Justifying genocide: How the worldwide far proper has embraced Serbia’s lethal demonization of Muslims – World Information

In 2018, Hatidza Mehmedovic handed away. Her husband and two sons had been murdered by Serb forces through the Srebrenica genocide in July 1995. 

For the reason that finish of the conflict, she had headed up the “Mothers of Srebrenica,” a company advocating for the reality in regards to the genocide and dealing to assist convey closure to its members. She returned to Srebrenica, defying the exact same murderers who sure, blindfolded, executed after which buried their husbands and sons. 


Like many different moms of Srebrenica, who misplaced all of the male members of their households, she lived alone. One of many few satisfactions left to the “Moms” through the years has been to search out the stays of their family members and for the perpetrators to be dropped at justice. 

After a brief and troublesome sickness, she handed away in a Sarajevo hospital. That day, as 1000’s of individuals all through the world had been mourning Hatidza’s loss of life, Vjerica Radeta, the Deputy Speaker of the Serbian Parliament and a high-ranking member of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Social gathering, tweeted: “I learn that Hatidza Mehmetovic from the affiliation of Srebrenica businesswomen has died. Who’s going to bury her? The husband or the sons?”

The tweet shocked and disgusted many, though it got here as no actual shock coming from a Serb Radical Social gathering official. However, it felt like a brand new low. 


Two Serbian policemen guard a group of Bosnian Muslim men from the Srebrenica enclave who crossed into the Serb town of Uzice from Bosnia seeking sanctuary. August 5 1995.

Two Serbian policemen guard a gaggle of Bosnian Muslim males from the Srebrenica enclave who crossed into the Serb city of Uzice from Bosnia in search of sanctuary. August 5 1995.Credit score: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Why was it unsurprising? For a few years, the Serbian media has pushed the narrative that the 1995 Srebrenica genocide is a world conspiracy aimed toward defaming the Serbs. They’ve loved a relentless measure of success. 


Throughout and proper after the conflict, the Serbian institution denied there had been a genocide of Bosnian Muslims or that Bosnian Serbs had been perpetrators in that genocide or any of the opposite mass atrocities dedicated between 1992 and 1995. Already well-hidden mass graves had been dug up and eliminated to a number of secondary and tertiary places; the media, academia and Church denied the atrocities and continued to help and defend the Miloševic regime. 

Over time, the propaganda equipment turned extra refined and organized. It constructed on pre-war propaganda that pushed the message to abnormal Serbs that the Ottoman Empire was returning to determine a “inexperienced [Muslim] transversal” throughout the Balkans, and that Bosnia and Herzegovina was full of bloodthirsty extremists. Now, Serbian terrorism ‘specialists’ and ‘analysts’ claimed that the victims of Srebrenica had been actually jihadists. 

The framing of Bosniaks themselves has developed through the years. When Miloševic began his nationalist marketing campaign, Albanians and Bosniaks had been referred to as “irredentists” and “counter-revolutionaries.” With the autumn of Communism, this terminology turned redundant, so the phrases, “fundamentalists” and “Ustaša” had been employed. It was proved to be an ideal mixture. 


The Serbian institution manipulated the history of World Warfare Two genocides of Serbs, Jews and Roma, to impress worry of a repetition. As Communism fell, and the nation’s first democratic elections had been held in 1990, Bosniaks had been, for the primary time, capable of publicly proclaim their nationwide and spiritual id. 

This nationwide and spiritual revival and its accompanying nation-building, a common occurrence all through the remainder of the post-socialist world, was then weaponized by the Serbian nationalists to painting Bosniaks as non secular fundamentalists. That the directions to make use of this terminology had come from the Serbian elite was clear when lower-level Serb leaders fumbled with the phrase. 

In April 1992, Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan, the Yugoslav State Police hitman and soccer hooligan, entered the Bosnian border city of Bijeljina, adopted by a Serbian TV crew. After ‘mopping up’ the place of its Muslim inhabitants (with the lack of scores of lives), he triumphantly declared that the fundamentalists had been destroyed. Nonetheless, he had a lot issue saying the phrase fundamentalizam that journalists had to assist him out. 


A protester holds a portrait of Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic at an ultra-nationalist rally against Mladic's arrest outside the Serbian Parliament on May 29, 2011 in Belgrade

A protester holds a portrait of Bosnian Serb conflict crimes suspect Ratko Mladic at an ultra-nationalist rally towards Mladic’s arrest outdoors the Serbian Parliament on Might 29, 2011 in Belgrade.Credit score: AFP

This excellent demonization idea for Serb nationalists – Bosniaks because the Muslim fundamentalists and/or Nazi-era Ustasha – quickly pale out after the Bosnian Military and Croatian forces foughta civil conflict between 1993-94. Serbian propaganda switched again to utilizing the Muslim fundamentalists trope once more.  


For the reason that finish of the conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Bosniak Muslim inhabitants have been constantly framed as a hub for extremists, backed up by fabricated hyperlinks between Bosnian jihadists and nearly each one of many world’s latest Islamist-connected terrorist assaults. 

Bosniaks had been accused of eager to create a jamahiriyah in Bosnia, just like Gaddafi’s Libya, which didn’t actually make sense since a jamahiriyah is a Muslim Socialist republic, not a non secular state, and Gaddafi, similar to Saddam Hussein and plenty of different Arab dictators, was a vocal supporter of the Miloševic regime. 

