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The Moral Stakes in Bosnia: A Pakistani-Born Muslim; the West Treats Muslims as Second-Class Citizens of the World

By Memon, Ali Nawaz | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 1995 | Go to article overview

The Moral Stakes in Bosnia: A Pakistani-Born Muslim; the West Treats Muslims as Second-Class Citizens of the World


Memon, Ali Nawaz, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


The Moral Stakes in Bosnia: A PAKISTANI-BORN MUSLIM; The West Treats Muslims as Second-Class Citizens of the World

By Ali Nawaz Memon

The Bosnian tragedy has caused enormous sorrow to Muslims around the world. Admittedly, it has not been a continuous pain, but rather one with peaks and valleys. In addition, the Bosnia story has revealed something about each of the key players.

Bosnian Muslims

The current helplessness of Muslims in Bosnia is clearly visible. Over the period of their lonely struggle, they continuously expected more from the West, and from the rest of the Muslims, than they have received. They misread the intentions of the West, which were based more on public opinion and on an evaluation of each country's own national interests than the Bosnian Muslims expected. They also vastly overestimated the abilities of their fellow Muslims around the world. This misreading of global realities may have led to the Bosnian government's decision to follow the Slovenian and Croatian examples of declaring independence from the former Yugoslavia without preparing adequately for the negative Serb reaction that was likely to follow, although it seemed to us all to be the right decision at the time.

Serbs

The continuing crisis has revealed the glaring cruelties of the Bosnian Serbs--concentration camps for all young and middle-aged men; rape and impregnation of young Muslim girls, and holding them captive until the "rape children" can no longer be aborted; immediate destruction or occupation of Muslim property as soon as a particular area is conquered; continual shelling and harassment of Muslim areas for months prior to their final capture; destruction of mosques and religious schools; cutting off of electricity and water to all Muslim villages, towns and suburbs over the years of war. In the face of such Bosnian Serb brutality, the solidarity of their fellow Serbs in Serbia and Montenegro and their supporters around the world is noteworthy. The Bosnian Serbs also have received strong, unwavering support from the Russian government and secret sympathizers among such World Wars I and II allies as Britain, France and other former allied powers in Europe. The Serb hatred for Muslims, and the open expression of that hatred, however, has astonished moderates around the world, as has the covert and even overt sympathy of many in the West for the Serbs.

Muslims Around the World

The crisis has again revealed the inability of Muslims around the world to translate their anger into concrete support of Muslims in Bosnia. Whether from a feeling of powerlessness or a lack of interest, Muslimled governments have failed to bring coordinated pressure on their Western counterparts. Instead, most Muslim governments have relied on the West to resolve the Bosnia issue. This unwillingness to assume responsibility made it relatively easy for Muslims to forget about Bosnia when there were lulls in the fighting, and to plead powerlessness in times of increasing adversity. Although France has charged that Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others are sending or financing arms to the Bosnian Muslims with U.S. connivance, there is clear physical evidence only of attempts by Iran, consistently and sometimes successfully, to provide small arms to Bosnia.

The United Nations

The crisis again has exposed the U.

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