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    Shadow of the Balkans in the Terrorist Attacks in Norway

    Erhan Türbedar, PhD05 August 2011 - Okunma Sayısı: 2384


    Anders Behring Breivik who painted Norway in blood with twin attacks has some remarkable views about the Balkans in his "manifesto of terror" posted on the Internet. Breivik says that he has taken his action upon the NATO bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999 and notes that the bombing deprived Serbs of their right to stop Islam on their territories. Meanwhile, Radovan Karadzic who is now standing trial for the crimes he committed during the Bosnian war is an honorable Christian who fought against Islam, according to Breivik. His views expressed in the manifesto indicate that among the factors which pushed him to a perversion such as carrying out an act of terrorism were also the events in the Balkans about which he obviously knew very little.

    Different sides have different views about the wars which took place in the Balkans during 1990s. While the facts about the wars in the Balkans were yet to be disclosed, the officials of the regional countries generated "the realities" their national interests dictated and had their publics accept them as absolute facts. That is why there is still not a consistent view and consensus about why the Tito's Yugoslavia disintegrated. In fact there is an ongoing bickering among the Balkan historians of our day about how the wars of the 1990s should be defined and explained. Some of those historians know very well how to draw on the worries of the ultra-right in Europe which also fed Norwegian terrorist Breivik.

    While the Westerners were trying to understand the wars in the Balkans of the 1990s, the Muslims living in the region were one of the biggest puzzles they came across. Although official figures put the number of Balkan Muslims at more than 8 million, the Europeans were hardly aware of the existence and the problems of these Muslim communities until the Yugoslavia collapsed. At the beginning of the 1990s, Westerners started questioning the nature of Islam in the Balkan countries, trying to grasp if radical fundamentalism was an ingredient of the Islam practiced by the Balkan Muslims.

    Some rightist Europeans feared in that period that the radical fundamentalists from some Islamic countries could use the Muslims in the Balkans to infiltrate Europe. However, the concerns in this regard were totally unfounded. First of all, during the Communist era religion was banned in the Balkans. For example, at the beginning of the 1990s, the Albanians who constitute the largest Muslim group in the region knew very little about Islam, though they were aware of being Muslim. On the other hand, Bosniaks who rank second in population among Muslim communities in the Balkans were practicing certain tenets of Islam only on the understanding of a culture and tradition.


    Despite this, the Muslims in the Balkans were constantly deprecated and smeared. For example, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic whom the Norwegian terrorist desired to meet once said that Serbs protected Europe from Islam 600 years ago and that he was then trying to protect Europe from radical fundamentalism in the Bosnian war. It is obvious that Karadzic was trying to legitimize the massacre of Bosniaks in the Bosnia and Herzegovina, with such a discourse. And ultra-rightists such as Breivik had no doubts and easily believed the Serbs were fighting in Bosnia and Kosovo not just for themselves, but for the good of the West too.

    It was not only during the periods of war that the Muslims in the Balkans were deprecated and humiliated. Following September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in U.S., articles began popping up in the Balkan media about Al Qaeda's links in the Balkans. What is worse, it is still possible to come across some articles in the media of the Balkans which point to the countries and regions dominated by Albanians and Bosnians as the cells of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam. Some Balkan countries media even benefited from killing of Osama bin Laden, such that they wrote the news where they were showing Bosniaks and Bosnia and Herzegovina connected with Al-Qaeda and international terrorism.

    Those who slander on Bosniaks and Albanians are probably thinking that in this way it will be easier for them to get the support of the international community for the existing problems in the region. However, these targeted denigrations can easily be material for the ideologies and actions of such perverted people as Breivik. The twin attacks in Norway may have been carried out independently by Breivik. However, there is an ideology behind these crimes and individuals and institutions are feeding this ideology. Everyone who contributed to the evolution of this ideology that Breivik fought for should consider their share of the responsibility in the terrorist acts in Norway and revise their attitudes regarding certain topics.