April 21, 2008
Regarding ‘Vote for police reform brings Bosnia closer to EU’:
As one of my favorite news sites I just couldn’t ignore the misuse of the term ‘Muslims’ when you referred to the Bosniaks as one of the native ethnic groups or peoples in Bosnia. That pseudo-ethnic and religious term is very deceptive in the context of the Balkan politics, particularly when it is applied to the historically legitimate ethnic group, namely the Bosniaks.
It is a fundamental mistake to equate religion with ethnicity. Unfortunately, we Bosniaks are constantly referred to as “Muslims” or “Bosnian Muslims”. Sadly, that is the same religious, quasi-denominational ethnic terminology – “Muslims” – as the Serbian nationalistic rhetoric used and still does use when referring to the Bosniaks, instead of the proper ethnic term “Bosniaks” for this distinct ethnic group or people.
Bosniaks – along with the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina – have their own distinct language, culture and history. Referring to them as Muslim is not only imprecise, it denies them their existence as an ethnic group altogether. While this may seem like a trifling distinction to the general reader, it is important to note that this imprecision has been intentionally exploited to commit acts of genocide against ethnic Bosniaks (see the February 2007 official judgement by the International Court of Justice at The Hague). Calling Bosniaks “Muslims” was specifically designed by Serbian nationalists to lessen the sympathy other Europeans might feel for the plight of a “non-European” people.
The fact that an entire national, ethic group is named and labelled as a religious group especially in the complex, often xenophobic and competing web of the Balkan nationalist politics, has a negative echo and has been and is still being used as a justification for war, war crimes and acts of genocide.
The Columbia Encyclopedia says of Bosnia and Herzegovina: “The ethnically diverse population speaks Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian (all dialects of Serbo-Croatian). The country’s Bosniaks (about 48%, mainly Muslim), Serbs (about 37% of the population, largely Eastern Orthodox), and Croats (about 14%, mostly Roman Catholics) formerly formed a complex patchwork, but civil war and the flight of refugees forcibly segregated much of the population.”
This distinction is very important to us.
New YorkAuthor : sylvane_casademont