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The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina By Eldar Sarajli

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Paper presented at the conference ‘After the Wahabi Mirage: Islam, politics and international networks in the Balkans’ European Studies Centre, University of Oxford

December 2010

The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010

Paper presented at the conference ‘After the Wahabi Mirage: Islam, politics and international networks in the Balkans’ European Studies Centre, University of Oxford, June 2010 The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Eldar Sarajli! Central European University Budapest eldarsaraj@hotmail.com

Introduction

By the time the Bosnian writer Ivo Andri! finished one of his most famous books, The Days of the Consuls, concerning the endless intrigues of Western diplomats in late Ottoman Bosnia, most of them had already left the country. A new era of the country’s historical development had begun. The year was 1945 and the Second World War had just ended. Besides securing much needed peace in a turbulent region, the end of the war brought a new social and political setting for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a period of relative prosperity, but also a period in which, for the first time in modern history, Bosnians ruled themselves. There were no viziers, consuls or foreign occupiers. Legitimated by the antifascist resistance and communist ideology, Bosnians joined their Slavic brothers in the creation of Yugoslavia, a socialist and independent

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country that would exist for almost half a century and leave an indelible mark on European history. With the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early nineties, however, came an end to the region’s relative independence from great power intervention. Andri!’s ‘consuls’ came back, driven not only by geopolitical interests but also by the pressing need to tame the outbursts of ethnic conflict that had spread through the region, and particularly through Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shortly after it had declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, the country was set ablaze by violent conflict between its constituent peoples, Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs. After almost four years of fighting and several unsuccessful attempts of the European Union (EC prior to 1993) to negotiate peace, the war was brought to an end by decisive US involvement and a peace deal reached in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, under President Bill Clinton. The end of socialist Yugoslavia, the collapse of the Socialist bloc and the instability of the region left Bosnia and Herzegovina exposed to external influences, both from the East and the West. The vacuum that was created by the breakdown of the entire social fabric in the region was filled with activities of external actors and their local proxies. The country’s exposure to external influence also provided a leeway for many Islamic players to exert their influence and power. Many of them were driven by a sense of solidarity with their newly discovered Muslim brethren in the heart of Europe, but some of them also tried to shape the course of (geo)political events in this country in the direction of their desire. Some of them accompanied humanitarian assistance teams to help the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina during wartime, while many others set out to win the hearts and minds of Muslim Bosnians for their own vision of global or regional Islam. The time of Muslim ‘consuls’ had begun. A decade and a half later, Bosnia and Herzegovina still seems to be dependent on global and regional actors for their survival. The country is on a slow but determined path to become a part of the European Union and NATO. The large majority of the population sees the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina within Western political and military frameworks. Although not as visible as during wartime and the immediate postwar period, various Islamic networks, with

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there is also a network of many new players. My working hypothesis is that there is a new quality of the agency of Islamic networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina in which the direct humanitarian/missionary approach of Arab networks. is being replaced with a more nuanced and Turkish-dominated web of activities aimed at promoting a new vision of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Islam in Bosnia exhibits a patchwork of microidentities that are far from homogeneous and cannot be aggregated into simple categories. of Islam. characteristic of the immediate postwar period. are still present. As I will try to show. and explore the main points of interaction and contestation between them. Tracing the plurality of Islamic networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also a way of studying different embodiments of Islamic identity in this country. with various overlapping and conflicting interests and activities that give shape to a completely new situation on the ground. its role in Bosnian Muslims’ lives. The aim of this chapter is to gain a deeper understanding of this new situation and analyze the emerging relations of power between various Islamic networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their foreign policy perspectives. the spectrum of Islamic identities in Bosnia and Herzegovina is in no way limited to a narrow and dichotomized division between ‘local’ and ‘foreign’ Islamic elements. contesting or reinforcing its social and political role in shaping some foreign relations outcomes. this paper defines an ‘Islamic network’ as any organized group or network of people that holds certain Islamic value(s) as the main reference point. As is the case with other diverse societies exposed to the effects of globalization.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 sponsors from Muslim countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. It hence has a 4 . However. On a methodological note. This interaction and contestation contributes to a process of re-negotiation of Islam’s presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of these identity embodiments have a foreign policy dimension that is expressed in interactions with centres beyond the country itself. It also suggests that these networks’ activities strongly interact with the local Islamic Community. as well as the country’s regional and global position. and of their position within a broader European framework. It will seek to determine the most active Islamic networks and the most influential Islamic players that affect foreign policy choices and perspectives in Bosnia.

In a similar vein. 1. was replaced with the emergence of many other subjects of global politics who started competing for dominance and power. who were those new contestants to the state and its political supremacy? The rise of the global network society has brought identity politics to the forefront of new political struggles in the world (Castells. But. Such a setting was 5 . as well as channels through which this contestation takes place. foreign policy perspectives are broadly understood as visions. 1995: 87. not necessarily activities confined to institutions and individuals in charge of the country’s foreign policy. choices and acts aimed at positioning Bosnia and Herzegovina within a particular geopolitical framework. 1999). Together with the decline of universal narratives and the end of international Communism. organized around their cultural identity as the ideological substance. Various groups. The modern exclusivity of the state to determine the basis of foreign policy. First. started contesting state authority in determining regional and global politics. liberalism brought an end to the ultimate relevance and authority of the state (see Wallerstein. Background: the post-Communist condition and rise of Islam in Bosnia Talking about the foreign policy perspectives of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the context of formal and non-formal networks circumventing the state opens up a number of questions. Before setting out to analyze the main Islamic actors in the country and their foreign policy implications. 2004). highly revered during much of the 20th century. it assumes that the state ceased to be the sole player in the realm of foreign policy.wider scope than studies which look at organizations that are explicitly involved in religious Islamic affairs. I will outline the background situation. points of contestation between local and foreign Islamic actors. and Jacoby. The character of these groups varied from religious and regional to ethnic identity organizations and parties struggling to find their place under the sun. crucial for understanding of Islam in Bosnia. but also those with more mundane identities and activities who justify or legitimize some of their activities within Islamic values or norms. This may include straightforward religious organizations or groups of individuals active in the public domain.

