Excerpted from Q-News
None of this is new. Forced baptism has been part of the militant Serb agenda for many years. Back in 1917, Yugoslavia's future prime minister Stojan Protic remarked: "We have the solution for Bosnia. When our army crosses the Drina, we will give the Muslims twenty-four hours, or even forty-eight hours, of time to become Christians. Those who do not wish to do so are to be cut down, as we did in Serbia earlier."
This consistent attitude of hatred grows from several roots. One is the hoary myth that Serbs were forced to convert to Islam during the centuries of Ottoman rule. But by far the strongest support for this genocidal attitude has come from the Serbian Orthodox Church, historically a dark, seething mass of phobias about Jews and Muslims.
With the death of Titos generation of leaders, the 1980s saw the rapid revival of militant nationalism in Serbia. In 1986 the Serb bishops, eager to regain their influence in the new post-Communist society, endorsed the famous Serbian Memorandum, a document drawn up by nationalist intellectuals which demanded the territorial unity of the Serbian people, and thereby paved the way for Belgrades war for a Greater Serbian state. A leading lay intellectual who contributed to this document, Dragos Kalajic, explained that the Bosnian Muslims do not belong to the European family of nations. They are semi-Arabs, the result of a genetic predetermination and penchant. Hailing such rhetoric, leading churchmen such as Abbot Atanasije and Metropolitan Jovan Pavlovic launched extreme and stereotyped verbal attacks on Islam throughout the late 1980s, ratcheting up the already intense level of hatred and Christian revanchism. Official Christian magazines such as Glas Crkve platformed the ideas of the more inflammatory nationalists in Belgrade in those dying years of Yugoslavia: Glas Crkve even printed the collected works of Vuk Draskovic, the Chetnik militia leader accused of war crimes and playing a pioneering role in the ethnic cleasing process.
The baleful influence of the Church soon percolated into school and university textbooks, further resurrecting the traditionally hateful Serbian view of Muslims. A university textbook on literature published in 1989 describes the epic of Bishop Njegos, a long poem which celebrated the extermination of Montenegros Muslims in the 18th century. The textbook tells students: The Muslims had been the very symbol of all that is evil in this world, Satans seed. But Njegoss sense of justice and righteousness was highly developed, as only that of an Orthodox ruler could be. Thus he could liquidate without mercy the Muslims, as the embodiment of evil and injustice. The impaled heads reminded him and his subjects daily that one must struggle against evil, and that that is the greatest Christian and human duty. For Njegos, revenge was a holy, divine act. Yes, he was in favour of peace and love among people, but only among people: that did not apply to beasts with human faces.
As war broke out in Bosnia in 1992, Church publications stepped up their fierce war of words. The official Church journal Pravoslavlje attacked Serb pacifists as helping the evil forces that are opposed to God. In our present Armageddon they are on the side of the destructive Gog and Magog ...
Faithful to its heritage, the Church hierarchy rallied to the cause of the more extreme Serb militias operating in Bosnia. Priests raised funds for the White Eagles, a fanatical militia operating in the Drina Valley area, and whose commander had proclaimed: We are not only interested in Serbia, but in a Christian, Orthodox Serbia, with no mosques or unbelievers. Similarly, Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan, who has been accused by the UN and America of gross and repeated crimes against humanity, confirmed in an interview with a Belgrade magazine that his funds came above all from the Serbian Orthodox Church. Arkan continues to provide the bodyguards for the Metropolitan of Montenegro, that country's most senior cleric.
As the war unfolded, it became clear that the entire Serb religious hierarchy was ranged behind Karadzic and his nationalists. When in April 1993 the Vance-Owen peace plan for Bosnia was announced, the Serbian Patriarch Pavel, and Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro, urged the Serbs to reject the plan and to press for a just military solution. The Serbian Synod then affirmed its support for a Greater Serbia, following this up with a public procession through the streets of Belgrade in the company of Arkan and his officers. Serbs must fight, the Patriarch preached, now as never before.
The Church-backed militias in Bosnia, their consciences clear thanks to the bishops fervent prayers and blessings, grew ever more ferocious in their attacks on civilians. When news broke in the international media of the Serb concentration camps, whose horrific conditions had been documented by visiting Western journalists, the Serbian Church convened a special synod explicitly to deny these accusations. In the name of Gods truth, the bishops thundered, we declare that such camps neither have existed nor exist in the Serbian Republic of Bosnia- Herzegovina. The official Church publication Pravoslavlje then claimed that no women or children had ever been detained by Serbs, while Patriarch Pavel blamed all atrocities on the Muslims.
In Bosnia itself, every bishop has supported the extremists, and condemned the more moderate Serbs who continue to believe in a multi- ethnic Bosnian state. The Metropolitan of Bosnia, who travels from unit to unit to bolster morale, recently told troops: "We have always won the wars. God will not abandon us this time either. The Bishop of Tuzla has railed against the Asiatic plague" - referring to Islam. A bishop opens every session of the rebel Serb parliament with a prayer. Everywhere, priests, monks and army chaplains preach the medieval message of Christian holy war against the Muslims.
Elsewhere in the Christian world, this bloodthirsty revival of the Crusading instinct has been regarded with indulgence rather than horror. The Greek bishops have voted in their Synod to give Karadzic a medal for services to Christendom, calling him a most devoted servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Russian Orthodox Church has declared that it is the Serbs, not the Muslims, who have been the victims of genocide. And Protestants, well-known for their sentimental view of Orthodoxy, have steadfastly refused to condemn their Balkan Christian brethren. According to veteran Bosnia watcher Adrian Hastings, "the Serbian Orthodox Church has had closer relations with the Church of England than any other. To take a strong line against Serb nationalism could be to displease ones Orthodox friends." He adds: "It has from the start been British policy that a Greater Serbia should be created and Bosnia destroyed. And church leadership in this country, by its erastian inability to challenge that policy, has colluded, and is colluding, in that crime."
The World Council of Churches, backed by the Bosnia Holocaust Deniers among the British bishops, has refused to criticise the Serbian church. In January 1994, the WCC issued a 27-page statement on former Yugoslavia. Astonishingly, this Orwellian document refers to the Muslims only once, in the context of its unqualified claim that violence and brutality are being committed on every side, Serb, Croat and Muslim. It laments the desperate shortage of food and medical supplies in Serbia and Montenegro, but refrains from mentioning the far worse shortage in Bosnia, or the bombardment of Bosnias towns. In fact, Bosnia is not mentioned even once. The statement concludes, predictably, by voicing the WCCs strong opposition to any military intervention.
The conclusion from all this is clear enough. In this conflict between genocidal Christians and peaceful unbelievers, the Churches loyalties have been stated honestly and explicitly. The age-old Christian urge to exterminate the infidel, far from dying with the Enlightenment as claimed, is once again rampant in the heart of Europe. Membership of the European Community is conditional on possessing a shared Christian heritage, observed Jacques Delors in 1993. Crusading Europe, fired by fourteen hundred years of hatred of Muslims and Jews, is sure that it knows what is at stake in Bosnia. As Karadzic himself has prophesied: "The West will be grateful to us one day, because we elected to defend Christian values and Christian culture."
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