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Christians are not our enemies

By Osman Softic - posted Wednesday, 21 September 2005

September 11 is a symbolic as well as significant date, marking the 4th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York.

The terrorists who flew the jets straight into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were devout muslims, making this unique crime all the more threatening to me as a Muslim.

Indeed, it should worry all Muslims and their leaders, particularly the ulama (scholars of Islam). How was it possible that such a noble and peaceful religion, and indeed civilisation, could have become associated with such a heinous crime?


Professor Michael Ignattieff, Carr Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University, succinctly described the phenomenon in his recent book The Lesser Evil as a nihilistic perversion of religious doctrine. Professor Ignatieff asked:

How is it possible that the concept of “jihad” which primarily refers to the obligation of the Muslim believer to struggle against the inner weakness and corruption has been distorted into an obligation to wage an aggressive war against Jews and Americans?

Muslims will not be able to find those answers unless we are ready to admit that this terrorist attack occurred in the first place, and was committed by Muslims asserting their Muslim identity. We also need to be careful to see the world in all its complexity, and not to deal in sterotypes, particularly in the role of the United States of America.

I have had direct experience of religious terrorism, in my case Christian against Muslim. I migrated to Australia from Bosnia-Herzegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia, which was subjected to terrorism for more than 4 years (1992-1995). This was state-sponsored terrorism, strategically planned and implemented by the state of Serbia using its army, reputedly the fourth largest military machine in Europe at  the time.

These terrorists kept the Bosnian capital Sarajevo under siege for four years and ethnically cleansed two-thirds of Bosnia, expelling Muslims and Catholics from their homes. They used indiscriminate rape as an instrument of terror and  they slaughtered old men and women as well as children.

Channel 9 recently aired a program detailing the atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  In one segment armed forces were blessed by their church leaders in a special religious ritual only hours before they shot Muslim civilians. 


This terrorism was directed against the indigenous European Muslim nation. Terrorists, particularly Karadzic and Mladic, claimed that they were forced to kill Muslims in order to pre-empt genocide against Serbs and in order to protect Christian Europe from the advent of Islam that threatened its very existence.

Some Europeans actually believed Karadzic and Mladic and for 4 years European nations did nothing while more than 200,000 innocent people were killed.

In fact, some of the major European powers blamed the victims and proposed a solution, which would have rewarded the Serbian aggressor.

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About the Author

Osman Softic is a Research Fellow at the Islamic Renaissance Front. He holds a BA degree in Islamic Studies from the Faculty of Islamic Studies of the University of Sarajevo and has a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He contributed commentaries on Middle Eastern and Islamic Affairs for the web portal Al Jazeera Balkans, On Line Opinion, Engage and Open Democracy. Osman holds dual Bosnian and Australian citizenship.

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