Furthermore. including those acting under the flag of Islam. and subsequently constrained under half a century of Communist rule. 2002). not a distinct. caught between the two established ethno-nationalisms of Croats and Serbs. the period of socialist Yugoslavia and Bosnia’s emergence within it (1943-1992) was crucial. Considered by their non-Muslim neighbours as a remnant of Ottoman invaders. see also Haynes. Bosnian Muslims. The reason ‘Bosnian Muslim’ will be used throughout the paper is because of its Islamic reference. Various Islamic groups have been especially salient in this regard (Castells. Unlike other nations that have formed the Yugoslav socialist union after World War II.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 particularly conducive for organizations acting on behalf of religious values and identities. crucial for the paper’s central focus. both terms refer to the same ethnic group. Islamic groups have also emerged as new subjects of international politics. Bosnia and Herzegovina was organized as one of the constituent Yugoslav republics. The local setting in Bosnia and Herzegovina was especially fruitful due to the presence of a large group of Muslims involved in the conflict itself. the community of Bosnian Muslims has passed several phases of development before it reached its present cohesiveness and independence (see Pinson. Bosnian Muslims had not developed into a distinct and internationally recognized national community. however. The Bosnian Muslim1 historical experience has provided a particular frame for Islamic identitybased politics. essentially. 2004: 13-23. but many nonstate actors (Kepel. have provided a new battleground for various organized identities. the terms ‘Bosniak’ and ‘Bosnian Muslim’ are treated with a slight distinction in this paper. Yet. the end of international Communism and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. 1993). In this historical course. 6 . shaped not only by states. ethnic one. until the beginning of the 1 Though considered to be synonyms. and Bosnian Muslims have participated in the public life both of the republic and the federation. 1997). remained recognized as solely a religious community. with a more ethnic (and secular) meaning attached to ‘Bosniak’ and a more religious one to ‘Bosnian Muslim’. which coincided with the global rise of identity politics. The fact that a covert and non-institutionalized network such as al-Qaida was able to steer the course of global politics on the eve of the new millennium confirms the existence of a new reality. in addition to the tensions of ethnic identity that initiated the conflict in the first place. However. Together with ethnic groups that have entered world politics fighting for their rights and political sovereignty at the end of the 20th century.

the IC encompassed and regulated Muslim religious affairs in all of Yugoslavia. where the IC’s main office was based. Groups and actors who promoted Islam as the foundation of Bosnian Muslims’ ethnic distinctiveness and political development already started to emerge in the late 1970’s. spreading territorially to Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1972: 240-241). The change brought by their recognition as a distinct and equal ethnic community gradually enabled them to formulate a distinct ethnic and political identity. Lacking the cultural institutions Serbs and Croats had established before and during the period of socialist Yugoslavia. paradoxically initiated by the Pan-Islamist current in the Bosnian Muslim political and religious elite. which had become the repository of the community’s identity since its inception in 1882 under Austro-Hungarian rule. This included Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The break-up of a pan-Yugoslav Islamic community was undertaken by individuals and groups close to the emerging Bosniak political elite. 2003). Serbia. The Sarajevo-based IC became the Islamic organization of Slavic-speaking Muslims who identified themselves as Bosniaks. Macedonia and Kosovo. The Islamic Community as the repository of Bosnian Muslim identity The Islamic Community (Islamska Zajednica. brought to the front two phenomena. Croatia. 1993:144. IC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina played a particularly important role in the development of Bosnian Muslim identity. In other cases. see statistical data in Dyker. The break-up of the IC.1960s. The key figures in this movement. later convicted for anti-state activity by Communist rulers. with Islam at its centre. First. eventually became the leaders of the Muslims of Bosnia and drivers of Bosnia’s independence in the beginning of the 1990s. the IC splintered along ethnic lines. Slovenia and the Sand"ak region in Serbia and Montenegro. organized around the Party of Democratic Action 7 . During the socialist period. reconstituting the pre-Second World War ideology of the Pan-Islamist Young Muslims (Mladi Muslimani) group (Bougarel. Montenegro. the IC gained a distinctly political role. With the dissolution of Yugoslavia. but also Muslims in other Yugoslav republics such as Croatia. they were considered to be members of the Serb or Croat nations of Islamic faith (Banac. Bosnian Muslims invested most of their social and cultural capital into the Islamic Community.

The line between religious and political domains was blurred. In this sense. In the first years of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence and Bosnian Muslims’ emergence as sovereign political actors. there was continuity with the Communist period. many authors claim that what has usually been considered the ‘Islamization’ of Bosnian Muslims during the 1990’s was rather an ‘ethnification’ of Islam under the particular Bosnian cap (Bougarel. and both groups acted under the same umbrella of interests. which is not only related to the rise of Islamic politics elsewhere. Diyanet. In its local embodiment. This strategy won the overwhelming support of the Muslim population. Thus. rather than its national (state) institutions. Secondly. when the IC had also been under direct control of state authorities. the state was characterised by distinct Bosnian Muslim features. SDA) and led by Alija Izetbegovi!. 2003: 14)2. There was a significant overlap between religious and political circles: the SDA and IC shared similar visions and concerns over the fate of Bosnian Muslims. the institutional links between SDA and the IC significantly deteriorated. In that sense. with political leaders trying to steer the wheel of the IC into their desired direction. the role of the IC in the development of Bosnian Muslim identity and its relation to politics indicate that the rise of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina had a distinctly ethnic role. but I think that ‘ethnicization’ is a more appropriate term. the overall rise of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the dawn of the new millennium needs to be understood as a broader and more complex phenomenon. as a state-driven and controlled religious institution. This development was confirmed even by the apparent paradox of Bosnian Pan-Islamists’ efforts to detach the IC from its wider Yugoslav base and transform it into an exclusively Bosniak religious community. given Islam’s role in building Bosniak ethnic identity. The only difference was that this time. the relations between the IC and the state (or its Bosnian Muslim part) resembled those of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs. 8 .The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 (Stranka Demoratske Akcije. but the IC remained one of the most influential institutions in Bosniak social and political life. a member of the Mladi Muslimani (Young Muslims) and Bosnia’s first post-independence President. it was much more an 2 Xavier Bougarel speaks of the ‘nationalization’ of Islam in Bosnia. When the end of the war brought powersharing arrangements with Serb and Croat parties. but also to the post-Communist context of the region and its inherent logic of ethnic politics.

2003: 5). Domains of contestation: Who speaks for Islam in Bosnia? The Islamic Community drives a significant part of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s foreign policy. Islam served as a tool of identity building of an ethnic community. Here. last revised in 1997. The points of contestation between the local Islamic authority and transnational Islamic organizations were thus of both external and internal nature. the wartime and postwar arrival of various organizations. rather than as a final destination of identity politics. The present Constitution of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However. The domain of interpretative authority The interaction between local and foreign Islamic actors has resulted in frictions along the ideological dimension of Islamic self-understanding. but in the end reflected the core issue at stake: who speaks on behalf of Islam in Bosnia and what is its relation to regional and global politics? Three of those domains of contestation can be especially highlighted—that of interpretative authority. The religious authority of the IC would only be challenged later. when individuals and groups from various Islamic countries started creating networks of their own in Bosnia. in charge of ‘protecting the authenticity of Islamic norms’ and the assurance of their interpretation and application. as I will show later. The Islamic Community was transformed into an ever more stringent defender of ‘authentic’ Bosnian Muslim identity and into an active player in the field of international relations. 2. or madhhab (Aliba#i!. provides that the IC is. Article VIII provides that the interpretation and performance of Islamic rituals and practices will follow the principles of the Hanafi school of thought. among other things. ranging from interpretative to administrative domains. Additionally. administrative authority. 9 .ethnic than an exclusively religious phenomenon. especially in the immediate neighbourhood of the Western Balkans. and that of the representation of Islam. has posed a challenge for the Islamic Community on a number of grounds and created a basis for a re-negotiation of Bosnia’s foreign policy position. state and non-state actors from Islamic countries.

