Friday, March 30, 2007

Serbs in New Fear of Wahhabis

By Vesna Peric Zimonjic

BELGRADE, Mar 28 (IPS)
The detention of seven young "Wahhabis" in the southern Serb region Sanjak has set off new fear of the spread of Islamists in the region.

The Wahhabis are a sect of Sunni Muslims mostly from Saudi Arabia. They follow a form of Sunni Islam propagated in an 18th century reform movement that aimed to restore Islam to its pure form by purging it of foreign influence. Wahhabism was brought to Bosnia by fighters who came to support Muslims in the 1992-95 war. Many stayed on.

The seven detained men, in their late 20s and early 30s, were said to have been found in a cave on Ninaja mountain, 30 km from the regional centre Novi Pazar, and 275 km south of capital Belgrade. Sanjak is a region shared by Serbia and Montenegro, and borders Bosnia-Herzegovina. It has a population of some 530,000, 67 percent of it Muslim. The rest are Orthodox Serb Christians and Montenegrins. The police said they found an undisclosed amount of arms, ammunition, hand grenades and plastic explosives with timers. They said at first the weapons were to be used "for terrorist training." They now say the arrested men are under investigation for "trying to disturb public order and peace."

But the very mention of "Wahhabis" prompted a large part of the Serbian press to speculate on the motives of the group, with headlines screaming that the nation is "Under Terrorist Threat" or that "Extremists are against Serbia". Most such items sensationalised the arrests, and repeated the anti-Muslim language used in the times of the wars of the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. "This (the arrests) and Wahhabis are the issues of Sanjak and should be solved at the local level," president of the Sanjak Democratic Party Rasim Ljajic told reporters in Belgrade. Ljajic, a Sanjak Muslim, is minister for minorities and human rights in the Serbian government.

"Wahhabis do exist in Serbia, but the problem has been blown out of real proportions," he added. "Wahhabism can be neutralised not through repressive measures, but through the good organisation of the Islamic community that will reject such an interpretation of the Islam."

Local Islamic clerics in Sanjak had a serious problem with Wahhabis last November. A group of Wahhabis insisted that prayers be held in accordance with their ways, but people protested. There was exchange of gunfire between the two groups, and the biggest mosque in Novi Pazar, the Arap Mosque, was closed for days. A year ago, a group of young men dressed in the traditional short Wahhabi trousers prevented a concert by the popular Balkanika Belgrade band in Novi Pazar. They broke up the sound system on the stage, shouting "Go home brothers and sisters. This is the work of Shaitan (the devil)".

Muslims in Bosnia and Sanjak belong to the moderate Sunni Hanafi teaching, shaped by long co-existence with other faiths and incorporating customs that precede the conversion to Islam of some Christian Slavs in the 15th century, when the Ottomans conquered the Balkans.

But once Wahhabism came to Bosnia, "it was logical that it spread to Sanjak as well," sociologist Mirko Djordjevic told IPS. "However, Wahhabis are not a terrorist organisation. They are a sect within Islam, of a puritan provenance. They will most probably create problems within the Islamic community, both here and in Bosnia, rather than cause deeper troubles."  In neighbouring Bosnia, Wahhabis have a community that is gathered around the King Fahd Mosque in capital Sarajevo, the huge complex built in 2000 by Saudi Arabia, one of the most generous donors to Bosniak Muslims. In Bosnia Muslims are 55 percent of the population of four million. Small Wahhabi communities exist in the north of the country as well.

Recently, some mosques in the north were closed for days due to skirmishes between local people and Wahhabis, the incidents being similar to those in Novi Pazar in November. Local Islamic leaders issued stern warnings to Wahhabis. "The Islamic community regulations rule here," leading Islamic cleric Mustafa Ceric told a news conference in Sarajevo. "Those who cannot accept this did not have to come here and don't need to stay."  An opinion poll carried out by the Sarajevo Prizma Polling Agency showed that 70 percent of Bosniak Muslims oppose Wahhabism, while 13 percent broadly support it. Only three percent declared themselves followers. The rest were indifferent to the issue.  Top Islamic cleric in Sanjak region Mufti Muamer Zukorlic has tried to calm the upheaval within Serbian media.

