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Bloodstained Christmas in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Written 02.12.2009. 16:37
Ante Cuvalo, Ph. D. - President Petar Radielovic – Secretary Alliance of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina***

The slaughter of Andjelko Andjelic (68) and his two daughters, Mara (46) and Zorica (27) took place in the village of Kostajnica, near the town of Konjic, in Bosnia and Herzegovina on December 24, 2002. Andjelko's son Marinko (30) was seriously injured during the attack. They were gunned down in their home while making Christmas preparations.

A couple days later, the killer was caught and he admitted to the massacre without much hesitation. For him this was a heroic spiritual experience. He was doing the will of Allah. The victims were members of a Croat Catholic family who returned a few years ago to their home after living outside the country as war-refugees. The murderer was Muamer Topalovic (25), a Muslim, from a nearby village. The timing of the killings was very symbolic.

To the time of peace, joy, and love for all Christians, this young Muslim responded with hate, fear, and death. The primary message of his evil act was that Bosnia and Herzegovina, more specifically the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity, is a land of Islam and not a place for the Croat Catholics. Stay away from the homes of your ancestors was the murderer's blood-written statement to the Croat refugees.

Topalovic, according to his confession, belongs to two Islamic organizations, Jemiet el Furkan and the Active Islamic Youth. The first is directly and the other indirectly sponsored by Islamic fundamentalist forces from Saudi Arabia.

The massacre in Kostajnica is just a culmination of anti-Croat activities since the Dayton peace treaty was signed at the end of 1995. Shortly before this last Christmas, a Catholic church in Alipasino Polje near Sarajevo was vandalized. Among other "symbols" of hate, the intruders left fecal matters on the altar. A gang of Muslims marched into a Catholic Church in Novo (New) Sarajevo during the services and verbally harassed the pastor and the faithful. A young man was beaten so hard that he ended in a hospital for posting flyers announcing a traditional Christmas concert at the Catholic Cathedral in Sarajevo. A Nativity display in Mostar was set ablaze and in the same city anti-Christian leaflets were distributed calling Muslims, among other things, not to celebrate the "Christian New Year."

The latest massacre and other harassments indicate a clear pattern of violent activities on the part of Muslim fanatics in order to scare away the Croat war-refugees returning to their homes. A series of violent attacks in 1997 and 1998 in central Bosnia resulted in the deaths of seven Croats. Several attacks were made on buildings belonging to Catholics or Catholic organizations, including a Catholic school. A car bomb exploded in Mostar. And even the Deputy Minister of Interior, a Croat, was assassinated on the streets of Sarajevo in 1999.

Quite often these and similar occurrences are dismissed as "incidents" caused by some mentally deranged individuals and/or fanatics. But there are certain patterns that point out that the Kostajnica massacre and other acts of violence against the Croats in the Bosniak-Croat Federation are only symptoms of much deeper processes that are taking place in the country.

First, all of such incidents are done in the name of religion and not nationalism which implies that Bosnia is moving in the direction where every government and every legal system will be seen as illegitimate if it is not Islamic in nature.

Second, in every case there is a Middle Eastern, mainly Saudi Arabian, connection. Under the cover of "humanitarianism" the local Muslims are being "converted" to the Saudi version of Islam that teaches them that Bosnia is the land of Islam and for the Muslims only. Obviously, to use violent means against the "infidels" in order to achieve that goal is encouraged or at least permitted.

Third, the country's judicial-cum-political authorities are constantly "unable" to catch the culprits. Topalovic is the first such offender to be caught. In the case of the murder of Jozo Leutar, the above mentioned Deputy Minister, the Sarajevo authorities with the help of the international representatives jailed and tried six Croats for the crime. But thanks to the perseverance of a couple of local newspapers it was recently uncovered that the persecution's case was knowingly based on the account of a witness who was well-paid by some high government officials in Sarajevo.

Fourth, the representatives of the international community, who are the true rulers in the country, are not undertaking the necessary steps to protect those who are returning to their homes. On the contrary, they are tolerating Islamic extremism in Bosnia because the West, more specifically the United States, is not eager to offend the Saudi rulers by pushing their "humanitarian" cronies from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Fifth, the Islamic religious leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although expressing its dissatisfaction with the intrusion of the Saudi puritanical Wahhabi doctrine and repetitiously proclaiming its adherence to religious toleration, is not doing enough to promote such toleration among its faithful. Fanatics such as the Kostajnica murderer or those desecrating Catholic churches and attacking nuns and people who wear Christian symbols on the Streets of Sarajevo, did not come from the moon. Someone made them religious fanatics. Someone has taught them that Islam permits them to kill innocent Catholic neighbors for a greater religious cause. Those who teach and/or tolerate such teaching are the true murderers. The fact is that such indoctrination is taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina; otherwise, there would not be killings and acts of violence against Christians done in the name of Islam.

Thus, the Islamic leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosniak community as a whole have a grave responsibility in their hands if they want to be taken seriously as peace partners in making Bosnia and Herzegovina a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country.

We hope that the so-called fanatics are not simply a visible expression of a subtle desire and effort of the Bosniaks to squeeze the Croats out of the country, specifically from the Federation, and claim the land as their Ottoman inheritance. If the above mentioned and similar events are a continuation of the struggle for ethnicaly cleansed territories then there is no hope for Bosnia and Herzegovina, its inhabitants, or peace in that land.

Hopefully the Bloody Christmas in Kostajnica will be a wake up call for all those who hold that every human life is holy and that people regardless of their faith and ethnicity can live in peace.


The Alliance of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina was founded in 1994 by Americans Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Alliance was an active promoter of the preservation of a Bosnia and Herzegovina in which the Bosniaks (Muslims), Croats and Serbs would enjoy equal national rights as the three constituent peoples in an undivided country in which the equal rights and freedoms of all its citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity or creed, would be guaranteed.

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