As in the case of the interpretative domains.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 The arrival of many other Islamic players. belonging to other schools of thought and practice within Islam. the views of its members very often differ significantly. Given the IC’s emphasis on the specific “Islamic tradition of Bosniaks”. the conduct of religious celebrations. media and education. ranging from the running of educational institutions and the administration of networks to the provision of information and advisory content (usually online). it is a matter of a particular ideological vision outlining the orthodoxy and orthopraxis of Islam in Bosnia. however. and the display of popular piety. Mosques. Their activities. Essentially. 10 . religious schools (madrasas) and other distinctively Islamic institutions are under direct rule and control of the IC. to a large extent. has brought these in conflict with the local Islamic practices and produced conflicts along the interpretative dimension of Islam in Bosnia. contests the IC’s authority in administering the everyday social lives of Muslims in Bosnia. Though the IC is institutionally trying to be the sole interpreter of Islam in Bosnia. It is related to a broad spectrum of faith-related issues ranging from forms of religious practice to gender roles. an oversimplification. many IC officials were educated abroad and do not always share the same ideological outlook with their colleagues from the Community. As I will show in more detail. when it comes to interpretative authority. The discrepancies inherent in these understandings affect the capacity of the IC to deliver a homogeneous ideological message while contributing to the overall complexity of the Bosnian Islamic setup. this is an important fault line. The discourse on the dichotomy of local versus imported Islam in Bosnia is. also shared with some intellectual circles in the country (Moe. 2007: 383). The domain of administrative authority The Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also the administrative authority for Bosnian Muslims. Nevertheless. the IC is not as homogeneous as it tends to appear to outside observers. The fissures become apparent in debates on the wearing of niqab. the administrative exclusivity of the IC is also challenged and contested by the presence of other Islamic actors and networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. the details of prayer.

2007: 422 for a similar interpretation). This is often the case when it comes to funding as activities like publishing. as well as an educational interchange between Muslim countries. The administrative contestations within the Islamic sphere in Bosnia also pertain to the job market. belong to a particular branch of Islam. Both the global and local rise of interest in Islam. has produced a significant number of Islamic studies graduates. If one adds the dire economic situation in the country to the equation. there seems to be a certain saturation of the job market with cadres educated in Islamic affairs (see Machá$ek. this very often lies behind many de-secularization processes in the country. these recent developments have challenged the view that the Hanafi branch is the only and exclusive style of practicing Islam in Bosnia.A particularly important administrative domain is related to the financial dimension of Islamic networking. 11 . positions the remaining Islamic players in a setting in which they have to compete over financial support from abroad. The declining international aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina.3 The domain of representation of Islam Although Bosnian Muslims. as already noted. the Hanafi madhhab. including that coming from Islamic countries. 3 Paradoxical as it may seem. The opening of several new madrasas in Bosnia and frequent student exchanges with Islamic countries have further contributed to this trend. As a result. reconstruction and building of mosques and madrasas. The current existence of Islamic actors in Bosnia that contest the practice and interpretative traditions of the local Hanafi mainstream attest to the challenge posed against the IC’s representative power of Islam. The main reasons for this are the increase of the visibility of various alternative (mainly Neo-Salafi) activists and networks across the country and similar developments indicative of a different situation on the ground. from high-school to university level. this particularly mundane type of contestation between Islamic actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes apparent. especially in terms of the establishment of religious education courses in primary schools and kindergartens in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Especially in rural areas. given the large number of local preachers who have studied abroad and the local presence of various alternative Islamic actors. where the mosque is the key community institution.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 In this sense. this is not always the case. there are more than 1. The following are the most frequent nodes of Islamic networking in Bosnia and Herzegovina: mosques. six of them in Bosnia itself. embassies and cultural centres. Currently. education abroad. the interpretative authority over local mosques throughout the country can be dispersed over a number of alternative Islamic actors. the issue is seldom as straightforward and easy to control as its self-representation would lead us to believe. schools. Croatia. Islamic actors rely upon a variety of nodes to exert their influence and promote their particular vision of Islam in Bosnia. Schools The same could be said for Islamic educational institutions in the country. the question of who represents Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina still remains contested (see Moe. Serbia) two Islamic pedagogical academies and one faculty of 12 . 3. Mosques The control of mosques throughout the country yields probably the strongest influence for Islamic actors. Channelling the influence: the nodes of Islamic networking in Bosnia Depending on the nature of contestation. plus one in Zagreb. and one in Novi Pazar. The local Islamic authority tends to use traditional ways and methods of exerting influence on the domestic level. Namely. 2007: 391). organized in six regional groups). eight madrasas (Islamic high-schools. Though the IC tends to dominate the representative domain. while alternative Islamic groups and networks rely on more innovative channeling methods. such as Islamic NGOs. this influence is particularly strong. non-governmental organizations.700 maktabs (informal elementary Islamic schools. Although one might assume strong IC control over the communities. publications and the cybersphere.

the number of foreign humanitarian NGOs working in Bosnia and Herzegovina rose from 50 to 332. between 1994 and 1998. both local and international. location and capacity of these institutions can be found at: http://www. The immediate years after the war have seen a steep rise of the number of NGOs in the country. Given the broad network of NGO activities in the country.Islamic Studies4 (see Aliba#i!. One should also note a number of other schools and educational institutions. 4 More information on the names. which affect the diversification of Islamic self-understanding and agency in the country. Novi Horizonti (New Horizons). In just a four-year period.ba/index. While most of them left with the stabilization of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the end of their humanitarian missions. in both their religious and secular dimensions. 416). Although all of these fall under the administrative umbrella of the IC who controls the curricula and staff.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3685&Itemid=1 See more at http://www. the points of their contestation may be numerous. a few of them stayed on. Several authors pointed out that this autonomy is rooted in the fact that the teaching or managing staff employed at the local level have been educated at Islamic universities in the Muslim world where different Islamic schools of thought and practice are applied (see Moe.5 A significant number of the international organizations have their headquarters in Muslim countries or among Muslim immigrant populations in the UK. To the number of foreign Islamic NGOs in the country should be added a still-rising number of local NGOs concerned with similar Islamic affairs. AIO (Active Islamic Youth) or women organizations such as Nahla. also Machá$ek. 2003: 7 for details). such as Mladi Muslimani (Young Muslims). while the number of local organizations rose from 130 to 200.gov. some act almost independently from the IC. Kewser and similar.rijaset.ba/PDF/?id=529. 13 5 . just as the grounds for channeling their influence. 2007: 401.mhrr. not necessarily Islamic in character. Many private schools and institutions (such as various Turkish schools) in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been established by Islamic actors since the end of the war in 1995. Non-governmental organizations Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with a large number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 2007: 384.

