Saturday, March 20, 2004

Pretty Churches, Pretty Mosques and Not So Pretty Flames

When the violence erupted in Kosovo, many feared that it could spill over to Bosnia and thus almost instantly erase all the results of Western peacemaking efforts in that country for the past nine years.

The violence indeed did spill over, but so far it seems to be an isolated incident. Orthodox church in town of Bugojno, which is situated in Muslim-Croat Federation part of Bosnia and populated mainly by Bosniacs (Muslims), has been set alight.

Good news is that the arsonists did their dirty work under cover of night. It seems that there weren't that many of them (unlike Kosovo and Serbia, where the torching has been committed by mobs). Furthermore, the fire was quickly extinguished by local firefighters and every politician in Bosnia, regardless of ethnicity or "entity", is appealing for calm. According to Bosnian authorities, local police has already started interrogating suspects.

At least in short term, Bosnia will remain calm. For whole variety of reasons – ethnic, cultural, economic, political, military – that country looks like Switzerland compared to Kosovo.

Much worse incidents in the past – Croat family in Central Bosnia being massacred at 2002 Christmas Eve by local Muslim fundamentalist – failed to spur the cycle of tit-for-tat violence.


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