Typical Mixed Villages
The snow- and ice-covered road weaves its way up the mountainside to the village Osjenik. The site, Pazarić, is still recognizable down in the valley. A unique view of the surrounding mountains is visible from the first village houses. The ski runs set up on the Bjelašnica-Massif for the 1984 Olympics still draw thousands of skiers.
Former Professor Alicehajic points out the Muslim cemetery, and next to it the Christian cemetery with pictures of the deceased engraved on the gravestones. The mosque and church show that this village is one of the typical central Bosnian mixed villages, where people of different religions have lived together for centuries.
The summit is reached after a few hundred meters. Two-story, multi-family houses surround an area which will contain an artificial lake. This is indicated by a sign at the entrance to the area, depicting the complex by the Kuwait firm, Gulf d.o.o. Some of the houses are only half-finished. Next to them backhoes are digging ditches. Work is going on everywhere. There will be a shopping center, mosque, restaurants and cafés. No one can enter the areas yet. The Bosnian watchman intimates that the first tourists are expected as early as the summer. More than 1,000 tourists from the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia will be able to spend their vacations here.
Many men from the region, says Alicehajic, now have work. To be sure, uneducated laborers only get about €15/day, but that is “better than hanging around without work”. He is not religious, says the Bosnian. But he fears for the survival of the traditional, tolerant, Bosnian Islam. “Wahhabism and Salafism don’t belong here,” he grumbles. “What meaning does this radical, Arabic Islam have for the Muslim village population? To say nothing of the Christians,” he complains.
Alicehajic relates that the investors acquired the land from the community, since — after the war and with independence — the state lands of socialist Yugoslavia became the property of the communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “It does not take much imagination to envision what corruption this engendered among mayors and political parties. And the Wahhabists will try to draw the Muslim politicians to their side.” After the excursion to the plateau, he stops in at a restaurant in Pazarić. On the table before him are bean soup, herb tea and the pear schnapps, Kruska.
The rotund pub owner has been listening to Alicehajic’s theories. He says, “Wait a minute, it’s not that simple. The Arabs spent a lot of money last summer.” He was now in the process of expanding his restaurant. In the summer, dozens of guests would be able to sit outside by the brook. Money was now coming into the region and it would be better for everyone.
But is he allowed to serve alcohol? “Don’t be silly! Arab guests last summer drank a lot of wine, beer and schnapps. It’s allowed here. They enjoy our Bosnian-Muslim life style.”
BUT OF COURSE, ISLAM IS NOT ARAB CONQUEST!