by Igor GAJIC
After "greeting the Muslims in Banja Luka with 'Assalamu Alaikum' and expressing his empathy for their situation" and advising the Radio Television of the Republic of Srpska reporter in a gentle tone that the interview should have been conducted in Banja Luka, Professor Ceric began his lecture: "I am glad that you were able to come to Sarajevo and conduct this interview here; of course, it would have been better had we been able to do this in Banja Luka."
"First of all, we need to ask the question: Why do religious buildings need to be rebuilt? Religious buildings need to be rebuilt because someone destroyed them," Ceric concluded at the beginning of the interview in the style of the best episodes [of the sharply satirical Italian comic strip] "Alan Ford" with explanations worthy of Inspector Brock [a character from that comic strip]: "This could not have happened by accident; it could not have been some sort of incident; it could only have happened with the knowledge, the planning, the organization of the government in Banja Luka at the time, which obviously remains there today. Therefore, here we have a crime and criminals who committed a sin against God and against the people who hold certain religious buildings near and dear to their hearts."
We are not all the same: After this Ceric cleverly explained the differences between the peoples inhabiting this region, revealing how things look when some are more equal than others: "We are not all the same. Here they defended the Orthodox church here in Sarajevo, it was preserved, and here there was a war, here shells were falling, here people were dying, they had reason to be angry, here in Sarajevo. There were some who came to me to ask me if they might seek revenge for Ferhat-pasha's mosque in Banja Luka on the seventh of May and I told them again: You will not destroy an Orthodox church. This is not an expression of strength because revenge is the first sign of weakness, and tolerance is the highest degree of strength and power and even in this situation, we displayed strength and tolerance."
There was also mention of the [Serb Orthodox] Metropolitan of Dabar-Bosnia, Nikolaj, on whose behalf, Ceric claims, he interceded in order to secure approval for 500,000 marks for the renovation and refurbishing of his residential palace in Sarajevo, with yet another conclusion: "So you see we are not the same; those who are Muslims in Sarajevo and those who are Orthodox in Banja Luka are not the same."
Serbian Orthodox fascism: In asking for further explanation, the reporter got an analysis worthy of the Dragos Kalajic - Dzemaludin Latic tag team, finding even the Patriarch of the Serb Orthodox Church provocative. "We are not the same because among the Serb people there exists a Serb Orthodox fascism which manifested itself while mosques were being destroyed... Thus, we have not heard the voice of condemnation from the Orthodox Church which should have prevented this; and if it could not prevent it, at least it should have condemned it. The fact that Patriarch Pavle wrote a letter to the Mufti of Belgrade saying how sorry he was that the Ferhadija mosque [was destroyed] is comical and I would say it is very provocative on the part of such a respected religious dignitary to simplify matters in this way."
"We are not the same, simply, because the destruction of mosques in an atmosphere in which there was no war is a premeditated act while those of us here protected the Orthodox shrine; therefore, that is the difference, just like the difference between good and evil," said the Reis-ul-ulema, very satisfied with his own observation and honesty. "Here you have good; there you have evil. I would like to be able to speak differently but the truth obligates me to say what I want to tell you."
Vlachs remember: When asked about the politicization of events, everything was obvious to him. "What needs to be praised is praised and what needs to be condemned is condemned. The fact that we were in Kozarac [at a laying of a cornerstone for an other mosque], first of all, there was not one Serb politician there and the organization was the same as this one" and he also explained why there were no disturbances lest anyone should suspect that the Serbs were somehow better a few months ago: "Considering that the liaison was an official from the French embassy who probably worked on convincing the people in Banja Luka that they should do this, that they should demonstrate goodwill and they did it as part of a political game so that people would conclude, you see, they are so good to allow the rebuilding of a mosque which they themselves destroyed long ago."
The Reis did not spare the former government of RS, disproving the theory of the Socialdemocrats that nothing would have happened if only they had been in power: "Mr. Dodik failed to do what he could have, what Ivanic can now do and I have told him: The only significant thing you can do, Mr. Ivanic, is to come to me in Sarajevo and call me and say: 'Please go ahead with your renovation of the Ferhadija mosque; I apologize in the name of the good Serbs, if there are any, that the mosque was destroyed in front of the entire world.'"
Our Kampf: The Reis was not very interested if "there are any good Serbs" but gave his explanation of the bad ones: "Someone raised these people, someone taught them to hate, someone taught them to be aggressive. It wasn't me; they don't go to my mosque, they go to some church, they attend some school."
Then he opened his soul to us, showing that even the deceased are not always mentioned in the best possible light, especially if they are Orthodox; consequently, not even [St. Petar of Cetinje, Montenegrin Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrovic] Njegos was spared. To all Serbs he revealed that they, too, have a "Mein Kampf": "They are reading some kind of books, probably Njegos' 'The Mountain Wreath' ['Gorski vijenac'], a book which has more hate in it than any other book in the world," he fumed, moving in his fervor into the domain of intelligence agencies: "Can you imagine, and I have information to confirm that students were told prior to the opening of Ferhat-pasha's mosque: don't come to school today, take a break; that students in Banja Luka were told to prepare stones in order to prevent the placement of the cornerstone."