"A stable Islamic community is a strict guarantee against extremism," Zukorlic told Belgrade Radio B92. "The mentality of people in Sanjak is not prone to the ideas which are sometimes even strange to Islam."  Prof. Abdulah Numan who teaches Islamic theology in Belgrade told the same station that "there is not much ground for Wahhabism to take roots."  "They preach 2,000 years old teaching, causing more troubles among Muslims," he added. "However, they do prefer tense regions, where they can easily recruit dissatisfied and confused people. Stability is the best prevention against any extremism."

16 comments:

irving said...

Stability, brought on by education, jobs, and economic growth, are really the best prevention against extremism. Thank you for the article. Very informative.

Ya Haqq!

alex said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ethnicguy said...

Dearest Friends,

Salaam!

I just returned from Bosnia. Well, the region continues to have many problems and people there forget but never seem to forgive and no one there hurts anyone without eventually also hurting themselves. Serb fanatics help to lend credence to the Austrian-inspired Bosniak identity and, of course, there is a downward spiral. You visit Tuzla and Banja Luka and you see tragedy in action and why and how hatred creates hatred. Please see my blog at http://blogscapepaintedwithtea.blogspot.com/ where I try to discuss the spirituality of these issues.

Hvala lepo,

bob

Anonymous said...

To be a adroit human being is to from a make of openness to the far-out, an skill to trusteeship undeterminable things beyond your own pilot, that can front you to be shattered in very exceptionally circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something exceedingly outstanding relating to the get of the ethical passion: that it is based on a corporation in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a weed than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose acutely special attractiveness is inseparable from that fragility.

Anonymous said...

To be a upright benign being is to be enduring a kind of openness to the far-out, an skill to group uncertain things beyond your own manage, that can govern you to be shattered in unequivocally extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something uncommonly outstanding relating to the get of the ethical life: that it is based on a conviction in the up in the air and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a plant than like a treasure, something somewhat tenuous, but whose mere precise attractiveness is inseparable from that fragility.

Anonymous said...

This post presents clear idea for the new visitors of blogging, that
really how to do blogging and site-building.

My web-site - gites frankrijk

Anonymous said...

Hi, i think that i noticed you visited my site so i got here to return the favor?
.I'm attempting to in finding issues to improve my website!I assume its good enough to use a few of your concepts!!

Here is my webpage vakantiewoningen frankrijk huren

Anonymous said...

I've been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Studying this info So i'm glad to
express that I've a very excellent uncanny feeling I found out exactly what I needed. I most surely will make sure to do not omit this web site and provides it a look on a relentless basis.

Here is my webpage; luxe vakantiehuisje

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this web site before but after looking at some of the articles I realized it's new to me.
Anyhow, I'm certainly pleased I stumbled upon it and I'll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!


Here is my page ... huis huren frankrijk

Anonymous said...

Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on.
Any suggestions?

My site; vakantiehuisjes

Anonymous said...

I savor, result in I discovered exactly what I used
to be taking a look for. You have ended my four day long hunt!
God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

my web-site vakantiehuisje frankrijk

Anonymous said...

It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd definitely donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
I look forward to brand new updates and will share this website
with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

My website ... vakantiehuisje frankrijk

Anonymous said...

An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague
who was doing a little homework on this.
And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him.
.. lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!
! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this issue here on your web page.


Feel free to visit my page: vakantiehuizen - luxevakantiehuizen.wordpress.com -

Anonymous said...

naturally like your web site however you need to check the spelling on quite
a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very bothersome to
tell the reality on the other hand I'll surely come back again.

Here is my website vakantiehuisje frankrijk

Anonymous said...

Hi Dear, are you in fact visiting this web site regularly, if
so after that you will definitely get pleasant experience.


my blog; vakantiehuisje frankrijk huren ::
::

Anonymous said...

Hello there I am so delighted I found your blog page, I really found you by
error, while I was researching on Bing for something else,
Anyways I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a incredible post
and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added
in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to
read more, Please do keep up the awesome b.


My blog post vakantiehuisje frankrijk :: vakantiehuisjefrankrijk.drupalgardens.com ::