terrorists

    i am american now and have the american outlook and honestly, we are all equal in our actions and there is no innocence in bosnia.

    inform yourself of the truth before you spread lies.

    • Marko if you feel safe in Bosnia and also if USA is ghetto why do you live there you should go back to your hometown…

    • First off, there is no need to flame like that. Or bash someone -with caps- when they are simply stating their own opinion on the issue. Heck, there is always someone who will disagree with you on certain issues no matter what. Doesn’t it seem a bit childish when you’re overreacting like this? Just take it as someone’s thoughts.

      Second, the author is not assuming – think of it as an informed opinon or something like that – I’m sure before writing this post he would have gathered information on the issue. If the info is incorrect, then correct it. If you’re accusing him of lies, then inform him of the truth politely. It is not really civil of you to act like this.

      Thirdly, there are quite a few racist comments. What do you have against blacks? What is wrong with African Americans living in America? They are not the only racial group to commit crimes, at least. To simply take out all your anger on them is a very unfair and racist thing for you to do. If you dislike America this much no one is stopping you from returning to your beloved homeland.

      o.O
      Please be civil. This is simply someone’s opinion on the Bosnia issue.

  4. “I think in the final product I have done a respectable job of explaining the conflict in an understandable and unbiased fashion.

    You may think such… but you have not been unbiased.

    • Eh, I am not really impressed, Ken. Why don´t you provide some
      specific examples and then maybe I can take your comment seriously?

  5. I sent you an email (at your gmail account) earlier today , September 8, thanking you for this blog which I stumbled upon this morning. I was in Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and B&H this summer. Nothing has ever moved me as much Mostar. I have so many questions. You have answered many, but the main question remains unanswered (maybe because of my ignorance/ stupidity), but WHO started the crap between Islam and Christianity? I have no idea. Deep in my heart I believe (without any proof) BOTH parties are guilty and, having witnessed the beauty and destruction of Mostar, side by side, I just want it all to stop. Once again, thank you so much for explaining to a layman what the war was all about. God knows, based on my travels, Yugoslavia had to be the most beautiful country in the world!

    • Hi Krisjan –

      Thank you for your comment. I never received the email you say you sent earlier, but I’d love to read it. Would you mind trying to send it again?

      In response to your question, your heart was right on this one… Although the extremists on all sides will vehemently disagree, this was a conflict without many good guys. This was a vicious war and each party did unpleasant things.

      I agree with you completely on the beauty of the former Yugoslavia. Did you see my post on the M-5 in Bosnia? Really beautiful scenery along that route… If you go back, Albania and Macedonia have some gorgeous scenery as well.

  6. Thank you for this post.Im from Sarajevo,but dont live there for 3 yrs since ive got married. been there for all war on “muslim side” as most of serbs call that part,but they do not understand that Sarajevo is city for all of people,no matter what your name is,what color your skin is…we have one sentence…if you ever drink same water on bascarsija,youll came back for more.Thank you for being “ours” even for just a little while. regards from novi sad,serbia.

    • No kidding the guns are toys, dude. It’s a joke…

      Biased? Against whom? Without any specifics that doesn’t carry much weight. Give me an example (or examples) of something I’ve got wrong.

      I don’t have a stake in this conflict and those that make accusations about bias almost always do. So, again, give me something about Bosnia or Serbia or Sarajevo that I’ve got factually incorrect and I’ll change it immediately.

  7. Hi Justin,

    This morning, I stumbled upon this text on Bosnia which seems to have been made on a thorough research. I also understand why you have certain points of view on Bosnian issues, but would like you and other non-Bosnians to pay attention to specific facts which most, unfortunately, mistake.

    Now, first of all, I’ve noticed that you used the term ‘Muslims’ when referring to the Bosnian ethnic group whose major religion is Islam. As you all know, Balkans, Ex-Yu – it’s all a very complicated world in social, religious, political and cultural respect. Therefore, in order to at least superficially understand the whole situation, one need explore not only what has happened in the last century, but in the last millennium or even further. And I’m not joking. Slavic tribes started settling these areas in 7th c., but only as guests to the indigenous Celtic and Illyrian people. Now, if you want to check the following information, you can find facts on Balkan genetics online, but what I am sure of is that Celtic and Illyrian tribes didn’t suffer a demise here (at least, not completely) – a study shows that more than 50% of Bosnian population has Illyrian ancestry. But let me get back to the Slaves. They came, settled, worshiped their deities and established countries. With the spread of Christianity, they accepted it and there emerged a new set of Christian countries with distinct names in many respects. You can easily check up what the political image of Balkans looked like seven hundreds years ago or so, and you’ll see Croatia, Bosnia, Zeta (Montenegro) and Serbia standing side by side as neighbours, but not united. As for the religious affiliation of the countries, Roman Catholicism was practised in Croatia, Orthodoxy in Zeta and Serbia and both churches were popular among Bosnia’s population. Very much like nowadays, right? Not really. There was no Islam. However, there was something else – the famous heretic church following the so-called Bogumilism which was practised in the Bosnian church. Do you get it know? If not, just continue reading.