I know everything: He also "revealed" who the organizers were and who, he said, should have demonstrated tolerance, not violence. "Instead, Mr. Sarovic, Ivanic and Radisic organize stoning (a putsch into the Stone Age) of people who came unarmed, old women wearing dimije [pantaloons worn by Muslim women], old men."
He did not stop talking. He opened our eyes by unveiling the root causes of the war and revealing the final outcomes: "How will they explain now to the people whom they led into war for purposes of genocide, for purposes of concentration camps, for purposes of rape, how will they explain now to these people who lost their lives as young men, how will they explain to them that what they were telling them in 1993, that they will cleanse out the Turks, that what Njegos said in his book is simply not true. Despite everything, they have not cleansed out the Turks; you see the Turks are returning and the Turks are again building mosques."
Nevertheless, not all elements of what he said were untrue: "By the same token, it is easier now for Radisic to say: 'You know, we should politicize this thing,' instead of coming out in public like a man, if he has any trace of humanity in him, and saying: 'Gentlemen, people, Serbs, this is no way of doing things'."
Mladen Brandt: Of course, the present premier did not go unmentioned: "Instead of Mr. Ivanic coming out like Willy Brandt and apologizing and saying: 'There will always be someone here who will be in your way...' So the problem isn't in politicization but in the internal sickness which the Serb Orthodox people currently has."
And then once again he gave his diagnosis: "This is the best of advice and the best thing that they can be told. Because drug addicts, too, who are under the influence of drugs will never admit they are under the influence of drugs. They always deny that they are ill. In the same way, when a man suffers from fascism, terrorism, of course, he will not admit it but the entire world sees it. Of course, the patient cannot understand this. And until the Serbian Orthodox population understands that it has no alternative but to look inside its soul, to heal itself on the inside, to understand that here we can and must live with all our neighbors and share a common fate, of course, there will be no peace in the Balkans."
Planted reactions: Reis Mustafa Ceric did not wish to justify the shouting and violence which came about as a reaction to Banja Luka and Trebinje incidents: "This is probably a reaction which is unjustified. Because no evil can justify another evil. Against evil we must fight with the power of goodness."
However, he could not resist again delving "into the heart of the problem" again demonstrating an affinity for intelligence work: "According to rumors, this was truly the work of irresponsible individuals, provocateurs, who probably - I don't have proof but I am assuming - might be under the influence of some intelligence agencies whose task is to relativize what happened in Banja Luka so that people will say: 'You see, they are just as bad; you see this here, you see that there... I want to say that this is not Islam, they were not Muslims, this must not and will not happen in Sarajevo, no matter what happened in Banja Luka... I will tell you as the reis-ul-ulema, the chief of the Muslims, that the attack against the Orthodox church in Sanski Most was an act against the Muslims..."
After that he again switched to explaining the differences between "these here and those over there" and the differences in their guilt: "Of course, any sin which we commit here is transformed from a mole hill into a mountain while any sin they commit in Banja Luka, they seek to transform from a mountain into a mole hill."
Interpreter of the Serb language: "Mr. Sarovic, Ivanic and Radic have greater responsibilities toward war criminals than toward the victims of crimes. They are simply the prisoners of these responsibilities. And in order to free themselves of their imprisonment, they must be brave. But obviously neither Mr. Radisic nor Sarovic nor Ivanic has the courage nor the morality nor the honesty to come out before the public and say it without any ifs, ands or buts and without any conditional sentences," he continued, unable to resist becoming an interpreter of the Serb language: "The minister of internal affairs said, on the eve of the opening of the mosque, that he would guarantee the safety of people and property but that incidents were also possible. To the Serbs that means 'You can come, you can stone and you can prevent the placing of the cornerstone.'"
"Therefore, it is necessary for all of us to wake up and for me to say that this has not confused us the least in Banja Luka, it has not discouraged us; we will, God willing, build Ferhat-pasha's mosque despite Njegos, 'The Mountain Wreath', despite those children who threw stones, God willing," the effendi [sir; master; Turkish title of respect] underscored his treatise which can only serve to ensure new clashes and new stones in BiH.
One of them is the announcement that the cornerstone for the Ferhadija in Banja Luka will be placed on the great Serb holiday of Vidovdan [June 28, the feast of St. Vitus, commemoration of the Serb defeat to the Turks in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389]. The alternative date mentioned is another great religious holiday - Duhovi [June 3, 2001, Pentecost, Christian celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles].
Upon checking with the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs, "Reporter" confirmed that it had heard similar rumors as well but stated that to this day the ministry has not received any official request or official announcement of any such event.
"We have also heard rumors regarding those dates in relation to locations other than Banja Luka. In the cafes the talk is that there are plans to place corner stones in Modrica and Prijedor as well; Foca and other cities in the Republic of Srpska are also being mentioned. In our opinion, these stories serve no beneficial purpose because, I repeat, not a single official request has been received by either the RS interior ministry or any other official institution," a source in the ministry told "Reporter".
This was also confirmed by the former RS interior minister, Perica Bundalo, who continues to carry out the duties of this office until a new minister is appointed. Bundalo believes that there is no reason for an increase in tensions in connection with the building of mosques on RS territory.
Another source from the RS interior ministry does not discount the possibility of involvement by intelligence agencies from the other entity working to maintain the level of tension which serves the interests of certain nationalist circles seeking to reclaim their positions among the political leadership of the BiH Federation.