Muslim identity, ‘Neo-Islam’ and the 1992-95 War in Bosnia and Herzegovina

PhD Thesis

Osmanovic, Sheila 2015. Muslim identity, ‘Neo-Islam’ and the 1992-95 War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. PhD Thesis University of East London Social Science
AuthorsOsmanovic, Sheila
TypePhD Thesis

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Yugoslavia was entangled in a fratricidal break-up. In

none of the other former Yugoslav republics did the conflict turn as violent as in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, which suffered genocide, the greatest number of victims and the highest percentage of
infrastructural destruction. Although its three ethnic communities – Muslims, Serbs and Croats –
were previously well integrated, the break-up of Yugoslavia exposed Bosnia’s unique Islamic
component, which both Serbs and Croats perceived to be the major impediment to the continuation of
a pluralistic society. Islam, however, only turned into a divisive and decisive factor in the
conflict when combined with ethnic nationalism. Previous research into the causes of the 1992-95
war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the break-up of Yugoslavia has identified Bosnia’s long Islamic
heritage and large Muslim population on the doorstep of Europe as specific features influencing
both its rationale and resolution. Yet there has been no analysis of the role and impact of
‘neo-Islam’ (a term I explained below) in the conflict – an omission this thesis seeks to redress.
The thesis uses historical analysis to demonstrate that Bosnia and Herzegovina was frequently
subject to international intervention during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it explores
whether the unique Islamic component was the reason behind this phenomenon, and seeks to comprehend
why Bosnia and Herzegovina has always appeared to pose a problem for the international community,
from the papal persecutions of the medieval Bogumils through to the present day.

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Deposited02 Jul 2015
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