a number of Bosnians studied at some of the universities acclaimed for Islamic studies. In recent years. the number of students who graduated in Sarajevo equaled those who graduated in other Muslim countries.6 However. Syria. However. their current scope of work (see Bougarel. Turkey and Iran (Aliba#i!.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 Embassies and cultural centers The discovery of Bosnian Muslims by their Islamic brethren during the 90’s led many Muslimmajority states to open permanent diplomatic representative offices. 2005: 16) has shifted to cultural exchange. 14). Source: interview with an IC official in Sarajevo. many of them easily found local employment7. and they were eventually eclipsed by more successful scholars and Islamic leaders educated at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo. their formal and diplomatic character can also constrain their ability to interact with and shape local actors. to Pakistan. These actors have the systematic financial support of their home states. from Saudi Arabia.vs. 14 . foreign-educated imams in local mosques throughout the country is said to be 60:40. Iran and Saudi Arabia were among the first. 7 The ratio of local. See more in Aliba#i!. Egypt and Jordan. 2003: 13. such as Al-Azhar in Egypt. the dissemination of books. with notable exceptions. Education abroad The practice of Bosnian Muslims studying at universities in the Islamic world predates recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. when they provided military assistance and material support. Unlike the wartime years. Given the postwar need for Islamic cadres in the mosques and madrasas of the country. which empowers them vis-à-vis local actors. such as embassies and cultural centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. as well as the organization of cultural and promotional events. their impact on the local Islamic scene was limited. founded in 1977 (Aliba#i!. Since the Islamic Community of Yugoslavia lacked higher educational institutions between 1945 and 1977. The wartime and the immediate postwar period brought another generation of students to universities in the Muslim world. 2003: 13). the provision of funds for various local actors and activities. The first group of Bosnian students went to Al-Azhar in 1962. remaining diplomatically active through such institutions ever since. thus representing a potential channel for exerting influence by the countries 6 There are no records of Bosnian students embarking on higher education studies between 1940 and 1950.

Rather.where they had received their education8. the majority of these efforts aimed at educating the population about the basic tenets of Islamic faith. One of the most renowned publishing efforts of the High Saudi Committee was the so-called ‘Family Library’ that had included some 20 titles. Sufi circles have had a noticeable presence. as well as other publications aimed at promoting their vision of Islam. from religious literature aimed to instruct on Muslim rites to translations of famous historical Muslim authors. and the complete translation of Bukhari’s Sahih (see Aliba#i!. Most of the authors whose books found their way to Saudi distribution in Bosnia had a distinct Salafi inclination. including the shortened version of Ibn Khatir’s Tafsir. However. with its official publications. They have published dozens of books on the history of Islam and the Prophet9. Sarajevo. 2003: 12-13). but many other organizations participate actively. the Saudi government and nongovernment networks pioneered this process. 1996. Such is the Zape!a"eni d#ennetski napitak. has a strategy for limiting this type of influence by setting up norms for employment at its local institutions. distributed the Saudi authored and printed translation of the Koran (500. Later developments saw an increase in alternative Islamic actors’ publishing activities. notably the Iranian government and its local representatives. In the first postwar years. social and even political bridges between two countries. besides the IC. Such bridging can always be utilized for channeling particular influence. it is meant to indicate to the potential of such individuals to act as cultural. 15 9 . however. such as those providing that only a person with high-school education from one of the IC madrasas in the country can be employed. the most prominent actor remains the IC. Publications The missionary activity of many of the Islamic networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the war in 1995 included significant efforts at publishing various Islamic materials. The IC. providing a 8 This is not to say that every student coming from abroad to his or her home country necessarily represents a potent channel for the foreign country’s political or social influence. HSC. with few exceptions in cases of local authors whose views had not diverged from the Salafi norm. All of these publications have been distributed free of charge. Among those.000 copies are claimed to be distributed). with translations of Sufi authors such as Nazim Haqqani and Bediuzzaman Said Nursi distributed across the country.

the online sphere is dominated by non-state actors and organizations. the Novi Muallim (New Teacher). The focus of different actors varies along these levels. Just as in Andri!’s novel. but it also shapes the foreign policy domain. influencing the position and perspectives of the country within larger frameworks.ba and Bosnjaci. 16 . recent years have witnessed an increase in online activities of various Islamic actors. foreign powers are contesting not only host actors but also other players on the ground. The IC’s most prominent publications are the weekly Preporod (Renaissance) paper.000 copies). Cybersphere In addition to traditional published materials. a journal with the longest tradition and the widest circulation in Bosnia (around 60. which are moderately influential and active. the immediate regional context of Europe. both in the country and abroad. and the global level. The Islamic Space: Main networks and their influence After the collapse of Yugoslavia. such as Znakovi vremena (Signs of the Times) journal. The cybersphere very often replaces traditional means of communication and interaction and provides an alternative Islamic guidance to readership.net. from fatwas to other counseling and advising assistance. there are three levels of regional interaction that are strongly related to the interplay of Islamic actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the immediate neigbourhood of the Balkans. The contestation among foreign actors affects internal politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. but what they all share in common is the prolific foreign policy dimension of their actions. Bosnia and Herzegovina once again became the playground of global and regional powers. 4.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 number of journals and book translations. which we will explore in this section. and the almanac Takvim. Some of the most prominent ones are the IslamBosna. The Iranian networks publish more academically-oriented journals. Unlike the print publication domain. Most of them are run by Bosnians. aimed at promoting Gnostic and Sufi studies. In these terms.