    I don’t really like the job of convincing someone that Bosnia is a place of distinct nation and language, but let me give you a few basic and quick info on it. The name of Bosnia, as a country, was mentioned very specifically in many medieval texts as well as Bosnian language. There was a distinct Bosnian form of Cyrillic alphabet which continued to be used by Bosnians even after the Ottoman conquest. And, most importantly of all, the people of medieval Bosnia called themselves ‘Bošnjani’, which could be translated as ‘Bosnians’, even though it doesn’t refer to its contemporary meaning of ‘people living in Bosnia irrespectful of their ethnic or religious background’. The term ‘Bošnjani’ therefore, could be taken as the name of a nation equal in importance with Serbs, Croats and Montenegrins. Now, you might be wondering how come, then, that there were so many different religious currents among a single nation. My answer is, Bosnia is a weird place; the scholar explanation is something like this: Bosnia was on the strike of international interests. There was a Franciscan order established about 700 years ago (which is still active in spreading Roman Catholicism); Orthodoxy was kind of popular in the Balkans; and some people seem to have adopted Bogumilism very heartily, maybe because of its modest and generous principles, and maybe because of not fancying to be mainstream like their strictly-oriented neighbours. Whatever the case, the Pope didn’t like this very much, so he organised a little Crusade in order to show who’s the boss in the area. However, the Bosnian king which was in rule at the time announced that he (he was also a heretic) and his people will abandon their heretic faith, and so the Pope’s delegates left. But Bogumilism still didn’t. It was practised side by side with Orthodox and Catholic Christianity, with kings changing faith according to their taste. A sort of a halt was put to this playful religious shift when the Ottomans came. What happened upon their arrival is a funny part of Bosnia’s history: the king ousted; the queen fled to Dubrovnik and then to Rome (she was a devout Catholic) and her son and daughter accepted Islam after their uncle took them to Istanbul. Afterwards, queen Catherine wrote a will in which she stated that Bosnia is in the hands of the Vatican until their children converted back to Christianity (which they never did). Anyway, Turks were already ruling Bosnia. After the establishment of their authority, many censuses were conducted and a constant, but not so fast increase in the adoption of Islam ensued, mostly by the people who used to practise Bogumilism, which is explained by similar dogmatic points of Islam and the Bosnian church. Now, if some people would like to talk about how their nations were oppressed under the 400-year Ottoman rule, I understand them. But what I cannot get into my mind is how, if what they’re saying is true, all those churches – no, all those nations, languages (!) – belonging to the cultures of Christian Slaves survived. And I wonder if the Ottomans, in those 400 years, did at least part of what Serbs did in Bosnia in only three years (I will not state the number of victims killed, or mosques and other cultural objects destroyed), how many Christians in the Balkans would there be now, and how much of their cultural heritage? Moreover, is Turkish even spoken in the Balkans? I’m sure everyone has answers to these.
    When Turks were about to leave Bosnia, the people of this country (who were asked only about their religious affiliation when a census was being conducted and not about ethnicity), were left with no national orientation while all the other countries were experiencing an increase in ethnic consciousness: the people of Serbia were Serbs and spoke Serbian language; the people of Croatia were Croats and spoke Croatian. And who were those in Bosnia? What language did they speak (for God’s sake)? Croats and Serbs seem to have had an idea, so they sent some delegates in order to teach their neighbours how the low self-confidence is fixed. The following method was very efficient: if you’re Catholic, then you must be a Croat / if you’re Orthodox, then you are clearly a Serb. Practical, right? This principle is actually still used in order to explain how Bosniaks (the indigenous ethnic group whose motherland is Bosnia and whose members are mostly Muslims) are actually Turkish. However, one should not confuse ethnicity (which is related to genetics) and religion (which is completely optional). And I’m not referring to your usage of term ‘Muslims’, because you must have done it by mistake :)

    I must admit that I have digressed a bit from the topic, but this has been written not only as a response to your text on Bosnia, but also to other questions that might arise. The conclusion of what I’ve said is, firstly, not everything is as it seems and the people who have for about a century now been referred to as ‘Muslims’ are actually people who were once Christians, who are not converted Serbs or Croats, but a distinct ethnic group with their own language, culture, history. And please don’t get my remarks wrong or find them insulting; what I’m trying is fix the stereotypes of a nation which has been struggling to survive all the genocides, culturicides and economic and political corruption set in its path in the last hundred years.

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