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Religion And The Bosnian Genocide?: Did Religion Play A Significant Role In The Bosnia Genocide?

3456 words - 14 pages

The genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina marked the first genocide in Europe since the Holocaust during the Second World War. Bosnia-Herzegovina was originally from the former Yugoslav republic. It became an independent state in 1992. After the death of communist ruler Josip Broz Tito the country fell under oppression. Religion played a significant part in the animosity of religious hatred between religions. Bosnian citizens were identified as either Orthodox Serb, Catholic Croatians, or Bosnian Muslims. The citizens of Bosnia all spoke the same language, had more or less the same Slavonic tongue, but their written language and cultures reflected their religious affiliations. Those who did not follow any religious preference during the war were affiliated with their religious backgrounds. Age old ethnic-religious conflicts resurfaced after the separation of Yugoslavia. The separation created an ethnic-religious battle predominantly between the Christian Orthodox Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims. Acts of violence require legitimation, and religion and religious leaders can provide such legitimation (Hasenclever and Rittberger 642). Mythologies were used to religiously motivated and justify violence and to ensure loyalty of Serbian troops and civilians. Associating religion as ones race would turn religious nationalism into the most violent form of racialist ideology. The use of religion helped persuade genocidaires to torture, rape, and murder the Muslim population. The Serbian mission was to exterminate the Muslim population and to gain complete control of Bosnia. The manipulation of religious representatives, symbols, rituals, and testaments played a significant role in the ethnic-religious genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which claimed the lives of over 2 million victims.
Catholicism was culturally and nationally identified by the Croatians. The Catholic church supported the restoration of an independent Croatia. “The linkage between religion, ethnicity, and national identity has led some to conclude that the Catholic Church bears considerable responsibility for the conflict that occurred in Bosnia” (Powers 230-31). The Catholic church supported nationalism and wanted to end communist rule. The church supported the use of force in self defense, but did not support the lifting of the arms embargo out of fear of more violence. They justified the use of force agains the Serb aggression as an appeal to the international community to stop the slaughter of civilians in Bosnia (Powers 235).
Bosnian Muslims are the only Muslims in the world that are a national and religious group. They were solely targeted because of their religious identity (Powers 239). Bosnian Muslims are considered to be converts from the Catholics who converted during Turkish rule. They were specifically targeted for ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian genocide because of ideological myths. They were considered responsible for the death of Prince Lazar, a Christ figure from Kosovo. The...

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