Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Negative Role of Religion in Bosnia Herzegovina

A few days ago, while reading one of many stories about religious objections to Sarajevo's first gay rights festival, I considered that perhaps the problem of religion in Bosnian society has been underexamined. So I was hardly surprised by this article: Outgoing Head of OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Douglas Davidson: "Your Religious Leaders are also Political Leaders"

in which Mr. Davidson explains that "It is unusual that I have had more difficulty dealing with your religious leaders then I had dealing with political leaders." Perhaps one of the main factors making national identity such a tricky and potentially catastrophic issue in the Balkans is precisely because, as he notes, that ethnic/national identity and religious identity are so interconnected there.

Because religious belief is based on allegedly "received wisdom" and 'faith' is widely held to be immune from rational standards of proof and is all but exempt from criticism. This is a very shaky foundation for national identity, particularly in an of religious diversity.


Anonymous said...

the problem is that religious leaders do behave as political leaders.

not only that undermines any effort for democratization, but it also undermines the religious leaders moral authority.

this applies everywhere, but in Bosnia the fact that society is so divided and that nobody except a few people seem to be interested in creating a civic society, this has a bigger impact.

people who have any kind of power or influence over society usually don't like to give it up.

Anonymous said...

A Dutch civil court sided with the Dutch state and dismissed the case against the Netherlands for their failure to prevent Srebrenica genocide in 1995. The Srebrenica enclave had been declared a UN "Safe Haven" under the control of Dutchbat before the massacre took place. Dutch soldiers allowed Serb forces to take away more than 8,000 Bosniak men, children, and elderly - actions which resulted in the worst massacre and the first genocide since the World War II in Europe. Thousands of Bosniak women were forcibly deported from the enclave in a U.N.-assisted ethnic cleansing.