That help was traditionally rooted of their membership of the Non-Aligned Motion, spearheaded by Yugoslavia through the Chilly Warfare, and by sympathy for the concept Miloševic’s regime was bravely defying the U.S. and NATO. A seeming counter-intuitive Arab help for the Serbs (notably from the UAE) continues to be seen at this time of their refusal to acknowledge Kosovo’s independence. That refusal – by Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, PA, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran – continues to be grounded in these non-aligned motion instances.


Marchers recreate the trail Bosnian Muslims took to flee Bosnian Serb forces who went on to kill eight,000 Bosnian Muslim males and boys throughout 10 days of slaughter (the 1995 Srebrenica bloodbath.) July eight, Credit score: Kemal Softic,AP

Over time, Serbian denial has change into versatile and responsive. The Serbian revisionist equipment is aware of what narrative match finest, taking part in into the fears of the West, and in doing so, delegitimizing the genocide. Denial isn’t carried out by marginal web trolls, however relatively by high-positioned and educated people, a part of a community of presidency, academia, media and Church brokers.


By denying the genocide, a brand new counter-narrative has been created: That “no matter occurred” between 1992-95 was a reliable struggle towards jihadists. 

The narrative of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an unstable nation threatened by jihadists first emerged through the conflict within the 1990s however has now been co-opted by the broader far-right and has even entered mainstream European considering. This narrative can also be getting used inside Croatian circles.

Lately, help for Bosnian Serb leaders and indicted conflict criminals Karadzic and Miloševic has slowly entered Western intellectual circles


In 2019, it turned obvious how far the rhetoric utilized by Karadzic and Miloševic has been adopted by respectable Western establishments and people. Peter Handke (who denies the Srebrenica bloodbath and gave a eulogy at Miloševic’s funeral) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Jessica Stern (who interviewed Karadzic, in jail for genocide) printed a e book referred to as “My Warfare Prison” wherein she decribed him as a “Byronic” determine.  

Representatives of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide hold a picture of 2019 Nobel Literature laureate Peter Handke in Srebrenica, at the Swedish embassy in Sarajevo. Nov 5, 2019

Representatives of the Affiliation of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide maintain an image of 2019 Nobel Literature laureate Peter Handke in Srebrenica, on the Swedish embassy in Sarajevo. Nov 5, 2019.Credit score: DADO RUVIC/ REUTERS


Anti-Muslim bigotry combined with genocide denial could be very profitable. In addition to a big dose of anti-Semitism. As journalist Peter Maass found, a number of of the Nobel committee jurors who awarded Handke his prize relied closely on conspiracy theories for his or her choices and protection of Handke. The primary conspiracy idea was that Bosnian Muslims had employed a PR agency to realize the help of main Jewish organizations as a way to painting the Serbs in a detrimental mild.  

Thus murdering Bosniak civilians and dumping them in hidden mass graves has change into a justified struggle towards terrorism. Raping and sexual abuse are most likely thought of a worthy counter-extremism effort. 

The fixed speak of genocide irritates the perpetrators. Excessive-ranking Bosnian Serb official Rajko Vasic tweeted in 2018: “Simply considering. When you [Bosniaks] love the genocide dedicated towards you that a lot, await the following alternative.”


Thus we have now arrived at an odd, (to borrow Weisband’s phrasing) “macabresque” time: the genocide in Srebrenica is each systematically denied, but celebrated, after which its perpetrators menace to repeat it. This celebration was acknowledged and conceptualized by Australian-Bosnian scholar Hariz Halilovich who coined the time period “triumphalism” to explain it, suggesting or not it’s added as an 11th part of Gregory Stanton’s “10 stages of genocide.” 

A Muslim woman mourns by the grave of her relative during the funeral of 534 newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Potocari, Bosnia. July 11, 2009

A Muslim lady mourns by the grave of her relative through the funeral of 534 newly recognized victims of the 1995 Srebrenica bloodbath in Potocari, Bosnia. July 11, 2009.Credit score: Reuters


The triumphalism part of the Bosnian genocide is seen within the area: the celebration of convicted conflict criminals; the memorials constructed for fallen Serb troopers in areas the place mass atrocities had been dedicated on Bosniak Muslims; the naming of public areas after convicted conflict criminals. The checklist goes on.

The worldwide peak of this genocide glorification (so far) was the horrific 2019 Christchurch bloodbath. Because the gunman drove to the Al Noor mosque, he was taking part in the Serb-nationalist war-time tune,  “Karadzic, Lead Your Serbs.”  

It was a tune used through the Bosnian conflict to boast morale for Serb troopers concentrating on Muslim civilians. Now it was getting used to boast the morale of a far-right anti-Muslim mass assassin. Actually, it’s change into an anthem for the worldwide far proper, below a brand new identify: “Take away the Kebabs” – “kebab” that means Muslims. 


The Christchurch shooter’s manifesto contained similarities with an earlier far-right terrorist, Anders Breivik, who killed 77 civilians in Norway in 2011. Each cited Serb conflict criminals and nationalists as their inspiration, and thought of the Bosnian conflict as a battle to save lots of Europe from the invasion of Islam.

Depressingly, the genocide dedicated in Bosnia and Herzegovina now function a model for emulation by far-right extremists all through the world. The narrative of Bosniak Muslims as fundamentalists who deserve annihilation to save lots of the West has reworked into a worldwide rallying cry. Solely now, all of us “kebabs” are the goal. 

Dr. Hikmet Karčic is a genocide scholar primarily based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He’s a researcher on the Institute for Islamic Custom of Bosniaks in Sarajevo and a Senior Fellow with the Middle for World Coverage in Washington D.C. He was the 2017 Auschwitz Institute for Peace and ReconciliationKeene State School World Fellow. Twitter: @hikmet_karcic