Distorted Images of Islam: The Case of Former Yugoslavia
Since the 1980s, the former Yugoslavia has witnessed increasing distortion of images of Islam in academic publications, media, and public life. This process has been connected with the changes in power structure in Serbia, and with the new ideological orientation of the Serbian leadership which opted for national exclusivism (ethno fascism). The Muslims have been portrayed as a threat to the realization of the Serbian hegemonist project. In order to mobilize domestic public opinion against the Muslims and to justify future acts against them in the eyes of the West, the Serbian leadership needed an image of Islam as a totalitarian, inherently violent, and culturally alien system on European soil. Such a distorted image has been provided by some influential Serbian orientalists, the Orthodox Church, and some historians. Due to these distortions, these Serbian intellectual circles have become accomplices in the crimes committed against the Muslims in former Yugoslavia during 1992-1995.