Where Are My Muslim Brethren?
Sardar, Ziauddin, New Statesman (1996)
Once again, we Muslims find ourselves between the Devil and the deep blue sea. We are glad that something is being done about Milosevic and his evil plan to cleanse Kosovo of all Muslims. But we are not sure about the new role of Nato. A host of images, from the crusades to the Gulf war, the Holocaust and the carpet-bombing of Baghdad, hurling towards us at great speed, have numbed our senses. If our endorsement of Nato action has been muted, we have hardly been vocal in speaking out on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Kosovo.
There is absolutely no doubt in the mind of any Muslim that what is happening in Kosovo is an intended pogrom, an incipient holocaust. Europe has a long history of turning against Muslims and this history has been repeating itself in cycles since the crusades. The purpose of crusading was to cleanse the earth and purify the blood of the nation. It was St Bernard who first saw Christ glorified in the death of a Muslim. Slobodan Milosevic quite evidently is made in the St Bernard mould, a modern-day crusader. But what is different this time is that Muslims are not the outsiders, the barbarians at the gates of Vienna. They have now replaced the Jews as the feared and hated internal Others.
Muslims are dreaded and loathed not just in Serbia, but throughout Europe. In France, they have been dubbed "blood-thirsty savages" (by Brigitte Bardot, no less) and an aromatic affront to civilisation (by Jacques Chirac). Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front has fought two elections on a singularly anti-Muslim ticket. The designer fascism of the Deutsche Alternative party in Germany is fuelled by anti-Muslim sentiments. The Progressive Party of Denmark openly campaigns on a "Denmark with no Musselmen" ticket, as does the Swedish New Democratic Party.
If Milosevic emerged as a victor, for whatever reason, the consequences for Muslims throughout Europe could be devastating.
Muslims do not see just one man as the enemy of peace in the Balkans, the sole perpetuator of ethnic cleansing. It is the entire system he presides over and all those who participate in its operation. Fascism may be an inflated term but the Republic of Serbia has all the characteristics of the real thing - death squads, concentration camps, extensive paramilitary and police forces and an extreme clerical-nationalist ideology. It is this system we fear; and it is this system that we want to see rooted out.
But the new role of Nato also sends shivers down Muslim spines. …