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Sam’s understanding of Islam in Bosnia
Posted: 31 January 2008 12:15 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I have a question regarding Sam’s comments in “The End of Faith” paperback edition p.188 where he talks about the concept of “honor” in Islam and then mentions Bosnia and how the Serbs “systematically raped” Bosnian women, and then goes on to tie this with “belief in the intrinsic sinfulness of women, the importance of virginity prior to marriage, and the shamefulness of being raped.”  In this context he’s making it sound like Bosnians believe those things about women, and let me tell you, as a Bosnian man, that he could not be more wrong.  He mentions Bosnia somewhere else in the book as well, I don’t remember where, but even in that case I remember thinking “he’s not portraying Bosnia accurately.”  Let me also say that I am an atheist, brought up by a non-practicing Muslim mother.  A single mother.  I think that Sam doesn’t quite understand just how watered down Islam in Bosnia really is.  In many ways Bosnia is a more liberal country than the US.  For example, abortion is perfectly legal and nobody is even trying to debate otherwise.  Sale and consumption of alcohol - perfectly legal.  It is a democracy, people vote for the president.  I think that Christopher Hitchens, as a journalist who actually traveled to Bosnia during the war, has a much better understanding of Islam in Bosnia and has even shared views on it publicly.  In “god is not Great” he describes events and the situation during the war in Bosnia and I agreed with every single word.  Also, in the “Four Horsemen” get together he reminds Dan, Richard and Sam that Bosnians were “much better behaved” in that war than the other side.  Does anybody have any comments on any of this or maybe on what Sam actually thinks about Islam in Bosnia?  I’m not defending Islam in the least bit here, I’m just trying to defend Bosnians who I think are being very unfairly bunched together with the Middle-Eastern lunatics.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Although I can’t speak for Sam, I would venture to guess that he was referring to honor killings which are given the two thumbs up from certain orthodox muslim sects. He may not be aware (I just found out me self) that many of the 40% who are muslim in Bosnia practice a heterodox version of islam which is “antinonian” (ideological immoralism) and therefore do not require its members to follow shariah law. From what I gathered, this brand of muslimism is also known as alevism (muslims of the sufi-elitist practice) and are pantheist who do not view allah as a god of punishment of justice or of reward, and think that the koran should be read esoterically and is not perfect; rather, it is seen as irrelevant. Nor do they recognize mohammad. In fact, mohammad is the cause of its main guy,  ali’s, death. I read that they think that orthodox muslims are devil worshippers. I’m pretty sure Sam was making a reference to a specific incident he read in the news. Perhaps around the time (1995) when the serbs (I don’t know their religious affiliation, do you?)  killed 8,000 muslims (of which sect, I don’t know either, do you?) at Srebenica?  Raping and pillaging go together like a ‘sure-lite fire log’ and flames during wartime, so…


I’m not real clear on the difference between the serbs and the croatians. Could you elaborate matriculated01? (And correct any misperceptions I may have…)

Also, what is your opinion regarding the peace-keeping forces there and the effect they have on the current democracy in Bosnia?

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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oops, double post monster.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 08:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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The truth about Islam in Bosnia (and religion in general) is that it is not very important to people.  People call themselves Muslims but hardly anybody prays five times a day or observes any other Islamic principles.  Only old people do that really and even among them only a small minority.  No, of course there is no Sharia law in Bosnia, nor are there any laws at all reflecting religious views as far as I know.  If there are, they are so inconsequential that they really do not affect anything of importance and I can’t even name one.  Women don’t wear veils, aren’t opressed, and have a right to vote, drive and do any other thing that you can possibly think of when thinking of a liberal society.  There’s a huge misconception about Bosnia among people, especially Americans, that because it is a majority Islamic country it is just as barbaric as the African and Middle-Eastern Muslim societies, and nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact is that, more than anything, Bosnia is a pluralistic society.  Yes, there are many post-war problems and corruption and such things, but there’s corruption in the US. 