see also Filandra 2010: 29). educational institutions and waqfs (foundations) in the country. 2007: 382. Its development can be traced to the late 1960’s. 2007: 383). It tends to assert not only administrative.The Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina as regional actor There is little doubt that the IC is now one of Bosnia’s major Islamic foreign policy actors. 2003: 4). the IC’s transformation from a communal organization to a political actor is not a recent phenomenon. when Bosnian Muslims slowly transformed from a religious community to a political (or ethnic) one. following the official recognition of Bosnian Muslims as a distinct ethnic (instead of religious) community by the Yugoslav Communist authorities in 1961. It could be argued that its organizational nature makes the IC an effective player capable of influencing foreign policy outlooks. free of state and political control. through the institutionalization of the fatwa authority in 2005. As an ethnic institution in a diverse region. though contestations between the Sarajevo-centred IC and the local branches can occur. the IC in Bosnia likes to think of itself as an independent organization. In addition to the administration and control of local mosques and its staff. Indeed. it has branches in the neighbouring countries and diaspora. and attempts to require all formal Islamic groups in the country to submit their programs to IC for review (Moe. where ethnic boundaries do not necessarily overlap with state ones. Namely. the IC changed its name from the Islamic Religious Community (Islamska vjerska zajednica) to the Islamic Community (Islamska zajednica) of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However. but also interpretative authority. the IC has developed a natural inclination towards a regional political role. a reflection of the emergence of Bosnian Muslims as autonomous political actors (see Bougarel. Since the end of communism the IC has been managing its own affairs: it exerts institutional control over all mosques. with power to appoint and supervise the administrative and managing staff. Namely. This change indicated a clear tendency to transform the IC into a national institution of Bosnian Muslims that would fill the absence of Bosnian Muslims’ cultural institutions in socialist Yugoslavia. the IC eventually became the ‘national church’ of Islam in Bosnia (Moe. 17 . Especially indicative of this shift was the change in the official title of the IC in 1969.

Turks and most importantly. This was not the first time that leaders of the Bosnian Riyaset and the Grand Mufti Ceri! tried shaping the course of regional political events. The Riyaset responded angrily and accused Serbia of political involvement and manipulation of the Muslim community. the Slavic-speaking community of Muslims in Serbia has been administered by the Bosnian Riyaset (headquarters of the IC). since the dissolution of the Yugoslav IC in 1993 to its ethnic constituents. As I argued earlier. with two separate Islamic authorities existing in Serbia—the newly formed Islamic Community of Serbia10 and the regional office (Me$ihat) of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Serbia11. Ceri!. In addition to the opposition to what they saw as the ‘division’ of Bosnian Muslim minority in Serbia. At times when official state relations between Bosnia and Serbia were significantly low (in 2008). trying to win the allegiance of Sand"ak Muslims’. The majority of Serbia’s Muslims live in the southwestern Sand"ak area that stretches across the border between Serbia and Montenegro.rs. shortly after Kosovo’s 10 11 See more at http://www. a group from the Me$ihat (regional IC office) in Belgrade embarked upon forming a separate Islamic organization to administer the Islamic affairs of all Muslims in Serbia. Similarly. The situation generated frictions between different groups. This included a symbolic support in the form of public statements.org. the leader of the Bosnian Muslim community.islamskazajednica. but also official visits of the Grand Mufti Mustafa ef. This has become particularly explicit in the IC’s role in mediating the recent inclusion of a Bosniak minority into the new Croatian Constitution and in the challenge to IC’s authority in neighbouring Serbia. but also beyond. in 2007. including minor armed conflicts between pro-Sarajevo and pro-Belgrade Muslims in Sand"ak.rijaset. and the Sarajevobased IC has been in charge of the Bosnian Muslim minority in that area.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 Given the complex political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the state’s dependence on the political consensus between opposed ethnic parties. 18 . Slavicspeaking Bosniaks. including Albanians. the IC organized high-level meetings with Serbia’s political leaders. only to end up in a status quo ante. However. the IC has taken on a significant regional political role. including Serbia proper. the Riyaset of Bosnia and Herzegovina extended strong support to its official proxy in Serbia. See more at http://www.

12 The IC administers official Bosnian Islamic institutions in North America and many European countries. such as Senaid Kobilica. indicating his commitment to European integration and the ‘Europeanness’ of the Bosnian Muslim community (see Bougarel. its networking and promoting role for the IC in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been relatively successful (see Sarajli!. This predominantly pertains to the diaspora in Europe and the US. The European level seems to be particularly important for the Mufti Ceri!. The head of IC is the only Balkan religious leader participating in European Islamic forums.declaration of independence in 2008—still not recognized by the Bosnian government—the Grand Mufti Ceri! visited Pri#tina and met local Islamic authorities in a show of solidarity with the former Serbian province. are seen as relatively ‘invisible’ when compared to other Muslim communities. Despite some exceptions. 2005: 25). these groups are rarely involved in European Islamic affairs (see Moe. 12 According to some estimates. Although the Declaration has received some criticism. Mustafa Ceri! is a frequent guest of political events on Islam in Europe and a sought-after speaker on Europe-Muslim relations. Another significant networking tool for the IC is the Bosnian Muslim diaspora in the world. 2007: 376382). 2009: 53-79. the Bosnian imam leading Norway’s Islamic Council. More importantly. 2007: 391). and Moe. this provides the IC with the forum to promote its vision of the institutional culture of Islam in Europe. nearly 7 million descendants of Bosnian refugees live in Turkey alone. 2007 for criticism). The IC in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also active at the regional and global levels. This provides some space for Ceri! to promote his vision of Islam in Europe and help position Bosnia and Herzegovina on the regional and geopolitical world map. 19 . regardless of the fact that a large number of Bosnian emigrants now live in Turkey. with power to appoint or recall official representatives. This was also obvious from the Declaration of European Muslims calling for the “institutionalization of Islam in Europe”. Bosnian Muslims living in the Europe. however. Some European decisionmakers consider him a good representative of the moderate Muslim tradition. such as the European Council for Fatwa and Research. which Mufti Ceri! has been promoting Europe-wide since 2005 (Moe. and hence a partner in negotiations. since relations with emigrant Bosnian Muslims in Turkey are relatively of a different kind.

It is true that up to 4. which was traditionally close to Belgrade. 2002: 237-254). no more than 200 of the former mujahids are recorded as residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. and perhaps in the minds of many decision makers.000 Muslim mujahid (jihadi fighters) from Arab countries and Afghanistan fought in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. state authorities revoked the citizenship of most of these people on the grounds of fraudulent acquisition. 2002: 238). 2010: 21-23 for more details). Some of these countries. following the Salafi tradition. 2005: 16-18. or at least stay inactive. Bosnia and Herzegovina has repeatedly been branded a hotbed of Islamic terrorism in Europe. remained relatively active and visible.300 of them acquired Bosnian citizenship and remained in the country. To a large extent. this reflects the fact that most Muslim states were reluctant to push for action in wartime and postwar Bosnia due to their geopolitical alliances. and some of them had links with Al-Qaida (see Bougarel. Kepel. such as the Active Islamic Youth and similar networks and organizations. around 1. like Indonesia and Libya were part of the Non-Aligned Movement. these organisations pushed for action (Kepel. Although the majority of those Muslim mujahid left Bosnia following the signature of the Dayton Peace Agreement. However. Most of these actors are foreign or local non-governmental organizations and informal networks without formal links to any Muslim country. some networks. even though they may receive occasional state grants and donations. 2001. and thus more likely to support the old ally. However.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 Arab and Neo-Salafi networks Since September 11. 20 . the image of Bosnia as a safe haven and launching pad for Jihadi terrorists has been firmly established in European mainstream media. The result was increased activity of Islamic NGOs and informal networks concerned with the destiny of Bosnian Muslims. the space for non-governmental and non-formal agency opened up and many of these actors acted to fill it. In the context where some Muslim states refrained from direct action. 2002: 248). The failure of ‘global Jihad’ and the transnational Islamic networks to change the course of events in wartime Bosnia drove most radical Islamist actors out of the country (Kepel. Today. and most of those who are are married to Bosnians (see Sarajli!. In the course of several years following the end of the war. while many others migrated to European countries.

