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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Remembering Bosnia

I was not a muslim when the Yugoslav “civil” war erupted in 1992 (having accepted Islam in 1999) , however events in the past few days that I have been made aware of (which I will get onto at the end of this article ) have forced me to re-examine both the circumstances and events of that war, together with the great debt that myself and others owe to those brave individuals who from all over the world went to defend Islam. Indeed, there are many lessons, as with any history, to be learnt about the present through evaluating the past. I also realise that many reading this will be too young to even recall the war ( it being some 17 years ago ), so forgive me for recapping.

Yugoslavia was an ex-communist state, however the various provinces within that state consisted of a number of ethnic peoples whom had a deep history between each other. Marshall Tito, the communist leader, spent a good time of his tenure in power managing these rivalries within the state. When communism fell around the world, so too did Yugoslavia disintegrate, with Slovenia and Croatia gaining independence. When Bosnia-Herzogovina intended to do the same, they were attacked by an alliance of the Serbians (ex Yugoslavia ) and Croatians. This was already planned in the Karadordevo Agreement between Croatia and Serbia in March 1991, in that Milosevic(Serbia) and Tudman (Croatia) were to carve up Bosnia-Herzogovina between themselves.

When war eventually did break out, the western powers were directly complicit in the massacre of muslims that followed. The United Nations, led by the Security Council, stated that it was illegal to sell arms to any side (Resolution 713). This is despite the fact that it was a war of aggression led by the Serbs, who were arming their own ethnic population within the Bosnian border to the east ( led by Radavan Karadzic), and the Croatians also had no problems with arms, being able to smuggle them along the coast. All of these factors meant that this arms embargo inhibited only the muslims and they were the ones to pay the price.

First there was the issue of mass rape implemented by the Serbs, in which all women, ranging in age between 10 and 90, were held in purpose-built camps and attacked / assaulted repeatedly. In a War Crimes tribunal in 2000, it was revealed that one witness “couldn't remember how many times she was assaulted during eight months of torture, gang rape and enslavement.”Another was assaulted by a Serb soldier armed with a hunting knife. He threatened to slash her skin in the shape of a crucifix if the Muslim woman refused to have sex. These attacks took place in Stadiums, Sports Halls, Barracks and other places.

Then there was the killing / ethnic cleansing. Villages were shelled mercilessly, especially if it was known there were more muslim civilians than serbs. 1.5 Muslims were displaced, forced to leave their homes, with the men of fighting age either shot or taking to labour camps, the women sent to rape camps and the others forced to leave their village for the mountains.

The above is only a snapshot, and of course the United Nations, the Western Powers, and others sat back and watched, showing no interest in the conflict, no doubt because they were confident that the muslim population would be eliminated. It was into this background that muslims began to help, congregating from all over the world into the muslim international brigades within bosnia. Brothers from as far afield as Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and even some from the United States and England.

These were not the only foreign fighters. Russians, Greeks and other representatives from the Eastern Orthodox church participated in the Serb Army, whilst in Croatia neo-nazis, right-wingers and other odditites joined Croatian irregulars.

It was the muslim volunteers who provided the biggest boost to forces though, with aid being received as well as expertise and tactics being imparted to the Bosnians, and with Allahs(swt) help the muslims were eventually victorious in 1995, winning battle after battle. In fact, the muslims were so successful that the western powers began to fear that an Islamic state would arise on their doorstep. Suddenly mandates were signed, agreements were made and the war was brought to a halt within weeks. One of the first conditions of the treaty (the Dayton accords ) was that all foreign muslim fighters should leave. Thankfully the Bosnian government had awarded these brave few who gave up their whole lives to help a country only for the reason that they were muslims citizenship and the plans of the United States had failed.

However, time fades the memories of people and the shaitan is capable of many tricks. Joining the European Union and receiving western money has become important to the Bosnian government now, and this means that pressure has been applied for 8 years against the Bosnian government to expel these “arab bosnians”. When twenty years ago they welcomed them with open arms, now they are viewed as obstacles and parasites upon the state. The government, forgetting the memories of the rape camps, the genocide, now are only concerned with the Euro and Dollar.

There are no many heartbreaking tales of these Arab Bosniaks. Several are being held in immigration centres, having been stripped of their citizenship, and are now facing imminent deportation to torture in Syria, Egypt and Tunisia.

Indeed, the muslims owe these brothers a debt, and it is our obligation to help them as they helped the muslims in those dark Bosnian days. Please inshallah do not forget them in your dua’, and if anyone wants information on how to help these brothers or more details then please contact me . You can also visit the Bosnian website :-


Umar Abdullah, 30th May 2009


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