|The increase in the number of women wearing face-coverings is connected to the rise in the number of Bosnian Muslims practicing a stricter Salafi interpretation of Islam. Photo: Mario Ilicic
“I was born here. I was raised here… I think of this city as my city,” says M.Z., a medical doctor from the Bosnian capital who has worn the Islamic face-covering veil, the niqab, for the past 17 years.
But even in majority-Muslim Sarajevo, M.Z., who did not want her full name published, says she often faces insults while walking down the street – people call her a ‘ninja’ or ask why she is hiding her face – insults that sometimes cause her to decide to stay at home “because I do not want to spoil my day”.
M.Z. says that her parents did not support her decision to start covering her head because they feared it would prevent her from achieving her goals in life, although they eventually accepted it.
She says she was subjected to criticism from the very beginning, and recalls being told by one of her professors: “You are a good student. I don’t know why you need that thing on your head. You will never succeed in that way. Why are you making your life more difficult?”
She managed to complete her university studies and find a job as a doctor, but
says she cannot cover her face at work.
“It is simply impossible to work with a niqab. I take my niqab off in front of the Health Centre. Children become scared if they cannot see your face. I have accepted the fact that there is no other way to go,” she explains.
But she argues that people who are against her wearing the niqab are effectively telling her to hide her religious identity: “Be a Muslim woman, but only in your heart. Practice your religion inside your house. Pray to God, but you should not tell everyone you do it… I thought I should show what I kept in my soul and my heart,” she says.
She says however that she has noticed that when she gets a chance to introduce herself and say who she is and what she does, people change their opinion about her, irrespective of the fact that she wears a niqab.
|Clerics in Bosnia have differing opinions about whether women should cover their faces completely. Photo: Mario Ilicic
The exact number of women who wear the Islamic headscarf or veil in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not known, because no records are kept.
But the increase in the number of women wearing face-coverings in the years after the war is connected to the rise in the number of Bosnian Muslims practicing a stricter Salafi interpretation of Islam than the one that was predominant in the country before the 1992-95 conflict.
Muslim women in Bosnia and Herzegovina wear headscarves to show that they respect religious rules, but clerics in the country have differing opinions about whether they should cover their faces completely.
A.S., who also did not want her name to be published, lived in Germany during the war and did not know much about religion.
But when she returned to Sarajevo and began researching religious rules, she decided to cover her hair and face. She recalls how one woman told her in the street she was a Baba Yaga – a scary witch from Slavic folklore – while another talked her three-year-old child into throwing stones at her.
“I regularly go to the alley in order to run there. Everybody found it strange in the beginning.
They used to say: ‘Look! A ninja running.’ But they all greet me now,” A.S. said.
Another Bosnian woman who has chosen to wear the niqab, Edina Talic, says she started to cover her face when she began learning the Koran by heart.
|Women who wear the face-covering niqab say they are often insulted or mocked on the streets of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Mario Ilicic
“The niqab is an accessory that makes me feel more dignified. When I put it on, I thought everybody was looking at me, but I felt good and I was at peace,” she explains, adding that wearing it makes her feel like she has a crown on her head.
B.S., who also wears the niqab, says she used to wear a headscarf when she was in secondary school, but then decided started to covering her face completely.
“When you realise it is your obligation to do it, you start moving in that direction. I am trying to do whatever satisfies Allah,” she explains……
The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties?………
From Albania to Bosnia: Brothers Need Arms
In early 1990s Albania offered its help to the United States, which was looking for ways to support the Bosnian Muslims side in conflict in former Yugoslavia.
In view of such tactics, the Clinton Administration’s then-special envoy for Kosovo, Robert Gelbard, had little difficulty in condemning the KLA (also known by its Albanian initials, UCK) in terms comparable to those he used for Serbian police repression:
“ ‚The violence we have seen growing is incredibly dangerous,‘ Gelbard said. He criticized violence ‚promulgated by the (Serb) police‘ and condemned the actions of an ethnic Albanian underground group Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Serb targets. ‚We condemn very strongly terrorist actions in Kosovo. The UCK is, without any questions, a terrorist group,‘ Gelbard said.“ [Agence France Presse, 2/23/98]
Mr. Gelbard’s remarks came just before a KLA attack on a Serbian police station led to a retaliation that left dozens of Albanians dead, leading in turn to a rapid escalation of the cycle of violence. Responding to criticism that his earlier remarks might have been seen as Washington’s „green light“ to Belgrade that a crack-down on the KLA would be acceptable, Mr. Gelbard offered to clarify to the House Committee on International Relations:
„Questioned by lawmakers today on whether he still considered the group a terrorist organization, Mr. Gelbard said that while it has committed ‚terrorist acts,‘ it has ’not been classified legally by the U.S. Government as a terrorist organization.‘ “ [New York Times, 3/13/98]
Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd opened the meeting, flanked by Izetbegovic and Berisha, saying that Bosnia should have the possibility to obtain the weapons it needs for self-defense.
Izetbegovic followed with an impassioned ten-minute speech, in which he asked whether the world’s “indifference” was because the victims in Bosnia were Muslim or because the world did not care. Referring to the arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia, he accused those who “bind our hands” of being accomplices in Bosnia’s tragedy, and then asked for “limited quantities” of defensive weapons.
Berisha followed with what the U.S. cable on the meeting called “an anti-Serb diatribe.” He said that Serbian forces had decapitated children and raped women, and warned that war in Kosovo was “just around the corner.”
The U.S. Treasury Department today designated Dr. Abdul Latif Saleh, a business associate of Yasin Kadi and funder of al Qaeda, as a Specially Designated terrorism sponsor. While the number of designations by Treasury has dwindled sharly since early 2002,…
Historic: 20 Jahre kriminelles Enterprise der Salih Berisha Gang