Initially. I would suggest that the reason behind the IC’s mild response to its potential rivals is the IC’s desire to prevent a fragmentation of the Islamic front in the country. and the IC still faces challenges to its interpretative authority from Salafi groups that were heavily influenced by Saudi Arabian networks. like Active Islamic Youth and New Horizons. This aid. 2003: 8). including the massive King Fahd Cultural Centre and an adjacent mosque in one of Sarajevo’s residential areas. however. Some of these have been shut down after a few years. The official Islamic Community was not particularly welcoming to Saudi-leaning NGOs. The High Saudi Committee contributed significantly to the IC’s institutional structure. a rapprochement between Salafi circles and the official IC has occurred. To a certain degree. who had been educated abroad and felt close to Salafi philosophy. even though its interpretative and administrative authority somewhat suffered from the presence of contending institutions. Networks of former mujahedins were joined by local Muslims. 21 . some of these organisations enjoyed support from the embassies of Arab states. which might have endangered the smooth flow of Saudi resources that provided support for both the NGO’s and the IC itself13. following the involvement of Saudi Arabia and its contribution of around 150 million USD in the first year of the war. most notably Saudi Arabia and its High Saudi Committee for Assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina (HSC). like Furqan (Aliba#i!. Religious literature donated by the Saudi government tends to reflect Neo-Salafi views. came at a price. but other forms of intervention clearly aimed at changing the content and practice of Islam in Bosnia. 2001. but others remained active. ultimately heralding a split of the Islamic community. resulting in a more moderate outlook on the part of Salafi actors. Saudis withdrew their support. Saudi Arabia’s contribution to the reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina culminated at 560 million USD. which was employed in the reconstruction of infrastructure as well as in the promotion of different cultural and educational activities. while the mosques and cultural centers usually employ Salafi-leaning local staff and preachers. and media reports concerning alleged links to international terrorism. rebuilding more than 200 mosques and constructing several new ones. In 13 According to some estimates. nor was it explicitly opposed to them. which led to the closure of a number of these organizations.Some of the activities were of a humanitarian nature. but soon after September 11.

The Institute publishes the ‘Signs of the Times’ (Znakovi vremena). focuses on academic exchange between the two countries and the promotion of Iranian thought.ba. two are especially important. The relative success of Iranian networks has stemmed from a balanced. in terms of humanitarian assistance as well as arms (Bougarel.ba. assisted refugees and aided in the country’s reconstruction.mullasadra. 17 See more at http://www. See more at http://www. when Iran was one of the first Muslim countries to provide aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina.net. well planned and comprehensive approach. Their activities began during the wartime. took care of the wounded. Iran’s approach to Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war helped in winning the hearts and minds of many Bosnians.ba. an academic journal edited by local scholars on issues of philosophy. the links with official Iranian representatives in Bosnia are very strong.com. at the end of the war.novihorizonti. Furthermore.saff. 14 15 See more at http://www. these actors are represented through magazines such as Saff14 and Novi Horizonti15 and online portals such as IslamBosna. 16 See more at http://www. The Ibn Sina Institute16. during the siege of Sarajevo. Iran sent a number of training staff for the Bosnian army. Iranian networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina are almost exclusively linked to the Iranian embassy. 2003: 16). Though both of these are nominally non-state actors. Similar to Ibn Sina is the Mulla Sadra Foundation17.ibn-sina. and since then has initiated cultural exchange between Iran and Bosnia through various activities ranging from academic and professional visits to publishing and language courses. Iranian networks Unlike Arab and Salafis.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 the media. reaching beyond exclusive humanitarian and missionary domains. Among the current Iranian (officially) non-state actors. It translates and publishes books by Iranian authors and organizes public events and lectures. culture and society. 2002: 247). The Iranian Cultural Center was opened as early as 1994. more than 86 per cent of Bosnian citizens held favorable views of Iran (Kepel. an organization centered on the promotion of Islamic and Gnostic studies and eastern philosophy. 22 . opened in 1996.

Many of these intellectuals. Via such local supporters who seem to advocate an autochthonous vision of Islam in Bosnia (related to Shi’a philosophy through Bosnian Sufi tradition). Gangloff. Being limited to intellectual circles and expressed only in limited media outlets. Turkish religious policy. however. Turkish networks and their impact Although the Turkish state has been active in war and postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina through refugee assistance. At the same time. 23 . aiming to capitalise upon the welcoming atmosphere in Bosniak parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote their cause. Turkey’s official bid to the EU and its membership in NATO have significantly framed its official approach to post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bougarel. 2004: 2. Bulut. and are influential in local communities. 2007: 434. semi-state actors entered the picture. while active in other Balkan countries through the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet %&leri Ba&kanlı'ı). 2005: 4).Iranian influence is particularly effective thanks to local Muslim intellectuals and Islamic studies professors in Sarajevo who have come to promote Iran’s cultural values and ways of thinking. 2006). has only limited impact in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides internal rifts and shifts in the last decade spanning the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. amongst others. who participate in the academic exchange with Iran. Bulut 2004: 8). the bulk of Turkish presence in today’s Bosnia is represented by non-state groups and organizations. such as Re#id Hafizovi! and Adnan Silajd"i!. the overall impact if this influence has been rather mild. Some variation of the ‘Turkish-Islamic synthesis’ that has displaced secular nationalism as the state ideology is hence to be found in the outlook of both state and non-state Turkish actors in the Balkan region (Solberg. write and edit publications by Iranian NGOs in Bosnia. the Iranian actors’ contribution to Bosnia’s Islamic constellation is significant. With the AKP electoral victories in 2002 and again in 2007. reconstruction aid and peace-building. many of them are frequent critics of Salafi actors and of the official IC establishment and fervent defenders of the “traditional fabric of Bosnian Islam” (Hafizovi!. 2003: 19.

