Islamist fundamentalism emerges as a new force in Bosnia

Senad Pecanin, a journalist from Bosnia speaking at the seminar
organised by Rand Coporation in Doha Sheraton yesterday. (Shaival Dalal) doha . Islamist fundamentalism has emerged as a new force in Bosnia thanks to funding from Saudi Arabia. Saudi monies has led to Wahhabism being spread in the country, a journalist from Bosnia said while addressing a seminar
organised by the Rand Corporation at the Doha Sheraton.

A director of the independent Bosnian magazine, Dani, Senad Pecanin said that most of the fundamentalists had merged into Bosnian society after marrying Bosnian women.

“After the civil war, mujahideen fighters stayed and married Bosnian women. They started Wahhabism. They have physically attacked people in mosques. They are trying to impose a ban on alcohol. All this is sponsored by Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Pecanin added: “Never before in Bosnia have we seen women moving about in the hijab.” Widows, he said, were asked to convert in return for $50 per month. Many had to succumb as they were unemployed and had no means of supporting their families, he said.

Dani, established in 1992, is a trendsetter as far as journalism is
concerned in Bosnia. Although it has a print run of 20,000 copies, the publication has not been afraid to tackle issues head-on like war crimes, corruption, trafficking in women and drugs. It is also unafraid to name names. Pecanin said amid laughter: “When Bill Clinton visited Bosnia, he gave me 35 minutes and our president, 27 minutes.”

He related tales of the time when he resided in Sarajevo at the height of the civil war and how residents of the city had to survive without water, electricity and limited food supplies.

“Sarajevo under siege was terrible. The city is surrounded by hills and then, they were filled with Serb snipers and rockets,” said Pecanin

He said the UN had been lacking in law enforcement, stating their forces had “allowed Serbs to commit genocide in six safe zones”. According to Pecanin:

“We expected a lot from peace. But unfortunately for journalists, society after the war was not much easier, perhaps even worse. A lot of money provided by the Muslim countries (for rebuilding) ended up in the pockets of people like politicians.”

Corruption, he said, was a permanent issue in his country. Dani has published stories on how the Bosnian embassy in Vienna (Austria) was selling passports to Al Qaeda members. The magazine also unearthed a scandal on how the country’s former envoy to the UN was embezzling funds in order to
continue with his gambling habit.

The country’s top Islamic leader was also accused of not practising what he preaches. Pecanin accused him of “tolerating Wahhabism and being on the payroll of the Saudis”.

Dani published a series of photographs of the Islamic leader up to mischief and the cover story bore his phone number as a sexual hotline. The irate and influential cleric then tried to have advertisements from various entities pulled, but all in vain.

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