Experts from Gateston Institute of World Policy are concerned that more and more preachers of radical Islamism penetrate to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
These preachers say that Islam in the Balkans “needs a radical revival”. By this, they mean a revival of the most extremist Muslim sects like Wahhabism, Deobandism and the like.
“The situation is really very alarming,” Professor Darko Tanaskovic from the Belgrade University, who once was Yugoslavia’s ambassador to Turkey and, then, to Azerbaijan, says.
“I believe that the reason why radical Islam is becoming more popular in the Balkans is the ideological vacuum which appeared after the Communist regime in Yugoslavia ceased to exist about 20 years ago,” Professor Tanaskovic continues. “It is no secret that propagandists of radical Islamism in the Balkans are supported – both ideologically and by money – by the world’s largest Islamist centers.”
“Before the Communist regime, the majority of Muslims in the Balkans belonged to the so-called Hanafi Maddhab, a rather moderate and non-aggressive branch of Islam. The Communist regime’s official ideology was atheism, which, to a big extent, secularized Yugoslavia, and there was practically no ground for radical Islamist sentiments.”
“The situation started to change after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the conflict in Kosovo and Metohija. Preachers of radical Islamism started to come to the former Yugoslavia – and found quite a few followers there. Today, radical Islamic sects in this region are already superseding moderate ones. I cannot say that the situation is catastrophic now,” Professor Tanaskovic concludes, “but there obviously exists a very dangerous trend that can make it catastrophic one day.”
It may be said (although this scheme would probably be a bit simplified) that preachers of radical Islamism, as a rule, penetrate to the former Yugoslavia from three places. The first one is Turkey (the Balkan Muslims consider themselves to be descendants of Turks).
Secondly, there exists a considerably large torrent of radical Islamists, both ideologists and militants, from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The third place where Islamists – mostly preachers – are sent from is Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Arabian Peninsula. In Saudi Arabia, Wahhabit Islam is the official religion. Wahhabism is probably the most aggressive branch of Islam. For a Wahhabit, practically every non-Muslim is an enemy.
Besides, several international Muslim organizations, like the League of Arab States, also send Islamist propagandists to the Balkans.
From the point of view of the threat of radical Islamism, the Balkans is probably the most dangerous region in Europe – which is not surprising if we take into account that this region is practically the borderline between Europe and the Muslim world. Regrettably, it should be noted that today, Europeans can do little to resist this threat. The pan-European economic crisis, to a large extent, has moved other problems aside. Besides, Europeans still cannot come to a mutual agreement concerning what policy they should lead towards Muslims who come to Europe. Initially, it was a policy of tolerance and of creating a multicultural Europe. Now, more and more European politicians start to come to the conclusion that there should be a limit to tolerance.
However, the US seems to back radical Islamists in the Balkans rather than trying to resist them. Well, this is not the first time that the US helps dubious political movements without thinking about the possible consequences. Take one example from recent history. It is well know that initially, the US backed Afghan militants, who later turned against the US itself.
Why does the US back Islamists in the Balkans? The answer is as follows. It is no secret that the US is not very popular in the Muslim world because of its policy towards Muslim countries, which may be characterized as sort of neocolonialism. To compensate for this unpopularity, the US is trying to win the hearts of Muslims in the Balkans by depicting these Muslims as “victims of the aggressive policy of Serbs”.