While Bosnia has been hailed as one of the more successful efforts of international peacekeeping, Croation nationalism is making a comeback in the nation with some help from elements of the Catholic Church, reports The Economist (June 25).
The magazine notes that the release and return to Bosnia of Croatian nationalist Dario Kordic, after serving 17 years of a 25-year prison sentence for his role in a massacre of Muslim civilians in 1993, has helped revive hard-line nationalist sentiment. Kordic was given a “hero’s welcome” by prominent Catholic bishop Vlado Kosic. A service to celebrate Kordic’s homecoming was held at Zagreb’s main place of Catholic worship, “prompting a peace-minded NGO to stage a demonstration outside the cathedral . . .”
Kordic’s supporters claim that as a political leader he did not bear direct responsibility for the killings and that the court did not pay enough attention to the Croats killed by Muslims during the conflict. The recent violent attack against a professor who criticized the return of Croat nationalism has created foreboding in the Bosnian-Croat heartland of Mostar. Although church-run peace and reconciliation efforts have spoken against a return to violence, the magazine concludes that “peace-minded Catholics” are facing a double challenge.
“On one hand, they are trying to discourage their Catholic and Croat co-religionists from relapsing into chauvinism; on the other, they see among their Muslim neighbors a resurgence of hard-line Saudi-influenced Islam which has little interest in co-existence. A few hundred Muslims from around Sarajevo have gone to fight in Syria. In Bosnia, as in many European countries, people await the return of these mujahideen with trepidation.”