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Bosnia: Revisiting
Genocide in Europe


Lecture by Demir Mahmutcehajic,
President of the Bosnian Community in Britain,
founder member of the IHRC

IHRC Prisoners of Faith Conference, 17 Feb 2002


In a short talk Demir Mahmutcehajic revisits the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia, drawing from the personal experiences of his family, he asks Muslims everywhere to learn some important lessons from Bosnia.

The talk is a concise 16 minutes in duration, but it raises some very important points which will stay with you. A few passages from the lecture are provided below.



As part of my presentation , I wanted to have my father with me. He is here in London, a victim of torture and oppression. But when I asked him to come and stand here in front of you and say it himself - how it was, he declined he said its too painful for him to even remember, to think about it...

Sometimes when he's in a good mood and he feels that he wants to talk about it he tells us bits and pieces - never a full story. What we know is that in 13 months that he spent in a concentration camp in western Herzegovina, he was imprisoned by the Croats, he says that not a single bone in his body was left untouched, he says that not a single nerve in his whole body not feel the pain of beating and torture. Four months he spent in a cell deep underground, there was water up to his waist and there was only one plank of wood on which he was sitting, sleeping, doing everything. They use to throw bread in to the water. Four months he spent like that.

He said the worst fear he had through out that period is whats happening with his family - whats happening with his daughter, his wife, myself and other members of the family. And he said the worst torture was when those animals brought a woman in a cell next to his cell and they told him thats his daughter and he could hear screaming, hear all horrible things, and they made him belive that was his daughter.

What did they want from him? So that they did such horrible things to a person who isn't a practicing Muslim, he doesn't pray five times a day, he doesn't know much about Islam. He was brought up in a communist system which did not allow the education of Muslims. After the second world war that communist system secretly killed Muslim leaders, Muslim scholars so for 50 years Muslims lived in almost complete ignorance.

What did they want from him?

... for him his faith is very important, even though from the definition of many of us maybe he is not a true Muslim. They asked him if you renounce Islam publicly and you say that you are against this war then they will let him go - give him money and a ticket to go to Australia or any other country, united with his family and leave him alone. He did not accept that. He said that after everything that you did to me the only thing left is my faith. This story can be repeated at least 750,000 times in a small land in Europe...


An emotionally charged talk...
pin drop silence ... audience riveted to their seats

... 2.5 million people facing over 20 million enemies, ruthless enemies, enemies who believed they are doing a holy duty by killing Muslims. Enemies who killed a Muslim not because he was praying or because he had a beard or because he was a member of Al-Qaeda or something like that, but because he only had a Muslim name and sometimes not even a Muslim name. Sometimes he would be drinking alcohol, eating pork - not having anything to do with Islam. You wouldn't recognise him as a Muslim, but his father was a Muslim or had a Muslim name and that was a good enough reason to kill him, not only to kill him, but to rape his woman, his children, to plunder, to exterminate people like mice.

My message today is that for us Muslims - doesn't matter where we live, is it west, is it east, south, the moon - doesn't matter, we are seen as the enemy. Regardless if we are Shia, Sunni, Brailvi, Deobandi, black, white, man, woman, practicing, non-practicing - we are the enemy.

We are a threat because there is a seed in everyone of us, even if we are the worst of the Muslim, there is a seed which if its planted can grow in to a system, in to a society that Kufaar fears, that Kufaar knows that sooner or later will destroy their system - when? Allah-u-Alim. But they know it will happen and they work against it. They prepare for hundreds and hundreds of years...

I would like to leave with the message not of weakness but with a message of strength. We Muslims often portray ourselves as weak. We are not weak, we are portrayed as weak, we are strong. We have Allah subhanatalla, or we serve Allah subhanatalla. We don't have to fear anybody, we don't even need a big number, as Dr Ameli said "this dunya for us is a prison so they cant do anything more to us, if they kill us, alhamdullah, if they torture us, alhamdullah, but our duty is not to accept what they do to us with silence or without resistance. To all the brothers all over the world I just send the message of power, message of Islam.


Additional Resources

Politics or Justice, Differentiating between the Nuremberg Trials and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
An IHRC report by Demir Mahmutcehajic which was presented at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban 2001.
Srebrenica: What Justice for 7000 Victims of Serbian Terror?
An IHRC press release on the 7th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica.