No Place for Muslims in Europe

A Mosque in Bosnia

Perhaps at this point, the Swiss ban on minarets is old news for most people.  Despite the fact that Switzerland has 400,000 Muslims, voters approved a ban on minarets by 57.5% in the last days of November.  Many of the Muslims living in Switzerland today are Bosniaks and Albanian Kosovar refugees who fled genocide in the former-Yugoslavia in the 1990s.  In their homeland, mosques and minarets were burnt down or blown up, so they sought safety and religious freedom elsewhere.  How horribly ironic- after starting a new life in “civilized” and “democratic” Switzerland, they face the same racism.

Europe is increasingly Islamphobic, especially in the aftermath of September 11th.  Although Muslims in Western Europe will eternally be “The Other,” at least they have some functioning institutions for protecting their rights.  In my opinion however, the intolerance is worse in Eastern Europe, especially in partitioned Bosnia.  Just after the outrageous Swiss ban on minarets, 1,200 Serbian residents of Bijeljina, Bosnia, signed a petition calling for the reduction of volume of the ezan (call to prayer) on the basis of noise violation.  Of course no one is bothered by the ringing of church bells.  This town in northeast Bosnia in the Republika Srpska is one of the many places that Serb troops slaughtered Muslims in the war from 1992-1995.  Bijeljina was “successfully ethnically cleansed” during the war, and the Muslims who returned to their former homes after the war are still terrorized.

When will the war be over in the Balkans?  After twenty years, prejudices and intolerance still reign.  The partitioning of Bosnia adds more tension to the situation, and the Muslims are once again the minority, with increased pressure from Republika Srpska.  Most people stopped talking about the Swiss ban on minarets a few weeks ago, without considering the implications the ban has on other places like Bijeljina.  What is worse- that Muslims are still terrorized by Serbs in their home country two decades after the war… or that refugee Muslims in Western Europe face the same prejudices abroad?

  1. Was this picture taken from the parking lot of a restaurant, near Mostar? There are fish in a small pond outside of the restaurant (where they serve great chocolate crepes)? 😉

    • Christine
    • December 28th, 2009

    Ne znam ništa o čokolade palačinke i ovo nije moja slika. Ale… mislim da ovo minareta je u Mostaru. Actually I think I went to the top this summer haha. Razumeš? Sada učis srpski/bosanski jezik 🙂

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