Monday, May 23, 2016

BOSNIA - The Sarajevo Mosque

"Is Saudi-funded mosque in Sarajevo threat to Bosnia's moderate Muslims?" PBS NewsHour 5/16/2016


SUMMARY:  International officials are convinced that Bosnia's brand of Westernized, moderate Islam is the best possible bulwark against radicalization.  The nation's official Islamic Community is cracking down on rural mosques that it says are too in line with Islamists — but some say the true extremist threat lies in the heart of the capital itself.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

MALCOLM BRABANT (NewsHour):  I'm in Central Bosnia, about 100 miles from the capital, Sarajevo.

I'm heading up to a remote mountain village called Osve, which is a place where, supposedly, there are some supporters of the so-called Islamic State.  There have been people who've gone from this village to fight in Syria.  Some have reportedly been killed.  And we're going to meet somebody who used to play rock ‘n' roll, but is now labeled by the head of the Islamic community in Bosnia as someone who is a terrorist.

Izet Hadzic used to be lead guitarist in a band called Black Lady.  After fighting in the Bosnian War, he abandoned what he thought was a decadent lifestyle and sought peace in religion.  He leads one of these so-called radical mosques.  While he's in dispute with the Islamic establishment, he insists he's no terrorist.

IZET HADZIC, Mosque Leader (through interpreter):  Where does it come from to call us terrorists?  It is because that people who look like us, have these beards, are doing such acts in the world, specifically ISIS and this cretin Baghdadi.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Two doors away from Hadzic's small holding is the father of a young man killed in Syria.  Next door is a family Hadzic regards as extreme.  Bosnian intelligence officers are frequent visitors.

Hadzic unequivocally condemns Islamic State.

IZET HADZIC (through interpreter):  You can't call this jihad.  To take a gun while someone is walking down the street with his family and begin to shoot?  Can you imagine soldier doing this?  These people are equal to cowards.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  We had a polite, but frosty reception in Bocinje, a nearby village that was a stronghold of foreign mujahideen during the Bosnian War.  We hoped to interview a man who returned from Syria in 2014, but he didn't want to be filmed because of an impending court case.  His name is Ibrahim Delic.

Dozens of other Bosnians now in Syria are said to want to return because they are horrified by ISIS atrocities.  Crippled and radicalized during the Bosnian War, Delic recently talked to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  Significantly, he criticized the Free Syrian Army, who are enemies of ISIS.

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