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EU call for dialogue in Macedonia.
Mr Solana voices EU support during a visit to Tetovo.
Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
European Union foreign and security policy chief, Javier Solana, has called on ethnic Albanians in Macedonia to start talking to the government.
"We think that the fighting is over and that it is time for dialogue," said Mr Solana, who is on a visit to the country.
Mr Solana made the appeal during a high-profile visit to the town of Tetovo, where the government has been conducting an apparently successful military operation against the guerrillas.
"An important message to the rebels is that the best thing they can do is lay down their weapons and start a political life," he said.
A villager in Gajre approaches the charred remnants of his home.
The EU and Nato are now urging the Macedonian Government to turn its attention to political dialogue and addressing the grievances of the Albanian minority.
During his visit, Mr Solana held talks with Arben Xhaferi, leader of Macedonia's moderate Albanian party, the Democratic Party of Albanians.
He later walked through the town square arm-in-arm with Mayor Ismail Murtezan.
Speaking to the BBC after his visit, Mr Solana said it had given him the chance to express the EU's support for all communities in Macedonia.
The overwhelming majority of the Albanian population did not want violence, but a united community where everyone could feel comfortable, he said.
"We would be making a terrible mistake to equate the ethnic Albanian people with a few rebels."
The BBC's Peter Biles, who is in Tetovo, says the international community, fearful of a wider Balkan conflict, is doing everything it can to help Macedonia.
On Monday, Nato Secretary-General George Robertson commended the Macedonian Government for driving ethnic Albanian guerrillas out of territory around the northern city of Tetovo.
Lord Robertson said the government had shown restraint and firmness in forcing the rebels into Kosovo.
Nato is strengthening patrols on the Kosovo side of the border to prevent future infiltrations by guerrillas, who earlier abandoned their headquarters in the hills above Tetovo.
Macedonia's offensive has provoked anger among other ethnic Albanians.
"I want to be blunt," Lord Robertson said. "It is a united Macedonia or another Balkan bloodbath."
But US Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed reservations about the situation.
Speaking in Washington, he renewed support for the Macedonian Government but said he did not believe the fighting was "anywhere near over".
The Macedonian Government says the guerrillas have been driven across the border into Kosovo and they will now become the problem of the K-For Nato-led peacekeeping force there.
However, BBC correspondents say that while the operation has been considered a success inside Macedonia, the intensive bombardment of the rebel-held areas raised international concern about the military's use of force.
It has also intensified regional reaction. In Pristina, capital of neighbouring neighbouring Kosovo, about 10,000 people rallied to support the rebels.
Reporters who reached the headquarters of the National Liberation Army (NLA) rebels, in the mountain village of Selce, found it deserted.
The violence has driven some ethnic Albanian families from their homes.
The AFP news agency reported from the scene that the rebels appeared to have left in a hurry, abandoning weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns by the road side.
But there were no signs of Macedonian troops in the village.
Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees fled across the border into Kosovo after a 12-hour night trek through snow-covered mountain passes. Some said they had come under fire.
UK troops to boost Macedonian security.
More than 3,000 UK troops are serving in Kosovo.
Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
Britain is sending an extra 120 troops to Kosovo to help the authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia overcome Albanian rebels.
The move, announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Commons, came as the Macedonians said they had successfully completed their military operation against rebels near the city of Tetovo.
The government said the rebels had been driven across the border into Kosovo.
Mr Blair told MPs British troops already based in Kosovo would form a new 400-strong battle group alongside Scandinavian soldiers to strengthen the border zone with Macedonia.
The aim is to prevent the rebels returning across the border and stepping up the insurgency.
From next month the battle group will be enhanced with a unit of British unmanned Phoenix reconnaissance 'drones', with 120 soldiers, to improve intelligence gathering capabilities.
Mr Blair made the announcement during a Commons statement on the European Union summit in Stockholm, which issued a statement backing the Macedonian government's actions so far.
He told MPs that "armed Albanian extremists" must not be allowed to succeed in their aim of destabilising the Macedonian state.
"Macedonian has started to build a multi-ethnic society and it is in all our interests that the country succeeds and doesn't polarise into separate Slav and Albanian communities."
Failure to protect Macedonia's borders could result in a carbon copy of the Kosovo situation, Mr Blair warned.
