Saturday, June 05, 2010

Ceterum censeo census...

Back in April, commenter Dejo asked about the census in Bosnia, or rather the fact that the Bosnian Muslims were adamantly against including ethnic or religious affiliation on the census forms:

The [Muslim] politicians have built their careers on the war and the myths surrounding that war. If there is a census then a lot of things about the war will come to light including how many Serbs and Croats are still left in central Bosnia, who of those which have been listed as missing or dead are actually alive and the radical changes in the religious dynamic among [Muslims] in Bosnia since they've started importing foreign Mudjahedin during the war. Not to mention how many babies were really born from rape during the war and how many battles were incorrectly listed as massacres. Among other things.


I daresay I have a pretty good understanding of Bosnia and the Balkans in general. Only a few things truly baffle me. The Muslim politicians' position on the census is one of them.

Now, some libertarians may regard opposition to the census in general, or disclosing ethnic or religious background in particular, to be a worthy cause on grounds of liberty, privacy, etc. Be that as it may, it isn't a factor in Bosnia. In most cases, it is easy to figure out one's ethnic or religious (as, by Ottoman legacy, ethnicity is based on religion) affiliation simply by their name. There are exceptions, of course, but they only confirm the rule. So trying to hide that data from census-takers is rather pointless, as it can be extrapolated (at great expense, mind, and somewhat inaccurately) later. Furthermore, in Bosnia ethnicity is a constitutional category; with public offices set aside for quotas of Serbs, Croats and Muslims, being "undeclared" is simply not an option if one desires government work. And there isn't much of another kind these days.

One explanation I've tended to credit for the past several years is that the Muslims simply fear no longer being the most numerous. But would it really fatally undermine their argument about Bosnia being their nation-state (with Serbs and Croats as interlopers or "aggressors") if they became outnumbered? Muslims weren't a majority in 1991, ether - Bosnia was over 55% Christian back then. Yet that didn't stop Izetbegovic from trying to create an Islamic government. The argument holds no water either way, census or no census.

Dejo's explanation above sounds a bit more plausible. The trouble I have with it is that the number of war dead has been pretty well established, at just under 100,000. It isn't really clear how a census would prove how any of those 100,000 perished. However, it stands to reason that official numbers showing precisely how many Serb and Croat villages have been obliterated and how many Serbs and Croats actually live in Muslim-controlled areas, would easily explode the claims of Muslim multi-ethnicity and tolerance.

Currently the lack of a census allows Muslim officials to maintain the fiction that the Muslim-Croat Federation has implemented Annex VII of the Dayton Accords, and that Serb refugees have returned to their homes. But if the census shows that all those Serbs (and in some cases, Croats) returned only nominally and claimed their ID cards so they could reclaim their property, sell it and leave again - as has overwhelmingly been the case - that would certainly deprive people like Haris Silajdzic of the ability to claim they represented progressive humanitarianism, rather than, say, radical Islam. The fact that Muslim lawmakers have tried to propose using ID card data in the census - knowing that it didn't reflect reality - indicates there might be something to this.

And yet... anyone who cares to spend a day researching can easily reach the same conclusion. But myths are myths precisely because they are immune to facts and reason. The Western media (and hence the public) persist in thinking Sarajevo is still a paragon of multi-ethnic tolerance. Yet there's nothing "multiethnic" about a city whose councilmen interpret "diversity" as giving representation to "Bosnians," "Bosniaks" and "Muslims."

Come to think of it, that may be another reason Muslim politicians fear the census. Back in 1991, they actually declared themselves as "Muslims" (Muslimani). It was a 1993 meeting of self-proclaimed national leaders that changed their name to "Bosniaks" (Bošnjaci), in an attempt to assert nation-statehood. What if some people are still confused, and put "Bosnian" or "Muslim-Bosnian" or just "Muslim" on the census form? Oh what a nightmare that will be for the statisticians...

The argument Bosnian lawmakers are currently chewing over - whether Eurostat regulations require ethnic or religious data - is pointless; they may not require it, but they certainly allow it. Besides, Bosnia has its own laws and regulations that must be followed, and the underlying principle of those may be called habeas ethnos. How do Muslim politicians imagine protecting "Bosniak rights" if, by the census, there are no "Bosniaks"?

It just doesn't add up. Such vociferous opposition has to be motivated by something. What are they trying to hide? What are they trying to achieve? Is this malice at work, or stupidity, or both?

As I said, few things about the Balkans baffle me, but this remains one of them.

9 comments:

Dejo said...

I suppose it can be simplified to them having every reason to disallow a census and no reason to allow one. Plus the lapdogs of the Imperials don't need to justify anything as long as the Empire has their back.

Gray Falcon said...

Well, they do have a reason to allow it. Without a census, the EU won't give them any money (not that it has any to spare right now, but that's beside the point). So they have shifted from being against it altogether, to wanting a census, only without the ethnic and religious data.

robert49rml said...

The officials and the majority of the population in Bosnia know the stats by heart. No need to stir any pots. Turkey is making its move and perhaps ethnic and religious affiliation would complicate their political justification to the West who is helping in this endeavor based on "the goodness in their hearts."

jack said...

Was there ever an actual independent state called Bosnia before the 90's?

Gray Falcon said...

No.

jack said...

So what was Bosnia then a nationalist puppet state created by the Turks and Nazis during WW2?

Come to think of it was there actually an independent state called Palestine?

When on C-SPAN Israeli officials and callers say that Palestine was created by some Roman general or Empire.

I know other western backed mostly Islamic and non-Islamic states have a questionable independent history at best or where never independent states which history has been re-written Orwellian style to suit US geo-political objectives. Jamestown foundation is the best example of this.

Gray Falcon said...

Not quite. The Nazi-sponsored "Independent State" from 1945-45 that encompassed today's Bosnia was actually Croatia.

Turkey was neutral in WW2.

Insofar as there is a historically distinct region called "Bosnia and Herzegovina," it denotes the two Ottoman provinces Austria-Hungary occupied in 1878, and annexed in 1908, and which in 1918 became part of the kingdom eventually known as Yugoslavia.

The Hero of Crappy Town said...

Even the regions separately do not correspond to the historical Bosnia and Herzegovina regions. Bosnia is historically a smaller region than it is today, its western frontier ran along the Vrbas, not the Una river. Herzegovina is historically a larger region than today and stretched further south and east. The areas that in 19th century joined Montenegro.

plasticsnob said...

Several possibilities:

1. Muslims are not a majority, nor even quite the plurality they once claimed to be. I seem to recall that most Yugoslavs were either Serbs or products of mixed marriages. Maybe some Muslims, but very few Croats. I have spoken to a half-Serb half-Muslim girl who insisted that Serbs are the largest ethnic group in Bosnia.

2. If the proportions of Serbs and Muslims is relatively the same, or even there is a lower %age of Serbs vis-a-vis Muslims than before the war, that will be a problem for their "genocide" claims. It is well known that the Croat population has been plummeting, largely due to their discomfort in that marriage-from-hell with the Muslims. Most have gone to Croatia, some abroad, and some are even moving to the RS.

3. The census will prove the extent of Muslim ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Croats. It will confirm our suspicions that most large towns in the Federation outside of Mostar (which is split between Croats and Muslims) have been cleansed of their Serb and Croat minorities. I'm talking about places like the entire area of Sarajevo, Tuzla, Gorazde, Gracanica, Gradacac, Maglaj, Travnik, Zenica, Zavidovici, Visoko, Bugojno, Kalesija, Lukavac, Banovici, etc.