Srebrenica

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Teach the Lessons of Srebrenica in all Schools

With sobriety, we remember the massacre in Srebrenica, 20 years ago in an area under UN protection.

Srebrenica has come to symbolise the brutal horrors in Bosnia and the Balkans during the early 1990s.

This was GENOCIDE: the deliberate killing of a people belonging to a nation or ethnic group.

This was in modern Europe, where the Winter Olympics had been held in 1984. This was Europe’s darkest chapter since World War II. This we witnessed in our lifetime.

 

We say: The lessons of Srebrenica should be taught and discussed in all schools.

We owe it to our fellow Europeans, to our own story of freedom, and to our values, to bring light to this dark episode.

So that we may help bring hope and peace to discussions about the world we live in, and the world we want to live in.

 

When Hatred and Intolerance Are Allowed to Reign 

The sheer destruction of lives, the aim to ‘ethnically cleanse’ a people, the organised mass rape and forced pregnancies of women to force ethnic change in babies, the starvation and torture of whole communities of boys and men, the desecration of graves… and for too long a world looked on. Srebrenica and the Bosnian Genocide represent the very worst of European history, when the break up of Yugoslavia led to mass evil and horror. Wounds have been hard to heal. Sadly, a collective sense of remorse and sorrow has not been shown to the communities who were violated. Mothers & daughters have to go about their lives seeing the faces of killers and rapists, and having to experience taunts that hurt deep, but must be overcome.

 

The Bosnian Massacres Had an Impact on Radicalisation 

A number of British Muslim men who are today in their 40s, and who hold strident anti-Western, anti-democracy or even potentially-violent views, formed their outlook of the world as impressionable men, when in their 20s. Shocked and numbed at hearing accounts of, listening to or even watching recordings about the rapes and killings, the Bosnian massacres provided a climate for the messages to spread. Messages that the West had an agenda against Islam, aiming to subjugate or wipe Muslims out of Europe for fear of Islam spreading. These messages spread across universities and other circles. Thankfully, other voices were also there that challenged such ideas and promoted the greater strength in democracy, to bring clarity to mainstream Islamic teachings and perspective to life.

We cannot underestimate the deep impact massacres in the world can have on young minds elsewhere who feel a bond with the victims. When it happened in the heart of Europe against white ‘integrated’ Muslims, feelings and fears ran deep.

 

British Values in Foreign Policy

When the horrors were to be repeated 200 miles away in Kosovo, the West acted decisively in rescuing the helpless and putting a stop to a powerful evil. And the West continued to stand with oppressed communities to help rebuild their shattered lives. Our values of freedom, liberty, social justice, equality, bravery, compassion, of protecting the oppressed and the right to self-defence are hollow if we are not prepared to live by them, exemplify them and be guided by them in our foreign policy. For many, our intervention in Kosovo was a savior, but for Srebrenica, it was too little too late.

 

Srebrenica is too painful a reminder of how evil can resurface and triumph. 

The history and lessons of Srebrenica and Bosnia must be taught in all schools, and the Memorial Day commemorated. 

Education – enlightened discussion – is the best response we can now offer to bring hope for the future of European communities.

We ask all our friends in faith to join us in prayers for peace and healing across the Balkans.

 

ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BRITAIN

       11 July 2015