Earlier Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said: "I now hope that the message will get across to the terrorists that there is no support anywhere in Europe for any attempt to re-draw boundaries in blood."
But he stressed that the response of the Macedonian government must be "proportionate" to the terrorist threat.
Opposition leader William Hague welcomed the announcement and said he backed the government's measures.
Iain Duncan Smith, who speaks for the Tories on defence, warned that the current situation in Macedonia presented the "real test for the West".
"There is a serious plan among Albanian separatists to create what appears to be a sort of greater Albania out of the bits of various countries around them."
He said Nato had "no other option" than the current course it was pursuing.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs and defence spokesman Menzies Campbell said the operation was an opportunity for Europe to prove it was "serious" about taking more responsibility for its own security.
But he warned that if it failed it would "undermine the argument that Europe is capable of effective operations without the US presence".
The new battle group, which will be commanded by a British officer, will mount "interdiction operations" along the border, with the aim of intercepting rebel Albanian reinforcements and supplies.
Troops from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment and the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, are expected to start moving into position from Tuesday.
The Phoenix drones, operated by the Royal Artillery regiment, will use thermal imaging cameras to send back 'real time' pictures of movements around the border zone to commanders on the ground.
The Bosnian Conflict: Origins and History - Bosnia-Hercegovina under Ottoman Rule, 1463-1878.
By Carl K. Savich
Bosnia-Hercegovina under Ottoman Occupation and Rule, 1463-1878.
For over 400 years, the Serbian Orthodox population of Bosnia-Hercegovina lived under Turkish Muslim occupation and rule, maintained by repression and exploitation. Medieval Bosnia had been disunited, engaged in a civil war, and faced foreign intervention from Hungary when the Ottoman Turkish armies invaded central Bosnia and seized Vrh-Bosna in 1448, the settlement which would be transformed into Sarajevo. Bosnia, once part of the Serbian Empire, a vassal of Rascia, or Rashka, surrendered to Mohammed II in 1463 and was ruled henceforth by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. The Turks captured and executed the last medieval Bosnian king of the Kotromanic dynasty, Stefan Tomasevic, who reigned from 1461 to 1463. Hum or Zahumlje was ruled by Stefan Vukcic who in 1449 declared himself a Duke or Herzog (German for duke), the region thus becoming known as Hercegovina. Hercegovina would be conquered by the Turkish Muslim armies by 1483. The district of Jajce held out until 1528, when the Ottoman Turks conquered and occupied it following the Ottoman victory over Hungary at Mohacs in 1526. Under Turkish rule, Bosnia and Hercegovina were united and Bosnia was divided into military-administrative districts, sandzaks (from Turkish sancak, banner). In 1580, Bosnia, which consisted of territory from Serbia and Croatia, was made a constituent province, or eyelet, of the Ottoman Empire.
To ensure their rule and domination over the indigenous Christian Serbian and Croat populations, the Turks forcefully converted the local population under a policy of Turkification or Islamicization or applied intense pressure which was tantamount to forced conversion to create Islamicized Slavs (poTurcenaci), the ancestors of the present-day Bosnian Slavic Muslims, referred to as "Turks" (Turci) by non-Muslims and many Muslims themselves. During the Ottoman occupation, there were essentially two divisions, between Turks and rayah, between master and slave, between Muslim and kaurin, the non-believer, infidel. In an era that pre-dated nationalism, religion was the only criteria of identification. To convert to Islam was to accept Turkish culture, customs, political system and political future. Thus, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire occupied Bosnia, many Slavic Muslims left Bosnia with the Turkish administrative officials and military forces, settling in Turkey. Similarly, during the Bosnian civil war of 1992-95, mujahedeen mercenaries and volunteers, from Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, in the Bosnian Muslim Army were made Bosnian citizens and thus were referred to as Bosnians because the dichotomy was between Bosnians and foreign aggressors, the Serbian Orthodox population of Bosnia-Hercegovina. These Slavic Muslims made up the aristocratic, landowning class which ruled Bosnia. Under the Sheriat or Shariah, the Islamic legal code, following a Muslim military victory and occupation of a country, the lives and property of the subject inhabitants is forfeited to the Ottoman rulers; a right is thereby conferred to Muslims to the lives and property of the subject population, their homes and properties are lost to the Muslim rulers. Concomitantly with the forced conversions were the voluntary conversions by the feudal, aristocratic, landowning class which sought to preserve its property holdings and, more importantly, its position of power. These Bosnian aristocrats saw in Islam a vehicle by which to preserve their power and wealth.
