November 3, 2003
It was a good day to die, apparently.
Alija Izetbegovic, possibly the main architect of the dog's breakfast that is today's Bosnia, has finally shuffled off this mortal coil. He was in his late seventies. In his wildest dreams he could not have imagined the sainthood that he would be granted on his demise.
An Associated Press news story, (1) profoundly shocking in either its ignorance or its wilful smearing of truth into innuendo and outright lies, coyly informs the world that a spokeswoman for the Hague arch-witch hunter Carla del Ponte has made a statement to the effect that Mr. Izetbegovic was "under investigation" for unspecified war crimes at the time of his death. The investigation will, naturally, be "halted" now that the investigatee is conveniently no longer with us.
If Izetbegovic was under investigation for war crimes -- as he should have been, and the proof of such crimes would not have been nearly hard enough to find as it is proving to be for Slobodan Milosevic -- then at the very least they should be made public. Izetbegovic created enough hell when he was alive -- why allow him sainthood, and a legacy that will continue to feed that hell?
The AP story goes on to commit the most flagrant lie of all. Izetbegovic, the story states, was a "political moderate." The "political moderate" who held out against all political solutions except one, the one that gave him power; the one who scuttled perfectly acceptable diplomatic initiatives because he was given to understand that the world's superpowers would stand behind him if he chose war.
Which he did. The AP story quotes the ensuing bloody conflict, lasting for almost four years, as costing more than 260 000 dead and more than two and a half million refugees who "fled or were evicted in ethnic purges." Play the ethnic card and these figures will be understood -- as they are meant to be understood -- as figures illustrating the viciousness of the Serbs in the civil war in question. It incorporates lies like the dead turning up to vote (as many so-called Muslim corpses apparently did). It probably does not incorporate the Serb dead. Those, naturally, are not the war crimes that Izetbegovic could possibly have been in the process of investigation for.
The "political moderate" leaves as his legacy the document entitled "Islamic Declaration" in 1970, (2) in which he baldly stated that "... it is not in fact possible for there to be any peace or coexistence between the Islamic Religion and non-Islamic social and political institutions." The noble refusal of Izetbegovic to "divide Bosnia" takes on an entirely different meaning when you realise that the reason for it was not that he wanted to spare the place suffering -- rather, he loved it all so well that he wanted it all for himself, in order to make sure that no "non-Islamic" institutions could sully its purity. This is the man whose flag rallied the most vicious of overseas mujahedeen, the ones that the Western press was bleating about the non-existence of even as training camps and children sired by these men on Bosnian women were being pointed out to them. This is the man whose government reportedly issued a passport to Osama bin Laden not too long before he became the alleged Angel of Death who orchestrated America's brush with tragedy on that bloody September 11. Izetbegovic is now the man whose obituaries in The New York Times call him a paragon of virtue. This is the man who goes on to say, in the Islamic Declaration, "The exhaustive definition of the Islamic Order is: the unity of religion and law, education and force, ideals and interests, spiritual society and State...the Muslim does not exist at all as an independent individual..." This is the man who named those who died in his war for power as holy martyrs, giving the Bosnian conflict the air of a Jihad - the same man who asked to be buried in the cemetery already filled with the bones of young men he already sent to hell in the years he spent bloodily pursuing his quest for power.
An anonymous Internet source (if anyone can claim this for their own, please do let us know so we can attribute it properly) has penned a "Tourist guide" for the post-Izetbegovic Bosnia. The thing is frankly scary. It reads:
Welcome.Welcome to Alija Izetbegovic's legacy.
It was indeed a good day to die.
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References and Resources
1. "Late Bosnian Leader Was Being Investigated," Associated Press (AP), October 23, 2003. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=518&ncid=732&e=10&u=/ap/20031023/ap_on_re_eu/war_crimes_izetbegovic (link valid as of 10/28/03) (back)
2. http://www.balkan-archive.org.yu/politics/papers/Islamic_Declaration_1990_reprint_English.pdf (back)
The Balkans and Yugoslavia on Swans
Aleksandra Priestfield on Swans (with bio).
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