Mr. James Bogle denies [“It is ludicrous”] that Otto von Habsburg was an enthusiastic supporter of the jihadist side in the Bosnian war. Since Habsburg’s support of the Muslim side in the Bosnian war is uncontentious, the claim is “ludicrous” only if Bogle denies that Alija Izetbegovic was a jihadist. On that subject the record is massive and amply documented. For starters I’d recommend a seminal study of the Bosnian war, Unholy Terror by John R. Schindler. (Incidentally, Dr. Schindler, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, has also authored an eminently Austrophile history of the Italian front in the First World War.) If Bogle nevertheless subscribes to the view that Izetbegovic was a moderate-Muslim-multiculturalist, further dialogue does not make sense.
Regarding those Eastern Orthodox clerics [“Wrong! Not only were they invited, but they attended . . . ”], being invited to attend a funeral is rather distinct from being invited to read homilies and say prayers. No Orthodox cleric was awarded such honor, but Bosnia’s Reis-ul-Ulema Mustafa effendi Ceric certainly was.
Bogle’s defense of Ceric, and his categorical denial of the latter’s extremist proclivities and connections [“Nothing. Err . . . at all. Yep. Nix. Not one little reference at all!”], is misguided. The record of the late Archduke’s favorite mufti is long and unpleasant.
Ceric has declared today’s Bosnia—which has a Christian, Serb and Croat majority!—a halfway house between the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). In this intermediate stage, known as the Dar al-Sulh (House of the Truce), “Islam or the shariah cannot be implemented fully, but the government should endeavour to put it into practice as much as possible. . . . [I]t is unrealistic to expect us to implement shariah completely. That’s what I want, of course, but it will not happen just like that.”
Ceric wants it indeed, and he has acted accordingly. Last May he called for Sharia law to be incorporated into the Bosnian constitution while conducting Bosnia’s first Sharia mass wedding in the city of Zenica. Almost two decades ago Ceric launched a campaign against mixed marriages and declared that children born to Muslim victims of rape were “easier to accept” than those born to Muslim women married to non-Muslim men. Last May Ceric openly threatened a “Sarajevo Sumer,” inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, unless grades from religion classes were included in students’ overall grade calculation. To the visiting Turkish prime minister he declared that Turkey “is our Mother, always has been and always will be.”
He advocates a ban on the sale of pork and alcohol in Sarajevo and has suggested that Bosnian Muslims should “follow the example of the world’s one billion Muslims and reject western secular society.”
On interfaith dialogue, in which he has been inordinately active, to his co-religionists Ceric says that it is wrong to expect much from such forums: “Islam is the religion of God and it is the best way forward known to man. In it lies the salvation of humanity, dignity and all that is required for a creature to be classified as a human” (emphasis added). To view non-Muslims as not fully human, as Ceric does, is by no means extreme for a senior Islamic cleric: his position is based on the Islamic scripture, law, and historical practice. It should be noted that Bosnian Serbs and Croats agree on Ceric’s dark wartime role. He is a named co-defendant in the 2009 lawsuit filed by the Croatia Libertas human rights center alleging murder and mistreatment of hundreds of Croat prisoners in Muslim camps. A year later, in April 2010, Ceric led prayers at the funeral of Bosnian Army General Rasim Delic, convicted of war crimes against Serbs and Croats by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
In 2005 Ceric told the BBC that in Europe “governments must essentially buy the trust of Muslims by institutionalizing their faith—giving it state sponsorship through schools, official bodies and so on.” He advocated the establishment of a pan-European representative Muslim body. “At a dinner to honour the [British] foreign guests who attended Mustafa Ceric's installation as Ra’is al-Ulama… Dr Ceric, remembered by many in Britain as the man whose discourse at the Muslim Parliament had reduced people to tears, (…) spoke brilliantly, totally at ease, free of the constraints that the presence of non-Muslims had imposed elsewhere” [emphasis added].
Bogle carelessly misattributes which person I am talking about. I never wrote that Otto von Habsburg“counts among his international activities participation in radical Islamic groups and events, as well as links with Muslim activists banned from the U.S. for terrorist funding and phony Islamic “charities” tainted by terrorist links.” From the hyperlinks provided even a casual reader can see that I was referring to Ceric, not Habsburg.
“Well, well. How unfortunate . . . ” James Bogle quipped on my alleged lack of evidence on the extremist proclivities of Mustafa Ceric, the honored eulogist. What is unfortunate is that Ceric was invited to Munich and Vienna. The very fact that Habsburg asked Ceric to speak at his funeral was a blessing of the storm clouds that have been gathering for decades.
The indignant denial that Habsburg’s support for an “independent and integrated Kosovo” had anything to do with “support of KLA terrorists or, indeed, any terrorism” betrays a conceptual misunderstanding which is in the same league with Bogle’s misunderstanding of the Bosnian war or the bloody jihad in Chechnya. The manner in which Kosovo became “independent and integrated” through NATO-supported KLA terrorism and criminality is familiar to most of our readers.
Denying the validity of an event or quote not because it is not true but because it is not hyperlinked, or the link is out of date, or the source not to the critic’s liking, smacks of desperate pedantry. (Trying to make it sound like I am saying Hispanics in America are Muslim—he “corrects” me by pointing out they’re Christian, “which should make you happy”—is in the same league.) Bogle’s article was additionally laden with disrespectful colloquialisms commonly found on the pages of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids (not to mention his accusation of my “inaccurate misreporting”!). It is unworthy of the kind of debate we have tried to cultivate here over the years; and in any event there are only so many hours in a day.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.