There were several key factors which made Bosnia highly conducive to Islamicization by the Turks. First, Bosnia was at that time an undeveloped, isolated, and backward region where religious, cultural, and national links were weakly established and tenuous and where ethnic and religious boundaries were not clearly defined or delineated. Bosnia-Hercegovina was of all the Slavic areas, the last to adopt Christianity and the last to establish political institutions. Second, Bosnia was the dividing line or boundary between Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy, between the Serbian Orthodox populations and the Catholic Croatian populations, between the East and the West, between Byzantium and Rome. Before the Turkish conquest and occupation, the aristocracy of Bosnia was made up primarily of the heretical religious sect of Bogomils (loved ones of God), who formed the Church of Bosnia, which enabled them to rule their majority Christian Serbian and Croat populations independently of Christian rulers. Bosnian leaders did not have to pledge allegiance to either Rome or Byzantium. Thus, in Bosnia the heretical religious sect of the Bogomils took root. This Bosnian Bogomil aristocratic class saw in Orthodoxy and in Catholicism a threat to their power and rule. Their policy was to divide and conquer.
With the Turkish Muslim conquest and occupation of Bosnia in 1463 by Mohammed II, the Bosnian aristocracy saw Islam as playing the same divisive role as Bogomilism had in the medieval fiefdoms. The Bogomils, members of the Church of Bosnia, converted to Islam en masse. The scale and magnitude of this conversion to Islam in Bosnia was unique to Bosnia. In other territories occupied by the Turks, the native and indigenous populations resisted the occupation and forced conversions. Thus, they welcomed the Muslim conquest and the Muslim overlords and pashas as saviors, saviors of their power, their property, and their wealth and privileges.
In his history of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, published in 1878, Edson L. Clark explained how the Muslim Turks could convert the peoples of Bosnia more readily than elsewhere as follows:
Bosnia was one of the rudest and most backward districts of the Serbian Empire. It had but few churches or monasteries and this imperfect establishment of the Serbian Church among them was probably one reason why the Bosnians proved so ready to abandon their religion...at the Turkish conquest...These Bosnian nobles...to save their estates and their power, turned Mohammedans, and became Turkish Begs or Aghas.'By this craft we have our wealth.'
Thus, the Christian Serbs were ruled by these Islamicized Slavs who had converted to Islam to preserve their power and property. Clark described the peculiar and invidious nature of this subjugation as follows:
The Montenegrins and Slavonians [Slavs], both Moslem and Christian, of Herzegovina and Bosnia, are all Serbian by race...In all the Slavonian provinces of European Turkey, it has been the peculiar hardship of the Christians, who have long, if not always, formed a majority of the population, to be held in subjugation by local tyrants of their own bloodEvery fifth year the terrible tribute of a tenth of the Christian youth was exacted for the service of the Sultan.
In The Nation That Wasnt: The Roots to the Bosnian Conflict, Aleksa Djilas described how the Bosnian Slavic Muslims were initially converted to Islam:
The Ottoman Turks completed the conquest of Bosnia in 1463 and then converted the nobility to Islam Because it faced a Christian frontier, Bosnian Islam was unusually harsh. In the case of Bosnias nobility, the Turks applied pressure, along with economic and political advantages. As a result, the nobility collectively apostatized. From then on, Christians labeled all converts to Islam Turks. Converts themselves sometimes used that appellation.
Even though there is a mercenary and shallow nature to their religious conversion and conviction, "for centuries the Bosnian Muslims have been exceedingly zealous, and even fanatical in their religion, " according to Edson Clark. Sarajevo (from Turkish serai, saraj, palace, and -evo, place of), formerly Vrh-Bosna, was known as the headquarters of Moslem fanaticism. In the Turkish annals, Bosnia was referred to as the Lion that guards the gates of Stamboul and as the chosen land of Mahometan Conservatism.
