by Eldin HADZOVIC
A.S. advertised his displayed merchandise that way, staring absentmindedly into the distance. The conversation took place recently in Sarajevo, in front of the Begova dzamija (mosque). There A.S. has a makeshift stand offering books, brochures, multimedia CDs for religious Muslims and various religious items. Along with digital copies of the Qoran, spiritual music and videos of Alija Izetbegovic's funeral service, he offers the biggest hits and compilations from recent battlefields worldwide. Compilations of horror. Afghanistan, Palestine: The Slaughter of Children, Chechnya - only parts five and six, actually, as the first four sold out long ago.
"I am interested in Chechnya. Which part do you recommend?"
"Part six. It shows everything. I have not watched all of it, I have not had the time, but I can attest that it is great. The particularly good part is the one where they kill a captured Russian soldier. You can see everything."
"That is the best part?"
"Of course, they would not have killed him if he had cooperated, but he did not want to go with them, they had to do it," A.S. says, stroking his long beard.
They, of course, are Chechen independence fighters and they make such videos, according to those versed in the matter, to show their financiers that their money is not wasted, but also as a certain appeal to the like-minded to make their contribution to the struggle against nonbelievers. As a result, whoever is interested (and sales suggest there are quite a few of them) can watch bearded guys in uniforms pray in their camps before going into action, a white civilian van hit by a shell fly into the air and, of course, a captured Russian soldier being beheaded to the sound of tekbirs (Islamic prayer, "Allah is great").
Even those not easily disgusted will be horrified by the scenes. It is difficult to describe the shock felt by those who think that cutting a person's throat, for religious or any other reason, is wrong.
"If you do not want that, take Palestine - you will see what they are doing to us," A.S. added quickly, having noticed fear and disbelief on the buyer's face.
Reis is busy: Interestingly enough, nobody in the Rijaset (head office) of the Islamic Community of B-H (Bosnia-Hercegovina) wanted to make a public statement about the distribution of that kind of propaganda materials. A source insisting on anonymity informed us that only Reis-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric and his deputy were authorized to make public statements, but that they were impossible to reach.
The facts are, however, that the materials are sold in front of the Begova dzamija and that sellers do not have the Islamic Community's permission, but that nobody disputes their right to sell them there, either.
Adnan Silajdzic, professor at the Faculty of Islamic Science (FIN), said about the matter: "The Islamic Community is more involved in politics and ephemeral problems than in the basic duties of its mission. Unfortunately, there are no able personnel who would tackle the problem in a pragmatic, serious and analytical way. We are witnessing a real, interesting, but also dangerous phenomenon that Islamic intellectuals have failed to recognize for the time being. Perhaps they simply lack the interest or are too busy.
"It is a social phenomenon that is a result of the crisis people are now going through. Of course, it can be viewed from the cultural, religious and political points of view. We are dealing with a skewed, problematic perception of culture, thus religious culture as well. That is a real phenomenon now, just as the trivial in B-H culture in general. Although it is difficult to measure sociologically, it is a certain spiritual weakness that manifests itself that way. Certain circumstances, particularly of the war and the postwar period, cause a primitive expression of the collective identity and have nothing to do whatsoever with the Islamic understanding of life. Such people are interpreting Islam too abstractly; they are a poor image of B-H Muslims. Muslims should not and must not be identified with those phenomena. Hence the need for a dynamic understanding of the time we live in through holy texts."
"I cannot see how police can allow that. Personally, I had no idea such things were happening. Distribution of such materials is forbidden worldwide and is even punishable," Resid Hafizovic, professor at the FIN, said.
"Everybody abhors the consequences and nobody asks about causes. PhD Karic (Enes, author's note) and I are just working on a translation of Stephen Schwartz's excellent book The Two Faces of Islam, which is actually a basic criticism of Waahabism worldwide. In the book, the author gives information on the terrible things they do. They are fighting not only Russians and Americans, but Muslim traditionalists as well. Waahabism is a phenomenon that is difficult to explain. The whole world is facing it and there is no way to stop it. To be frank, I am scared. I am particularly worried by the inertness of the system, which is not able to tackle this kind of a problem. Finally, I cannot see why you are surprised. It only takes going to the King Fahd mosque (in Sarajevo) during dzuma (Friday prayer) to be terrified."
The Spider of Waahabism: Indeed, things that Nezim Halilovic Muderris, head of the Vakuf Fund and the chief imam of the mosque, talks about during his hutba (Friday sermon), although they sound funny, have a distinctly ominous tone when viewed from that lens: "In Fallujah, according to statements from the US command, Spirits have appeared in the form of enormous spiders, weighing about a kilogram, that only attack US soldiers, and the person who is bitten dies within seconds."
At the moment we tried to get an explanation from Muderris, he was busy preparing for a hajj and did not want to comment on the horrifying videos that were freely sold.
The staff of the bosnjaci.net webzine issued a statement on the sale of the CDs, albeit they had carried the hutba in question: "Our staff are firmly against marketing and selling such and similar CDs and videotapes among Bosniaks and all other members of Islam. We condemn all crimes committed against innocent civilians regardless of religious or national affiliation. Bosniaks must be cautious about the market presence of such materials, because we know what crime and genocide are, as Bosniaks have been victims of genocide for as many as 11 times."
Causes and consequences: Almost two years ago, the Cantonal Court in Mostar sentenced Muamer Topalovic (a Muslim), the cruel murderer who killed three members of the Andjelic family on Christmas Eve of 2002 in Kostajnica near Konjic, to 35 years in prison. Judge Hamo Kebo pointed out that Topalovic had committed the murders out of national and religious motives, and referred to the instinct that the defendant mentioned in his defense as the instinct of a ruthless murderer.
Probably only Topalovic knows whether somebody talked him into the gory attack or he did it on his own, but the question that simply must be asked is: Can we allow a cool and resolute person, or somebody who believes that cutting somebody's throat is a humane gesture, cite a license to sentence nonbelievers to death and start a jihad?
Or perhaps follow in the footsteps of Almir Tahirovic Nune [a Muslim] from Novi Travnik, a former soldier of the ARBiH [Army of Bosnia-Hercegovina], who was killed in 2000 at one of the battlefields in Chechnya, just after arriving? Were his motives perfectly clear to the editor of the Saff magazine, of was his editorial just a rough guess? According to him, Nune "could not watch Muslims suffer without trying to help them, even at the cost of his own life."
According to information subsequently gathered by the MUP, the fans of Chechen or Afghan slaughterhouses can find their favorite movies at at least one other place - less than 100 meters away!