when the first framework organization was established. with girls’ and boys’ institutions being physically separated from one another. there are a number of elements that indicate the presence of Islamic references and norms. from separate rooms to a mosque on the newly built Burch University campus in the outskirts of Sarajevo. 18 19 See more at http://www. Unlike the primary schools and colleges. the majority of students at the International Burch University19 are Turkish.com. such as Nurcus and Süleymancis (Solberg. with less than 15 per cent being local Bosnian students.edu. 24 . with more than 20 educational institutions in the region. See more at http://www. while the overwhelming majority of the faculty is Turkish. The Nurcu ideology of blending religion and science in service to God seems to be especially present in most of their activities. with fees of 10. compared to the Bosnian standard. including a university. Although the character of these institutions. 2007: 441).The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 The Gülen movement has so far been the most influential Turkish non-state actor in the Western Balkans. three colleges and three primary schools throughout the country. Thirdly. hizmet (‘service’) is considered to be key motivation among both the local staff and Turkish faculty. prayer facilities have also been established. indicating a socio-cultural profile of the entire organizational system.ibu. a gender separation exists at the college level. The working language in these schools is English and most of them are branded as international educational institutions. a large majority of female students (more than 70 per cent) wear hijab. 20 The university fees are moderately expensive. They have been active in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1998. providing a clear link to similar neo-Sufi movements and networks dedicated to the service to “Allah and humanity”. The large majority of both groups appears to be derived from the middle and upper middle class. including the children of members of the diplomatic corps. from curricula to the overall appearance.bosnasema. Primary schools and colleges attract a number of students.ba. First of all. Secondly.000 Euros for a four-year university level education. the Bosnia Sema Educational Institution18. Finally. The Bosnia Sema is the umbrella organization for seven educational institutions. mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina but also from Turkey and other neighbouring countries.20 Most of the administrative staff is local. is secular.

The newly built campus was opened in early 2010 and was honored by a high-profile visit from Turkey.edu. Erenköy and AMHV (Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Foundation) charity organizations. 25 . Recep Tayyip Erdo%an. founded in 2004.ba. The group of people behind this organization consists of Turkish businessmen and Bosnian intellectuals close to the Deniz Feneri. which represented a significant step towards regional reconciliation. Turkey’s role in this process was crucial and reflected its self-perception as a regional leader in the Balkans. respect and stability in the region. while the majority of students are from Turkey. mainly because of the strategic change brought by Ahmet Davuto%lu’s appointment as the country’s Foreign Minister in 2009. To Davuto%lu’s credit one may also assign the recent adoption of the Srebrenica Resolution by the Parliament of Serbia. a fact that became obvious during a visit to Sarajevo in October 2009. The tripartite ‘Istanbul Declaration’ signed by the heads of respective states’ foreign ministries in April 2010 calls for mutual cooperation. His vision of the ‘strategic depth’ of Turkish foreign policy is based on a shared heritage in the Balkans under Turkish regional leadership. with a significant number of hijab-wearing female students. this act drew Bosnia and Herzegovina back into Turkey’s foreign policy orbit and raised local spirits around the concept of ‘neo-Ottomanism’. The agency of Turkish state and non-state actors seems to converge on several strategic points which might give them a competitive advantage over other foreign Islamic networks. both 21 See more at http://www. particularly between Bosnia and Serbia. though symbolically. Clearly. The signing of the Declaration comes on top of a series of earlier meetings on a trilateral level spearheaded by the Turkish Foreign Minister and the ruling AKP administration. Turkey’s new policy has achieved some practical success in mediating relations between countries in the Western Balkans. Again. but also to the official AKP establishment (Solberg. with English as the main language of instruction.ius. headed by the Turkish Prime Minister.Another education-focused network of Turkish actors in Bosnia is organized around the Sarajevo Education Development Foundation (SEDEF) which runs the International University of Sarajevo (IUS)21. 2007: 451). Even beyond rhetorical gestures at conferences. First. The IUS is of international character. The Turkish state has recently become an active participant in Balkan politics.

This is particularly striking in the case of the cooperation with the Bosnian Islamic Community. if very critical of any Turkish religious state institution. or the public lecture of Grand Mufti Ceri! on the Turkish origin of Bosniaks. This may not be surprising. Conflicts and contestations between them do exist. Difficulties in institutional cooperation between actors within 26 . the IC is affirmative of the growing influence of non-state Islamic actors from Turkey. the way both actors approach Bosnia and Herzegovina circumvents the need for state-related religious activities. popular sentiment is often very receptive to such references. bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to Europe. both non-state and state actors push for a progressive modernization. Secondly. Hence. which appears to be closer to non-formal Turkish Islamic networks than to the institution of Diyanet. and most interestingly. are only two such cases. This cooperation. in social and economic terms. however.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 groups of actors promote a leading role for Turkey among Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This does not mean that religion plays no role in both actors’ activities. Furthermore. trade and development activities that. does not represent a full harmony between various Turkish actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. as one can infer from the expression of solidarity and common belonging among Bosniaks towards Turkey. Korkut 2009: 124-126). Turkish Islamic networks’ dismay of Salafi influences and the affirmation of Hanafi tradition that unites Bosnian and Turkish Islamic mainstream traditions further contribute to the creation of a common Turkish-Bosnian front against external pressures on the local Islamic outlook. 2007: 454. the role of the Diyanet in the country is very weak. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only Balkan country without an official Diyanet representation office. given the self-perception of the IC in Bosnia and the potential competition between the Bosnian state-independent IC and the Turkish regionally influential state-related network (see Solberg. through references to common heritage. The celebrations of a Turkish football victory against neighbouring Croatia in Sarajevo on 20 June 2008. through educational. in most cases reflecting the rifts in Turkey’s internal political and religious landscape as well as slightly diverging visions of leadership. as a result (if not necessarily always intention). Indeed. Ottoman past and shared emotions with the local population. also during 2008. but that any agency that refers to Islam in some way is free of Turkish state control. Thirdly.