In 1830, Sultan Mahmud II sought to abolish the feudal and reactionary nature of the Ottoman Empire by instituting the Tanzimat reforms. In 1826, Bosnian Muslims had resisted the abolition of the Janizary corps by Mahmud II. The reactionary and feudal Bosnian Muslims revolted against these Westernizing and democratic reforms in 1831 led by the kapetan, or hereditary official Hussein Gradascevic, who launched a jihad or Islamic holy war against the Sultan, imprisoned the vizier in Travnik, with an army of 25,000 Bosnian Muslims, invaded Kosovo to demand that the grand vizier abandon the reforms. Local Bosnian Muslim landowners then increased their repressive measures against the Orthodox Serbian Christian population. By 1850-51, however, Omer Pasha Latas, the Bosnian governor, defeated the Bosnian Muslim forces opposed to reform. One of the reforms abolished the turban, perceived as Asiatic and non-European or Western, and introduced the fez or tarboosh, a conical red felt hat with a tassel. The Bosnian Muslims continued to wear the outlawed turban and only gradually accepted the fez. To illustrate the reactionary nature of the Bosnian Muslims, they were the last to accept the fez and one of the last to abolish it. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Kemal Pasha, the founder of modern, secular Turkey, outlawed the fez, perceived as a conspicuous symbol of pious reaction, in the 1925 Hat Law. The reactionary Bosnian Muslims did not abolish the fez until 1950. During World War II, the fez was the distinctive Bosnian attire of the two Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Divisions, the 13th Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Handzar and the 23rd Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Kama. Bosnian Muslim troops in the Croatian Ustasha Domobranci (Homeguards) and other Ustasha formations also wore the fez.
The explanation for this reactionary and fanatical and extremist nature of Bosnian Islam is that by opposing progress, democracy, compromise, moderation, and change, the Muslim rulers of Bosnia could ensure their power and wealth and privileges. Much like the US slave owners of the South, the Bosnian Muslim aristocracy perceived in education, in modernization, in reform, in democracy and progress a threat to their privileges and power. Clark explained that these Islamicized Turks are bitterly hated by their rayahs, whom they grievously oppress. Clark summarized the effect of Muslim Turkish rule on the Serbs as follows: "To the Serbians the result of the Turkish conquest was chiefly to arrest their progress."
Ivo Andric (1892-1975), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, the author of The Bridge on the Drina and Bosnian Chronicle, was born in Dolac in Bosnia of mixed ancestry, although he identified himself with the Serbian Orthodox. At the start of the Bosnian civil war in 1992, Bosnian Muslim government forces beheaded his statue at Visegrad in eastern Bosnia. In his doctoral dissertation, The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under the Influence of Turkish Rule, Andric summarized the effects of Turkish Muslim rule on the population of Bosnia as follows:
All researchers into Bosnia and its past, be they Serbo-Croatian or foreign, have felt in a position to state in concert and more or less forcefully that the effect of Turkish rule was absolutely negative...The venality that seems to have been a vice of the whole race of Turks showed up from their very first appearance on the stage of history...The Turks could bring no cultural content or sense of higher historical mission, even to those South Slavs who accepted Islam; for their Christian subjects, their hegemony brutalized custom and meant a step backward in every respect.
Like Clark, Andric concluded that Turkish Muslim rule had a totally negative and deleterious effect upon the Bosnian population. Moreover, by forcing the population of Bosnia to convert to Islam in order to keep their lands and in order to have any political, social, or economic future was "tantamount to forced conversion." The invidious and venal customs of the Muslim Turks, tantamount to genocide, in forcefully creating a Muslim Turkish population in Bosnia at the expense of destroying the Orthodox Serbian and Catholic Croatian and Bogomil populations were many and varied.
