Macron’s ‘Time-Bomb’ Remark Betrays Wider Anti-Muslim Prejudice

That concern stems from a notion that a country full of people who are both Muslim and white must be an oxymoron: Bosnian Muslims may seem like good Westerners but they could be secret fanatics, all the more dangerous because they confound racial profiling measures.

Blanket demonisation

Needless to say, Serb and Croat nationalists relentlessly invoked this theme during the 1992-1995 war, presenting themselves as defenders of Western civilisation against Islam.

Croatia's current right-wing president has repeatedly made unfounded accusations about the alleged jihadist threat from Bosnia. Last spring, Bosnian authorities accused Croatian intelligence of a bizarre plot to vindicate those sensationalist claims by planting arms in a Bosnian mosque.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. Photo: EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN

It is true that several hundred Bosnians have traveled to Syria since 2011, some of whom fought alongside ISIS and its rival opposition groups. Commentators often assume that this mobilisation stems from the history of Arabs who came to Bosnia for jihad during the 1990s and the thousand or so local adherents they attracted.

I have spent over a decade interviewing participants in that earlier jihad, both Arab and Bosnian, and following their progress in the years since. The overwhelming majority returned to civilian life after the war. Their views have evolved in vastly different ways, but all drew a clear distinction between joining an active combat zone abroad as an act of solidarity with fellow Muslims versus using violence at home - even the handful who supported the latter as also legitimate.

The blanket demonisation of former jihad participants is not only unfounded, but it also crowds...

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