The Middle East, the Balkans and Alija Izetbegović - ZEKERIYA KURŞUN

The Middle East, the Balkans and Alija Izetbegović

Nowadays there are elections in many places across the former Ottoman geography like in Turkey. Tunis, Lebanon, Iraq and Bosnia. As neither the Middle East nor the Balkans could achieve real peace after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Bosnian Muslims were subjected to a great genocide in front of the civilized world’s eyes in the 90s. If that had been the only case, it could have been evaluated as an accident of the civilized world. However, the violence against Muslims has been increasing since that day and has almost become a ritual today.

The issue of Palestine which could not be solved in any way and bloody conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya show that regulations carried out in the post-Ottoman era failed. Jerusalem, which enabled all religions to live together in peace for centuries reminisces its old days with deep sorrow. We hope those countries which are in the tune of elections will return to their real agenda as soon as possible. Because our geography and the Muslim world need a true restoration. And this is only possible through societies and leaders who achieve stability and refresh their self-confidence. Therefore, it is of great importance that the elections in Turkey unfold in a way to set an example for the entire Muslim world and a strong structure emerges to stand against the oppression.

The source of anti-semitism is the West

Currently, it is impossible to predict the pain which will arise from a new fireball that the U.S. will cause in the middle of the Muslim world by moving its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14th due to its short-sighted approach. Those who produced and spread anti-Semitism have become so tactless today that they can suggest to remove some verses from the Quran. How quickly did France forget about the incident of Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus? The French, who could not erase that incident which turned the world against the Jewish people and caused society to become their enemy sat on the tail of the U.S. and decided to be Jew-lovers now.

The source of anti-Semitism is the perception developed in Europe against Judaism. I say perception not Christianity. Those who interpret Christianity for their own interests invented anti-Semitism there and spread it across the world. Now they intend to either confess their sins or distract the Jewish people who are about to face the truth. Those who want to abrogate Islam’s holy book on the pretext of terrorism caused by anti-Muslim groups which were created by themselves as in the example of Al-Qaeda should look at history and their own past. They should look at it and learn their lessons.

It is clear that the Ottomans did not interfere in any community’s language, religion and even social structure throughout its 500 years of reign in the Balkans and 400 years of reign in the Middle East. Thanks to its “humanitarian politics,” the Ottoman Empire achieved the longest-lasting peace of the world in the widespread geography which it reigned over. The Ottoman experience is a historical experience which can help to solve religious and ethnic problems occurring in different parts of the world and throughout our geography today. Therefore, this experience should be re-examined under the light of absolute science without any bias. The results which emerge, of course, will not give birth to a new Ottoman Empire. There is no opportunity for that. However, it will be possible to re-create societies which can gain strength from that experience and move forward in peace with trust for the future.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and the symposium Of Alija Izetbegović

In the aftermath of the war, when peace was achieved in the Balkans with a rather artificial agreement, Saudi Arabia carried out some initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the shadow of the U.S. It was carrying out aid activities on the one hand and following policies which would encourage Wahhabism on the other. During those times, I attended an event of Saudi Arabia’s Consul Mustafa Mübarek and met with an important Saudi official who came back from the Balkans. Upon his observations in Bosnia, the senior Saudi official dared that “the Ottoman Empire did not do anything in name of Islam in the Balkans for 500 years.” According to him, Islam and the Islamic philosophy remaining there represented polytheism. The sad part of the story is some Turkish scholars in the meeting stayed silent in response to those comments. After I gave a brief Ottoman lecture, I gave my addressee an awakening by saying that one “Alija is enough” remaining from the Ottoman legacy in an age of lack of men that the Islamic world was experiencing.

It has been 14 years since Alija Izetbegović, who was a wise king, a great leader, a hero of Bosnian Muslims and the symbol of resistance against oppression in the 20th century passed away. Even though the results in Bosnia are insufficient, the fact that the blood of not one innocent person in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been spilled since the poor peace agreement which is better than war was implemented and the current status quo was defined is enough reasons to keep his memory alive.

From May 10 to 11, there will be a “Bosnia and Herzegovina and Alija Izetbegović from Past to Present International Symposium” in cooperation with Friends of Bosnia-Herzegovina Foundation, Gaziosmanpaşa Municipality and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakıf University. The symposium will be held at Gaziosmanpaşa Municipality Culture Center. Apart from Turkish historians who are specialized in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history such as Erhan Afyoncu, İlhan Şahin, Emine Tonta Ak, Hasip Saygılı, Fatma Kaytaz and İlhami Danış; there will be many experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina such as Dzemal Latiç, Amir Duranoviç, Mujo Begiç and Yusuf Puşina.

The symposium is not only designed as a history program but Bosnia and Herzegovina’s international status will also be examined during various sessions. Experts in their fields such as Yücel Uğurlu, Alaaddin Yalçınkaya, Mehmet Akif Okur, Naim Demirel and Hakan Demir are some of the speakers who will present speeches.

However, what excites me the most are the sessions about Alija Izetbegović’s personality and world of ideas which Erol Göka, Mustafa Karamanyol, Süleyman Gündüz and some other experts will focus on.

There is no doubt that this symposium will be a breath of fresh air during our busy agenda. We will be there and await those who also want to inhale this breath of fresh air.


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