Crucial for the Islamicization of Bosnia was the peculiar and venal Turkish Muslim institution of the boy-tribute, or Adzami-Oglan (devsirme, collecting). This was the Muslim custom and practice, the tribute of blood, whereby Christian families had to give to the Muslim Ottoman Empire their best male offspring to be brought up as Muslim protectors of the Turkish Empire. Many became janizaries (from Turkish yenicheri, new troops) or soldiers in the Turkish Sultans Guard, which was originally made up of foreign slaves and which was established in the 14th century by Murat I and abolished in 1826. Every five years special Muslim commissioners were sent out from Constantinople (Istanbul) know as the telosnici, from telos, the name of this tax. The commissioners went from village to village. Every Christian family was required to declare the exact number of children in the household. The commissioner then decided how many children to take of those that were the healthiest and the best-looking. Three years after the Muslim Turkish conquest and occupation of Bosnia in 1463, the first telosnik appeared to collect the Christian children. This practice continued until the 17th century. Andric stated that the "abducted children soon forgot, as we said, their paternal hearth and faith and turned into fanatic 'Turks'." This was how a Muslim and Turkish population was engineered in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The traveler Bartholomaus Georgiewitz, who spent many years as a prisoner in Turkey, had personal eyewitness experience of this practice of the boy-tribute tax and described it in these terms:
Apart from the other tax burdens which Christians had to bear under Turkish rule, from time to time their handsomest offspring were seized from them. Separating the children from their parents, the Turks would instruct them in martial arts. These children, abducted by force, never returned to their parents. Alienated from the Christian religion, little by little they forgot faith, parents, brothers and sisters, and all their blood relatives, so when they later encountered their parents they no longer recognized them. I can find no right words to picture the pain and sorrow, the weeping and wailing of these parents when their children were torn from their bosoms and out of their grasp by those fiends. To parents who had just barely begun to instruct their children in Christian teaching, the hardest thought was that the religion of their forebears would be lost and they would be turning them into dreadful enemies of the Christian religion and of Christian people.
Religious conversion was so important because it was the sole criterion of life in the lands conquered and subjugated by the Muslim Turks; Islam was the sole and crucial unifying and defining criterion of the Muslim Turkish Ottoman Empire. In Muslim countries, the rulers saw no distinction between religious and political institutions; in fact, they were one. In an era before nationalism and the modern nation state, religion was the defining criteria. Andric explained that in the Ottoman Empire, Islam was the common thread holding the Empire together, the hegemony of Islam pervaded and imbued all institutions of the society and culture and political structures: "The life of the mind and spirit developed under conditions imposed by Islam, not only for those who embraced it but for all Turkish subjects irrespective of faith.
The Turkish rule and occupation of Bosnia had severe deleterious effects upon the social, cultural, political, and economic development of the Serbs. Serbs were compelled to settle and live in isolated mountainous regions to escape the Turkish predations of the boy-tribute or devsirme and to avoid the constant impressments into the Muslim Turkish armies which needed manpower in the long-standing Turkish quest to conquer all of Christian Europe.
The Muslim Turks and Muslim North Africans had for centuries sought to invade and occupy infidel Christian Europe and to bring the continent under the banner of Islam. From the east, in 669 AD, the city of Constantinople, the Christian capital of Byzantium and of Orthodoxy, was attacked and besieged by the Arab armies commanded by Ejup-ul-Ensari Halit bin Zeyd. By 1453, Constantinople was finally overrun and conquered by the Turkish Muslim armies of Mohammed II. The Orthodox Christian population, men, women, and children, was then brutally butchered and exterminated in toto while the survivors were made into slaves. The Muslims then went on to turn Constantinople into Istanbul, the Muslim capital of the Ottoman Empire and the new Mecca for expansionist Islam. The Muslims would build over 450 mosques in the formerly Christian Orthodox city and would convert the Sancta or Hagia Sophia Orthodox Church, the most sacred temple of Orthodoxy, into a mosque. Eastern Europe was eventually conquered and brought under the rule of Islam, following the Ottoman Turkish military victories at Maritsa in 1371 and Kosovo in 1389 by Murat I, which brought Serbia under Ottoman occupation. In 1529, Suleiman I or the Magnificent was unable to take Vienna. The Muslim invasion and conquest of Eastern Europe was finally halted by the Polish King John III Sobieski and his Hussars along with the forces of Prinz Eugen, who finally broke the Muslim siege of Vienna and pushed the Muslim Turks back to their bases and military staging areas in Bosnia in 1683.
Western Europe was attacked in 711 AD by Tariq from North Africa who crossed the strait and defeated the Christian Spanish armies in the Battle of Rio Barbate. The victorious Muslim armies crossed The Pyrenees and extended their conquest into southern France. By 718 AD, the entire Iberian Peninsula was conquered and occupied by Muslim Moors , who would convert Spain into an emirate under a Muslim governor of North Africa. Like the Islamicized Slavs of Bosnia, the Muslim Moors of North Africa converted the Christian Visigothic nobility of Spain to Islam, but the bulk of the population resisted conversion. The Spanish converts to Islam were called renegados by the Christians. The Muslim Moorish occupation and rule of Spain lasted over 700 years. Spain was able to throw off the Islamic Moorish yoke only in 1492 with the reconquista or reconquest.
Muslims committed four-large scale genocides against Eastern Orthodox Christians. The first Muslim genocide was in 1876 against the Bulgarian Orthodox Christians. Over 12,000 men, women, and children were brutally exterminated by the Ottoman Turks. The Bulgarian atrocities shocked the conscience of Europe. Following the Bosnian Serb Revolution or Insurrection in 1875, the Bulgarians had followed the Serbian example and had sought to emancipate themselves from Ottoman Turkish occupation. This Muslim genocide alienated British and Western European support for the Ottoman Empire, the sick man of Europe, which earlier had British support as a bulwark against Russia and against Orthodoxy. The second Muslim genocide occurred in 1896 against the Armenian Orthodox Christians. Several thousand Armenian men, women, and children were massacred by Muslim Turks and Kurds. Sultan Abdul Hamid II stated that the way to get rid of the Armenian question is to get rid of the Armenians. The third Muslim genocide occurred in 1915 again against the Orthodox Armenians. Using the cover of the World War, the Ottoman Turks exterminated several million Armenian men, women, and children in a large-scale genocide. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi German regime would during World War II use this Muslim genocide of Orthodox Christians as a model and blueprint for the extermination of European Jewry, the Final Solution or Holocaust. In August, 1939, Adolf Hitler asked: Who remembers now the extermination of the Armenians? The fourth Muslim genocide occurred in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo-Metohija from 1941-1945 and was conducted by Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians against Orthodox Serbs. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el Husseini oversaw the extermination of Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia and in Kosovo. Husseini was never brought to trial for the genocide and mass murder of thousands of Orthodox Serbs.
During the Austro-Turkish War of 1683-1699, Austrian forces drove out the Turkish troops from Hungary and Slavonija. Prinz Eugen of Savoy invaded Bosnia and occupied Sarajevo in 1697. Following the Austro-Turkish War of 1714-1718, at the Treaty of Pozarevac, or Passarowitz, Bosnian territory was ceded to the Austrian Empire, which replaced Ottoman rule for two decades. Austria invaded Bosnian territory in 1736, but was repelled at the Sava River. In 1865, Topal Osman Pasha , the governor of Bosnia, reformed military conscription and in 1866 divided Bosnia into seven sandzaks and established a consultative assembly.
Serbian Orthodox Christians endured severe hardships and repression during the Turkish Muslim occupation and rule of Bosnia. Serbian Orthodox Christians were forbidden from making wine, breeding pigs, and from selling pork products by the Muslim rulers. Serbian Orthodox Christians could not be saddlers, tanners, or candle makers, or trade in honey, butter, and other items. The only legal market day for the Christian Serbs was Sunday under the Sheriat, or Shariah, the Muslim religious legal code. Sunday, however, was the holy day or Sabbath for Christians, thus Serbian inhabitants of Bosnia had to choose between eating or observing their religious faith. Moreover, Christian Serbs paid much higher taxes than Muslims. A poll tax (arac, or harach, tribute) or head tax was levied on Serbs at a ducat per year. This poll tax only applied to non-Muslims who had reached the age of 14, but since birth registers (matriken) were never kept in Turkey, the result was that every Serbian Christian boy without distinction as to age was required to pay the tax. The curvee, or unpaid labor due from a serf to his lord, was exacted from Orthodox Serbian serfs. In 1848, the curvee was abolished during the reforms, but the lords, begs and agas, were allowed to increase their rents on their lands. An 1859 decree made Muslim landowners the owners of the land outright, making the Serbian Orthodox sharecroppers, who worked on the land of the Muslim beys or agas and received a share of the crops, like a white or Negro sharecropper in the US South.
The Serbian Orthodox Church and priests endured severe hardships during the Ottoman Muslim occupation and rule of Bosnia. Serbian Orthodox Churches were converted into mosques, mosques were built on the sites of Serbian Orthodox Churches, and Serbian Orthodox Churches could only be built below street level because all Christian dwellings had to be lower than all Muslim dwellings. In Sarajevo, the Serbian Orthodox Church dedicated to the Holy Archangels and built in the 16th century, was permitted to exist only if it was surrounded by a high wall which would make it invisible to the eyes of Muslims.
The Islamic Kanun-i-Rayah, the Muslim legal code, prohibited bells, the wearing of crosses by the kaurin, or unbeliever or infidel, "and they (i.e., the rayah) may not sing during said outings, nor in their houses, nor in other places." Only in 1860 was special permission obtained from Topal Osman-Pash to hang a church bell.
In the Decree of Omar II from the Koran-al-Raya, the Muslim law for the kaurin or infidel in the territories conquered by Muslims, the following prohibitions appeared against Christians and Jews: Christians and Jews in lands conquered by Muslims are not allowed to build or to repair their own cloisters and churches, the acquisition of property is allowed only to Muslims and is forbidden to Christians and Jews, Christians and Jews cannot read or touch the Koran or learn Arabic, Christians and Jews cannot sue each other, they cannot wear the same shoes or clothes as a Muslim, they cannot ride a horse with a saddle, within a house they can only whisper and may sing softly, Muslims can plow up and sow over old cemeteries of Christians and Jews, "the Miscreants", Christians and Jews cannot produce wine, wear wide belts, or carry or own weapons, Muslims must be given the place of honor in all dwellings and a Muslim must not be contradicted, Muslims must always be greeted with respect, Christians and Jews cannot manufacture seals with their own names and must provide hostels for Muslims. Serbian Christians were severely oppressed, exploited, and politically repressed during the Muslim subjugation and occupation of Bosnia. Thus, the result of over 400 years of Turkish Muslim occupation and rule for the Christian Serbs was economic subordination, underdevelopment, and exploitation, social inequality, and the lack of political and civil rights.
The Serbian Orthodox population was historically the largest ethnic group in Bosnia-Hercegovina. In 1876, when Bosnia was still under Ottoman rule, the total population was 1,216,856, which was broken down as follows: 576, 756 Orthodox Serbs, 47% of the population, 442,050 Slavic Muslims, 36%, 185,503 Roman Catholic Croats, 15%, 9.537 Gypsies, and 3,000 Jews. The Bosnian population was 62% Christian but the Muslim rulers gave few civil or human rights to them. Democracy was unknown in Islamic countries and was alien and antagonistic to the principles and ideals of Islam and the Islamic state. The British archeologist Sir Arthur Evans, in Through Bosnia and Hercegovina on Foot During the Insurrection, August and September, 1875, the second edition published in 1877, personally observed the treatment the Bosnian Orthodox Serbian population received under the Ottoman Muslim rule of Bosnia in1875 as follows: Briefly, they treated them like a herd of cattle ; and it is hard to say which was the more revolting, the intolerable insolence or the downright cruelty. Under Ottoman Muslim rule in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the Serbian population were virtual slaves, or rayah, a herd of cattle. The life of a Christian Serb during Turkish Muslim rule was similar to that of a Native American Indian or an American Negro slave in the ante-bellum South or of a Slav or European Jew during the German Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe.
The following account of the rule of Ali Pasha, Ali Rizvan Begovich, by Sir Arthur Evans in 1877 when Bosnia was a part of the Ottoman Empire, explained why Hercegovina Serbs revolted in 1875 during the Bosnian Insurrection:
Ali Pasha, originally Ali Aga of Stolac was a scion of the renegade nobility of Hercegovina[H]e used to send detachments of fanatical officers, who made the circuit of the Christian villages, and ill-treated or murdered whom they pleased[H]e allowed his agents to treat the rayahs with greater cruelty than ever
If the pasha had a weakness, it was for impaled heads of rayahsThus in 1849 Ali Pasha sent Ibrahim, his Cavass-Basha, to collect UskoksIbrahim gave orders to the villagers that one out of every house should come and accompany him to Piva. The poor villagers came forthIbrahim shot them dead one after the other. And there were slain fifteen men, Christians all And wherefore were they slain? For naught, but that there should be fewer Vlachs.
The greatest delight of the Vizier was to look upon Christian heads impaled[R]ound about the whole fortress he set up palisades of pointed oak-staves, which he topped with Christian headsUpon this fortress there were 150 staves, and upon each stave was always fixed a dead mans head. But when his murderous bands brought a fresh head, and there was room wanted for it, then Ali Pasha bade them take one or more of the dried heads down, and throw them into the street, where the children were wont to kick them about for sport, and no man durst take them away[O]ver 1,000 Christians were executed in the Hercegovina under Ali Pashas government, and only three Mahometans! Ali Pasha used also to impale rayahs.
Uskoks and Vlachs were derogatory terms for Serbian Orthodox Christians, like the term nigger or gook or Yid in the US lexicon. The Serbian population of Hercegovina lacked civil and human rights and was economically exploited, Serbian peasants were impoverished and reduced to bare survival.
In 1875, the Serbian population of Hercegovina, first in the Nevesinje region, launched an insurrection and revolt or revolution against the exploitation of the Muslim begs and agas (from Turkish bey, aga, master) which spread throughout Bosnia. The Muslim beys and agas sought to obtain the abolished curvee and higher rents, authorized by the 1846 reforms, from the Serbian Orthodox population. 1875 was a year of poor harvests which resulted in a famine in Hercegovina, where the Serbian population faced starvation. There was, moreover, widespread political dissatisfaction with the repressive and exploitative policies of the several hundred begs and 6,000 agas. The Muslim begs and agas and the Muslim populace reacted with a counter-revolution. The Muslim forces formed irregular Islamic troops called the Bashi-Bazouks (from Turkish basibozuk, bas, head, bozuk, depraved, out of order) known for their brutality, fanaticism, and atrocities against Orthodox Christian Serbs. Sir Arthur Evans described this Muslim counter-revolution led by the Bashi-Bazouks as follows:
[T]he long-restrained savagery of the old dominant caste has burst forth like a caged lion for the defence of Islam. The marauding bands now desolating Bosnia are for the most part headed by Begs and Agas, scions of the old Bosnian nobility; the Bashi-Bazouks are simply feudal retainers following their lords They are mere organized brigandscutting down women, children, and old menThus, in Bosnia, the Christian outbreak has been opposed by a counter-revolution of Moslem fanaticism in close alliance with the still vital relics of Bosnian feudalism.
The exactions of the Ottoman feudal lords on the Orthodox Serbian population had become intolerable. The heavy and unjust tax burdens, the lack of any civil and human rights of the rayah, the reactionary and non-democratic nature of the Islamic feudal regime, which opposed any and all reforms, all of these tyrannical abuses were factors which led to the Bosnian Revolution or Insurrection of 1875. The spark for the Bosnian Revolution was a massacre of unarmed Orthodox Serbs by the Ottoman overlords.
Muslim massacres of Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia were common during the 400 years of Muslim Turkish occupation. The Muslims used the Turkish dagger or scimitar in these massacres of unarmed Serbian civilians, the handzar, or kama (from Turkish hancer, kama, dagger, dirk), which was the weapon of the Ottoman Zaptiehs (from Turkish Zaptiye, gendarme), the Ottoman gendarmes or police, and the Bashi-Bazouks. These Muslim massacres led the Orthodox Serbs of Bosnia to revolt and to launch the Bosnian Insurrection or Revolution. The Bosnian Insurrection led Serbia, Montenegro, and then Russia, to declare war on the moribund Turkish Ottoman Empire. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Russia defeated Turkey. The Orthodox Serbian populations of Hercegovina and Bosnia expected to gain independence and freedom from Ottoman Muslim occupation and rule. But due to the political machinations of Britain, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, which opposed independence for Bosnia, at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 sponsored by Otto von Bismarck, who was the president of the Congress, Bosnia-Hercegovina was assigned to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to administer or occupy, although nominally still a part of Ottoman Turkey. The Bosnian Serb perception of the Treaty of Berlin was to see it as a treacherous and perfidious act of betrayal by foreign, imperialist-colonialist powers. One foreign master was replaced by another foreign master. The position of the Bosnian Serbs remained the same in Bosnia. Nothing had changed for them. This act of treachery and diplomatic perfidy perpetuated in the name of imperialist expansion by moribund empires would lead to the assassination in 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a student from Hercegovina and a member of the Young Bosnia Movement, Gavrilo Princip.