I’ve never heard any of this stuff about Bosnians thinking about orthodox muslims as devil worshippers.  I would say that’s not true, as nobody considers the elderly who regularly go to mosques devil worshippers.  People just let them be.  And Mohammed is recognized as the prophet in any form of Islam, no matter how liberal it is.  For a Muslim to say that Mohammed isn’t the prophet or anything critical would be exactly like a Christian criticizing Jesus.  But like I said, none of that really matters because people don’t center their lives around religion. 

Serbs are orthodox Christians, and Croatians are Catholics.  Regarding the Serbian genocide and raping of Bosnian muslim women (including children and even babies), yes those things happened and they were terrible, but nobody ever even thought about suggesting that the raped women be killed in the name of honor.  Again, Islam in Bosnia is not of that brand.  It is as watered down and inconsequential as it can possibly get. 

Regarding the peace-keeping forces, I don’t know what the perceptions are now, because I have lived in the US for the last seven years of my life, but I can tell you that Bosnians in general have a positive impression of Americans because they (including me) credit them with helping to end the war in 1995 with their intervention and the Dayton agreement. 

Side note: Also as a result, Bill Clinton is very popular in Bosnia.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I’m sorry, I just realized that your request for me to comment on the peace-keeping forces in Bosnia and their effect on the democracy is probably in reference to the Iraqi situation, and you expected an answer more in line with that theme.  So let me elaborate…

You cannot, I repeat CANNOT compare the situation in Bosnia, pre-war post-war it doesn’t matter, to what is happening in Iraq.  They are completely different and there is nothing that happened in Bosnia that can be in some way paralleled to Iraq.

First of all, Bosnia and Iraq were and are two completely different societies.  Iraq had a totalitarian dictatorship and Bosnia was part of Yugoslavia, much the same way Texas is part of US, for example.  In 1992 Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, had elections and elected a president, and as a result Milosevic initiated the agression.  So you see, Bosnia was a democracy to begin with, unlike Iraq.  Also, the US came to the Balkans to defend Bosnia from the genocidal Serbs, not to invade and occupy it.  Any forces in Bosnia now aren’t there to maintain democracy, the country is and would have been a democracy either way, but they are there simply making sure that the animosity still held between Bosnians and Serbs doesn’t escalate, I suppose.  But understand this, there are NO suicide bombers in Bosnia, NO rival Muslim sects fighting for power.  Bosnians don’t mind the US or international forces, whatever they are. 

That’s another thing people don’t understand about the Bosnia situation.  Many try to draw parallels to Iraq when there are none.

Iraq is a highly religious and divided society, with opposite religious sects fighting for power and against what they perceive to be the evil of USA occupying their country and imposing their (unacceptable to these sects) style of government.  Bosnia is not and never was “invaded” or “occupied” by the US.  It was invaded and attacked by Serbia, and the US is the good guy in the equation (not for Serbia, in this case).

The two situations are fundamentally different.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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matriculated01 - 01 February 2008 01:45 AM

Side note: Also as a result, Bill Clinton is very popular in Bosnia.

I’ll bet he is. One way early on that I knew Bush’s reasons for invading Iraq was bullshit was Clinton’s assistance in Bosnia. I watched a lot of C-Span at the time and as Clinton tried to make his case for intervention to Congress, practically every republican was opposed citing the reason that “we have no interest there.” Ironically, after all of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld et al lies, the only thing left was that “we removed a tyrant”. That was Clinton’s reason…period. Do the math and the answer is oil.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Oh yeah,

I really don’t know much about Sam H. and the Horsemen. My impression though is that 9/11 had a deep impact on S.H. such that he may be so angry and fearful that it may have led to some generalizing. Just my take on it.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I watched a lot of C-Span at the time and as Clinton tried to make his case for intervention to Congress, practically every republican was opposed citing the reason that “we have no interest there.”

I find that reprehensible.  I was still in Bosnia during the war and I don’t know what kind of negotiations went on in the US before they intervened, but I am sure very thankful that they did.  I think that USA, as the world’s most powerful military force, has a moral obligation to end genocide of innocent people, regardless of whether there are any immediate interests in the region.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying be the policeman of the world and interfere in every single squabble between nations, but if it’s a case of an all-out genocide by a militarily superior nation of the people in a militarily much inferior nation, as was the case with the Serbian genocide of Bosnians, I believe that the only moral thing to do for a superpower such as the US is to interfere and prevent the genocide. 

As a Bosnian (well actually I am now a naturalized citizen of the US), I believe that the US intervention in Bosnia was the benevolent thing to do and it built up the moral standing of USA and president Bill Clinton in the world.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I agree. Clinton’s case was that it was our moral obligation. He went without congress’ (republican) approval, if I recall correctly. Even if it was a total airstrike with no troops on the ground, our military didn’t suffer a single casualty. However, I suspect probably there were some intelligence forces there. He may get criticism for not doing more in other places, for instance Somalia, but I suppose each case has its own political and tactical considerations. And Milosevic was tried and convicted for his war crimes in an international tribunal.

Thanks, m’01, for the information clarifying the cultural and religious differences between Bosnia and Iraq.

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Posted: 02 February 2008 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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You say that Bosnian Muslims are oh so liberal, and that you don’t center your lives around religion.

Okay, I’ll believe you.

Just a thing, though:
Do Bosnians engage in the vile, criminal practice of circumcising infants?

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Posted: 02 February 2008 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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matriculated01 - 01 February 2008 02:22 AM

I’m sorry, I just realized that your request for me to comment on the peace-keeping forces in Bosnia and their effect on the democracy is probably in reference to the Iraqi situation, and you expected an answer more in line with that theme.  So let me elaborate…

No, no reference to the Iraqi quagmire, just wanted your perspective on whether the p-k forces were/are well received (I thought so but who better to ask than someone who’s been there), but thanks for the elaboration nonetheless.

Here’s where I got my info on the distinctions and history of heterodox muslims in Bosnia compared to orthodox, etc.:

http://www.religionstatistics.net/histen4.htm

And now, mat01, if you don’t mind, a few nosey questions…just ‘cause I’m curious:
Do you want to return to Bosnia? Why did you leave? Is your family still there?

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Posted: 02 February 2008 08:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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arildno - 02 February 2008 03:38 PM

You say that Bosnian Muslims are oh so liberal, and that you don’t center your lives around religion.

Okay, I’ll believe you.

Just a thing, though:
Do Bosnians engage in the vile, criminal practice of circumcising infants?

The answer is yes, and also I do agree that it is a vile practice.  But that doesn’t detract from anything I’ve said thus far, as evidenced by the fact that most infants in the US get circumcised as well.  It’s not across the board though, but I would say a majority of the muslim infants do get circumcized.  I wasn’t, my mom (nor my dad, while he was still in the picture) was not religious at all, she was what Richard Dawkins would call a “cultural muslim.”  Thank god for that, because not being brainwashed at a young age is probably the reason why it wasn’t so hard for me to realize that there is no Allah, or Jeebus for that matter.

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Posted: 02 February 2008 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 02 February 2008 04:28 PM

No, no reference to the Iraqi quagmire, just wanted your perspective on whether the p-k forces were/are well received (I thought so but who better to ask than someone who’s been there), but thanks for the elaboration nonetheless.

Here’s where I got my info on the distinctions and history of heterodox muslims in Bosnia compared to orthodox, etc.:

http://www.religionstatistics.net/histen4.htm

I skimmed over that website, it goes into it way too deep for me to read the whole thing though.  I can tell you that probably 99.98% of people in Bosnia probably don’t know those specifics about their own faith and how it came about, nor does anybody care.  We all know that it is a remnant of the Ottoman Empire and people just don’t care to dig too much deeper.  But no, I would still say that nobody considers some other muslims devil worshippers; however, people do get outraged at the barbarity of the Middle-Eastern brand of Islamism.  We only hear about these things on the news, honor killings and beheadings and whippings and cutting off of hands/feet and women locked up in the house and so on.  It is as strange and medieval sounding in Bosnia just as much as it is in the US,  I can assure you of that.

isocratic infidel - 02 February 2008 04:28 PM

And now, mat01, if you don’t mind, a few nosey questions…just ‘cause I’m curious:
Do you want to return to Bosnia? Why did you leave? Is your family still there?

