Imam speaks of Genocide in Bosnia
Business Times, p.18.
18 August 1992.
LONDON, Wed: The atrocities committed by the Serbs against Bosniaks in Bosnia-Herzegovina were beyond imagination and would even make Hitler look like a small child, the Grand Imam of the Zagreb Mosque in the former Yugoslavia, Dr Mustafa Seric, said here.
He added the Muslims were defenceless partly because they did not expect this fate as all they wanted to do was to set up a democratic state and live side by side with people of other ethnic communities and religion.
Also, they were unprepared for what happened because unlike other ethnic communities in the former Yugoslavia, they did not join the army and had very little military experience, he said on Monday.
The Quran [Muslim holy book] instructed Muslims to live peacefully and it was not something they could compromise because of choice or political expediency, he said.
Bosnian Muslims did not want to set up an Islamic state in Bosnia, but they were not apologising for being Muslims and nor were they fundamentalists, he added.
Dr Seric, who is also visiting professor in theology at the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (Istac) in Kuala Lumpur, said in his meeting with church leaders here, he told them that he wished his fellow Muslims in Bosnia were fundamentalists for, if they had been so, they would not be in concentration camps; they would not be killed and their daughters raped.
He said the idea espoused by Europeans was for the cantonisation of former Yugoslavia into cantons for Serbs, Croatians and Bosniaks.
“Everybody accepted this because they know that after 10 years Muslims will disappear anyway, and so let’s make a small canton, put Muslims in a ghetto there and then say okay we saved a small ghetto of Muslims”
“We say, yes, there are three nations — Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks — but you missed one point. These people are mixed together, so how can you separate us?”
He also said that the Muslim world must take up the cause of Bosnia and keep reminding Europeans of their human rights obligations just as the Europeans have persisted in reminding Asian and African countries about human rights violations and religious tolerance.
He praised Malaysia and Pakistan “for having contributed so much” tot he Bosnian cause.
Dr Seric said there was a feeling that Europe was reluctant to help Bosnians for fear that, in time, Muslims might become the majority and form a Muslim state.
This was the approach adopted by the Stalinists when they suppressed Muslims for fear of what they could become, and not for what they were. The Bosnians were now the forgotten people among democratic Europeans, because they feared what they could become, he added.
He said: “Personally speaking, I would not welcome the intervention of outside forces in Bosnia but would urge the world to end its embargo which is preventing Bosniaks from obtaining arms to defend themselves.”
Muslims, he said, were now going through the most critical test that God wanted them to go through in this generation, and they should learn to take care of one another just as the Catholics and Jews cared for their people anywhere in the world.
Also present at the press conference was Salim Sabic, vice-president of the Yugoslav Bosniak Party for Democratic Action (SDA).
Sabic said there had been a lot of Serbian propaganda in the press about the extent of Serbian conquest of Bosnian territory, but the Bosnians were still holding 50 per cent of Bosnian lands and, with the Croats, they held more territory than Serbian propaganda made out.
The Serbs thought that they could overrun Bosnia in six days, as the Israelis did in the war with the Arabs, but they had underestimated the morale of Bosnian fighters, he added.
“We have learnt more in the last three months than in the last century. You will soon hear some good news from us,” he said confidently.