The Congress of Bosniaks of North America (“CBNA”) sent letters to Representatives Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky to applaud them on the introduction and passing of the “Combating International Islamophobia Act”. The bill would establish a Special Envoy within the U.S. State Department for monitoring and combating Islamophobia, and include state-sponsored Islamophobic violence and impunity in the Department’s annual human rights reports. CBNA’s letter stressed that the establishment of this Special Envoy is a crucial step in the fight against Islamophobia in the United States and around the world. The CBNA letter was also sent to 9 Congressmen and Congresswomen who sit on the Bosnia Caucus and who voted in favor of the bill.
When we think of crimes against Muslims on a global scale, we tend to think of the Rohingya, who are victims of an ethnic cleansing campaign in Myanmar, or Uyghurs who are placed in government run concentration camps in China. Most of the world, however, has forgotten about the atrocities previously committed against Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Bosnia”). During the war in Bosnia between 1992 to 1995, a systemic, state-sponsored campaign of ethnic cleansing was carried out, which resulted in millions of displaced persons, thousands of Muslim men and boys being placed in concentration camps and tens of thousands of Muslim women and girls being tortured and raped. These war crimes and crimes against humanity ultimately “culminated” in genocide in Srebrenica, where over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were brutally and systematically murdered. The war claimed the lives of over 100,000 people and forced over 2.2 million mostly Muslims to flee their homes and become refugees in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Today, 26 years after the war, Bosnian Muslims are still fighting discrimination, genocide denial and glorification of war criminals in their homeland and abroad.
In our letters, we urged Representatives Omar and Schakowsky, as well as legislators sitting on the Bosnia Caucus, to pay close attention to the racist and xenophobic rhetoric that has increasingly become part of the general discourse in certain European countries Their racist and xenophobic rhetoric is not too dissimilar from the dark ideologies that Nazi regimes previously endorsed. Their ideology is spilling across Europe, except that this time it is focused on using Islam and Muslims as scapegoats to achieve “cheap” political gains. Just recently Zoltan Kovacs, the spokesperson for the Hungarian prime minister, stated that Bosnia’s integration into the E.U. is difficult as it is a “challenge to integrate a country with 2 million Muslims” into the E.U. Mr. Kovacz’s express statement is overtly xenophobic, racist and profoundly alarming.
CBNA’s letter stressed to all 11 legislators that discrimination of any form, including, Islamophobia must be rooted out globally with the utmost urgency wherever it may arise.
Photo Credit: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo Credit: © Greg Nash – Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) is seen as members Congressional Progressive Caucus take a photo outside the House Chamber on Monday, July 19, 2021.