The Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power (GRSP) project of Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs to systematically study the use of religion in foreign affairs. As we read on their website:
Through a global comparison of varying motivations, strategies, and practices associated with the deployment of religious soft power, project research aims to reveal patterns, trends, and outcomes that will enhance our understanding of religion’s role in contemporary geopolitics.
Lots of interesting stuff there, but I would like to direct your attention to the short documentary film “Islam in Bosnia After Communism: The Saudi Connection” by Dr. Harun Karčić.
With the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and the resulting ethno-religious conflict in Bosnia, the international community turned its attention to the tragedy playing out in the Balkans. For Bosnia’s Muslims one of the most important sources of external support came in the form of humanitarian relief and assistance from Saudi Arabia. Alongside its charitable contributions, Saudi Arabia also promoted in Bosnia the austere form of Salafi Islam—commonly known as Wahhabism—associated with the desert kingdom. Thirty years after the war, how should we regard the legacy of these transnational religious influences? To what extent have they reshaped the religious landscape of Bosnia? Are younger Bosnians turning to Salafism today because of the Saudi connection, or because of reasons closer to home? In this short documentary film, Islam in Bosnia After Communism: The Saudi Connection, journalist and scholar Harun Karčić explores these questions in conversation with Bosnian experts against the backdrop of Sarajevo’s evolving religious life.
To learn more about Islam in Bosnia after communism, check out these related resources:
“Salafism vs. Moderate Islam: A Rhetorical Fight for the Hearts and Minds of Bosnian Muslims” Edina Bećirević Atlantic Initiative, Sarajevo, 2016
“Left Behind: Survivors of Violent Extremism” Mirnes Kovač, Kimberly Storr, Edina Bečirević, and Vlado Azinović Atlantic Initiative, Sarajevo, 2019
“Community Perspectives on the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Bosnia and Herzegovina” Sead Turčalo Berghof Foundation, Berlin, 2018
To learn more about the activities of the Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power project, visit http://bit.ly/ReligiousSoftPower
This video is made possible by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed in this video are solely the responsibility of the authors and interviewees.