No, I don’t want to return to Bosnia.  I do want to go visit for a vacation and I still haven’t had the time, since I am a full-time college student plus I work basically full-time.  I don’t want to return for many reasons, one of which being the primary reason why I left in the first place: opportunities.  Or lack thereof.  The economy was in the dumps after the war, not even a college degree would’ve helped me much.  I hear things are improving greatly, but I still wouldn’t return because I simply like the life I’m leading in the US and I don’t know what I would do if I returned.  I’m too used to this now, too americanized.  I would probably feel like a stranger in my own country.

The only family I have in the US beside me is my mom.  The rest are in Bosnia and I also have some family in Denmark.  Actually Denmark was one of the places where we might have moved, but then decided to go for the US of A.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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matriculated01 - 03 February 2008 01:49 AM
arildno - 02 February 2008 03:38 PM

You say that Bosnian Muslims are oh so liberal, and that you don’t center your lives around religion.

Okay, I’ll believe you.

Just a thing, though:
Do Bosnians engage in the vile, criminal practice of circumcising infants?

The answer is yes, and also I do agree that it is a vile practice.

I’m glad you really do have the moral fibres not to defend this.

But that doesn’t detract from anything I’ve said thus far,

No, it does not. It enhances your credibility, and that I was right in believing what you said.

as evidenced by the fact that most infants in the US get circumcised as well.

Indeed, and that is a shame.
However, there remains a moral distinction between the deluded parent who has some false notion in her head that ciurcumcision has a positive MEDICAL advantage for her child, than an even more deluded parent who has the immoral notion that she can chop her child’s genitals as some sort of offering to her favourite deity.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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arildno - 03 February 2008 10:52 AM

I’m glad you really do have the moral fibres not to defend this.

Why do you say “you really do have the moral fibers?”  You didn’t expect somebody who grew up in Bosnia to have any moral fibers…?  Or..? Has anything I’ve said so far indicated that I am anything but a reasonable individual?

arildno - 03 February 2008 10:52 AM

But that doesn’t detract from anything I’ve said thus far,

No, it does not. It enhances your credibility, and that I was right in believing what you said.

You say you believe what I said, but the following quote taken from you shows that at the very least you didn’t fully understand what my point was.

arildno - 03 February 2008 10:52 AM

However, there remains a moral distinction between the deluded parent who has some false notion in her head that ciurcumcision has a positive MEDICAL advantage for her child, than an even more deluded parent who has the immoral notion that she can chop her child’s genitals as some sort of offering to her favourite deity.

 

You make a false assumption that Bosnians circumcise infants as an “offering to a diety.”  I don’t see how you can believe me when I describe how irrelevant Islam is in Bosnia and then make that - honestly - ridiculous statement.  Nobody thinks of circumcision that way.  It’s done for reasons of tradition and customs more than anything else, and like I said some people don’t even care about tradition (case in point, my mom).  Also the prevailing belief is that circumcised genitalia are “cleaner” or easier to keep clean than uncircumcised.  So basically, it’s much the same reason why infants get circumcised in the US: tradition AND perceived medical advantage.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 09:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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matriculated01 - 04 February 2008 01:48 AM

So basically, it’s much the same reason why infants get circumcised in the US: tradition AND perceived medical advantage.

My parents were Catholic and Sicilian. I was circumcised as an infant and I’m happy with it. I might not opt to do it as an adult just because of pain and discomfort. Vile? Criminal? What’s that about?

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