Fitzgerald: The jihad in Serbia

Jihad Watch  Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses why all anti-jihadists should support Serbia today:

The jihad in Serbia is one that is obscured in a particularly vexing way. Accordingly it must be emphasized that in alerting people to attacks on the Serbs, and to the destruction of ancient churches and monasteries, and on the infiltration into the area of Arabs bringing a brand of Islam quite different from the relaxed, syncretistic local version (not exactly full-bodied Islam in practice,

 because that local practice was affected by the centuries of proximity to non-Muslims, and to the effect of Communism), one is not endorsing any massacres by some Serbs. One can distance oneself -- most Serbs do, unfeignedly -- from Milosevic and those atrocities that were committed by some Serb forces.

One must keep in mind both the way in which some atrocities ascribed to Serbs were exaggerated, while the atrocities inflicted on them were minimized or ignored altogether. The role played by Arabs who came from outside never received the attention in the West it deserved. But what was most disturbing was that there was no context to anything: nothing about the centuries of Muslim rule, the ferocity of that Turkish rule, the role of the feared devshirme (which was not, as Bernard Lewis would have it, a kind of benign "recruitment" of Christian and in some cases Jewish children for the armies of the Sultan, but rather a forced levy of such children, snatched from their families to enter the armies of the Sultan).


Had such a history been discussed early on, Western governments might have understood and attempted to assuage the deep fears evoked by the Bosnian Muslim leader, Izetbegovic, when he wrote that he intended to create a Muslim state in Bosnia and impose the Sharia not merely there, but everywhere that Muslims had once ruled in the Balkans. Had the Western world shown the slightest intelligent sympathy or understanding of what that set off in the imagination of many Serbs (and elsewhere, among the Christians in the Balkans and in Greece), there might never have been such a violent Serbian reaction, and someone like Milosevic might never have obtained power.

Izetbegovic had openly demanded that Islam become the ruling force in Bosnia. His remarks on the need to reimpose the Sharia and impose full Muslim rule did send shivers down Serbian spines. And at the same time, Germany, which was so quick to recognize Slovenia and then Croatia, was remembered by Serbians as connected to Operation Kozara and many other massacres, as well as to Croatian collaborators with the Nazis, the Ustashe who killed Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies at Jasenovac. And Serbs have not forgotten the story of Kurt Waldheim in his "Intelligence Unit." Germany's quick recognition of these states was understood in light of all this, and seemed to many in Serbia to be what prematurely caused Yugoslavia to dissolve.

And these two histories that are vivid in Serbian imaginations, the recent one of German and Ustashe massacres, and the much older, much longer one of oppression and massacre by the Ottoman Turks. These were enough to terrify Serbs into supporting certain leaders whom, had they not been so terrified, they would never have followed.

In all of Europe, only a few French journalists and the Austrian writer Peter Handke tried to explain Serbian fears and Serbian history. In the United States, no one made the slightest effort. Milosevic = Serbs, Milosevic = bad, Serbs = bad. And Izetbegovic? Well, when he died, the plummy-voiced Paddy Ashdown (now some grand panjandrum in the Balkans) delivered himself of some solemn words of regret on the passing of the great man (the Great Man was a monster); not a hint of what Izetbegovic was all about.

In Bosnia and Kosovo, hundreds of millions of dollars from the Saudis and Arab fighters, have now been around -- as they will go wherever Jihad-duty calls -- for the last 15 years.

A few months ago, Albanians destroyed a few hundred Orthodox churches in Kosovo. Nothing happened at the UN. Just as nothing happened when a Hindu temple was destroyed in the middle of Kuala Lumpur by the Muslim-run government. Nothing was done when Joseph's Tomb was reduced to rubble by the "Palestinians" in 2000. Nothing was done when the Bamiyan Buddhas were at long last, after 1,500 years, destroyed because, at long last, they could be. Here and there, there was about those churches as about the other cases, a cluck-cluck of disapproval. But nothing will happen.

And if Turkey is, insanely, allowed into the EU? What will the Balkans be like then, if not a place to settle, or still worse, a transit-point for Muslims, by no means all of them citizens of Turkey? Who will distinguish a Turkish Kurd from an Iraqi Kurd, or an Iranian Kurd? Who in Western Europe will really be able to distinguish an Arab "immigrant" slipping in from a Turk who is entitled to free movement within the EU? Chaos, anyone?

Shouldn't the Western Europeans learn just a little about the Balkans? Let's start with Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, or Ivo Andric (whose recently-reprinted Ph.D. thesis on the effects of Muslim rule, "The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under the Influence of Turkish Rule," should not be forgotten), Milovan Djilas and his son Aleksa. No one can discuss the Balkans unless that person can adequately describe:

1) the devshirme system;

2) the condition of Christians under Ottoman rule, including such events as the Bulgarian Wars of 1875-1876;

3) the significance of the Battle of Kosovo;

4) who was Karageorge.

Be able to answer those questions, and you will have begun to earn the right to have an opinion about the Serbs, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

How many in the State Department today can answer those questions? Why not? Why didn't those in the West study what Izetbegovic said? When Clinton ordered the bombing of the Serbs, had he heard, ever, about the devshirme? Did he know that Izetbegovic had written about imposing the Sharia? No, of course not. But had he, and had others, they might have reassured the Serbs long before, and helped to make them less panicky, less prone to give power to someone like Milosevic. The West entirely mishandled Serbia.

And right now, despite the dribs and drabs that begin to come out about the exaggerations on which criticism and bombing of Serbians was based, despite the new evidence, or the evidence no longer hidden, of past Muslim atrocities, the Western world still seems ready to overlook what is now happening. And what is now happening are attacks on Serbian villagers and the destruction of Serbian churches in Kosovo. Is one supposed to permanently blame Serbia and never take its side because of what Milosevic did? Is one to overlook the role of Bosnia as a place of training for those who could tomorrow be conducting Jihad anywhere in the world?

There is no reason not to take Serbia's side now. There is every reason -- of principle and of Infidel self-interest -- to take it.

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