Notwithstanding their non-formal nature. and university to the domains of culture and the media. contributing thus to the build-up of group influence in society. such as the education of hijab-wearing students. 23 See more at http://www.23 Other Islamic networks Besides the most influential local. high society.mfs-emmaus. the networking potential of these groups is significant 22 The case is even more interesting given the fact that Sarajevo is one of the two cities outside of Turkey that hosts two Turkish universities. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Turkish. in which Sarajevo.22 Clearly. organized in loose groups around charismatic leaders. no interactions on the management or faculty levels exist. sharing common public facilities and coming from the same country. 24 See more at http://www. They provide necessary links between religious and secular domains. Most of them are not influential alone. who are not allowed onto University campuses in Turkey.ba. Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) is the other case. and besides few courtesy visits. is a case in point. two types are particularly important. saw organized demonstrations with hundreds protesters flying Turkish and Palestinian. but they do serve as useful links with the local population or other foreign actors and organizations. 27 . although located in the same neighbourhood. are indicative of such fissures. are relevant to the point of their members’ integration in other webs of power and influence—from politics. For example. such as education. banners. represents an additional ground for the interplay of Turkish politics between internal actors and the export of conflict-ridden issues. The mirror to Turkish internal dynamics and their foreign reverberations was reflected in recent events around Israel’s raid on Turkish humanitarian ships heading to Gaza.com/bih/sarajevo/clanak/100603104. the non-formal Sufi circles. a humanitarian organization with a local branch in Bosnia whose representative was on board at the Mavi Marmara at the time of the Israeli raid. if not Bosnian. The example of the International Forum of Solidarity (EMMAUS)24.the same domain. similar to Istanbul’s Taksim Square. To the author’s knowledge. among other things. there is virtually no institutional cooperation between the International University of Sarajevo and the International Burch University. First. Iranian and Arab networks. Among other actors. there are smaller actors who take Islam as reference.sarajevo-x.

By 25 26 See more at http://www.ba. research. an Islamic-capital bank that has operated in the country since 2000. Mr.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 since most of their members belong to the higher or upper-middle class with strong links to the country’s institutions of power.cns. Conclusion: Re-negotiating foreign policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Turkish factor The final outcome of the interaction between different Islamic actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina is important in terms of the country’s foreign policy for a number of reasons. See more at http://www. while the other. Moreover. 28 . it could be said that one of the most explicit consequences of Islamic non-state actors’ involvement in the war has limited Bosnia’s ability to lift the stringent visa regime imposed by European and Western states. was appointed to serve as Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Tehran. publishing and cultural events. the head of the Bosnia Bank International (BBI)26. For instance. One of these members is Mr. the alumni organization of former students of the International Islamic University in Malaysia (IIUM) has many members in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are highly influential in Bosnian society and hold many important posts in business. First. especially after 9/11 and the publication of alleged links between al-Qaida and Islamic fighters in wartime Bosnia. The group’s links to Turkish and other Islamic networks are strong and rooted in the fact that some of the members have studied at the IIUM under the professorship of Ahmet Davuto%lu or have connections with businessmen from the Islamic world. from political parties to state institutions. this group’s Center for Advanced Studies was the organization that provided a forum for Davuto%lu’s Sarajevo lecture in which he espoused the ‘neo-Ottoman’ strategy of Turkish foreign policy in the Balkans. Emir Had"ikaduni!. the very presence of Islamic actors and networks and the level of their visibility sets the context for Bosnia’s relation with its neighbours. Secondly.bbi. One such group is organized around the Center for Advanced Studies (Centar za napredne studije. after working as the Secretary of the International University of Sarajevo. 5. Amer Bukvi!. education and diplomacy. CNS)25 and coordinates academic exchange.ba.

Bosnian foreign policy is likely to follow a Turkish orientation. Education-based activities and projects undertaken by Turkish NGOs and businessmen in the country could contribute to a new symbolic constellation and build a new vision of Islam. and the Turkish state-related 29 . which is espoused by Muslims in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. Secondly. especially in terms of religion and its role in public affairs. However. from Iran to Saudi Arabia. both on the regional and global levels of politics. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political development and EU integration will depend on regional reconciliation and cooperation in the Western Balkans. Also. The Bosnian Islamic Community provides an organizational model of independence visà-vis the state and might be an object of desire by many non-state actors from Muslim countries. unlike the fragmented immigrant Muslim communities in the EU who require a particular type of institutionalization of Islam mainly related to the regulation of family law and similar issues.many Europeans. An independent status of their organization is what enables Bosnian IC representatives to play a significant foreign policy role and affect the course of development in the region. especially given Turkish actors’ comparative success in building networks throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the Balkans that have replaced and surpassed the activities of other Islamic state or none-state organizations. the concerted efforts of Turkish actors might shift this perception in another direction. Future developments of in Turkey’s internal politics will also significantly impact the interplay between Turkish networks in Bosnia. conflicts on certain grounds may arise. already demonstrated via the state’s mediation efforts in temrs of Bosnian-Serbian relations. exactly because of this independent character and promotion of their institutional model in Europe. Additionally. local institutions and other actors on the ground. An increased and well-played role for Turkey in mediating regional cleavages and providing partnership relations will further strengthen this orientation. However. Namely. This is likely. both in the EU and beyond. the interaction between Islamic actors in Bosnia can contribute to the debate on the most sensible institutional set up for the management of Islamic affairs. regardless of current internal difficulties. Bosnia still appears to be seen as linked to potential Islamic terrorist organizations.

Even the relations between the Islamic Community and Turkey. these relations can also provide new ground for the creation of alliances that cross institutional boundaries and involve both state and non-state actors in promoting a common Islamic cause. The unwillingness of the Mufti Ceri! to come to terms with the independence of Serbian Muslims from Sarajevo indicates the distinct ethnic and political role assumed by Bosnian Islamic leadership. In this event. this conflict may develop further and influence foreign policy choices of the respective countries. and the other dependent and state-related. In the time to come. The space for Islamic actors’ activities in the country 30 . New interactions and activities are now shaped by more nuanced approaches of actors and networks no longer concerned with the basic survival of the Bosnian Muslim community. Close relations between the IC and Turkish non-state actors and networks might pose a significant challenge to the future relations between the Islamic communities of the two states. The missionary and humanitarian era of the Muslim world’s support to Bosnia is long gone. This role is also indicated by the conflict between two different institutional cultures of Islam—one independent and politically sovereign. the role of the Bosnian IC will be significant. The aims of these actors are business opportunities and cultural exchange that can yield long-term benefits for the countries and groups involved in terms of political and economic influence. and finally through the ‘ethnicisation’ of Bosnian identity—onto Europe is destined to meet immense challenges. Thus. What remains certain is the fact that the situation dominating the initial postwar years in Bosnia and Herzegovina has nowdramatically changed. attempts at grafting this specific institutional model of Muslim representation in Bosnia—forged under Austrian-Hungarian sovereignty. Yugoslav dominance. are not free from potential conflict along the lines of institutional culture.The Return of the Consuls: Islamic networks and foreign policy perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Eldar Sarajli! |Oxford| 2010 Islamic community. similar conflicts are already taking place. as the case with Serbia’s new Islamic Community shows. In the immediate region. Conversely. not only in providing a case model for similar relations elsewhere. in the Bosnian as well as the European framework. Bosnian IC is an independent political player and its institutional model primarily reflects this fact. but also providing links and networks of other actors promoting similar aims.

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