Bosniak nationalism

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A Bosnian Islamic flag common in the early 1990s.

Bosnian Muslim nationalism or Bosniak nationalism[a] refers to the ethnic nationalism of the Bosniak people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Bosnian Muslims).

As in the historical Bosnian nationalism, Bosniak nationalism is largely focused on preserving the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to ensure the national rights of Bosniaks within the state.[1]


Austro-Hungarian rule[edit]

The Austro-Hungarian government encouraged Bosnian identity and nationhood.[2]

In an 1891 article of the journal Bošnjak ("The Bosniak"), author and mayor of Sarajevo Mehmed-beg Kapetanović declared that the Bosnian Muslims belonged to the South Slavic peoples, but were neither Croats nor Serbs.[3]

First Yugoslavia[edit]

Upon the founding of Yugoslavia in 1918, Yugoslav unitarists claimed that there was only one single Yugoslav nation and that the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes were recognized as the "tribes" of the Yugoslavs, this excluded recognition of Bosnians as a distinct people of Yugoslavia and provoked frustration amongst Bosnian Muslims.[4] In response to a lack of recognition, the Yugoslav Muslim Organization (JMO) was founded in 1919 with support of the Muslim intelligentsia and social elite, that sought to defend Muslim identity - including religious, social, and economic rights within Bosnia and Herzegovina;[4] in 1935–38 the JMO took part in government, when it had the goal of preserving the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[4] In the second half of the 1930s, Islamic revivalist Mehmed Handžić, a proponent of strict Sharia rules, argued that Islam was compatible with nationalism and adopted the notion of Bosnian Muslim religious and national identity, separating Bosnian Muslims from Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs.[5]

Second Yugoslavia[edit]

For the 1961 census a new ethnic category was introduced–Muslims–with which 972,954 Bosnians identified;[6] in 1964, the Muslims were declared a narod ("people"), as the other five "peoples", but were not ascribed a national republic.[6] In 1968, the Bosnian Central Committee declared that "...Muslims are a distinct nation",[6] for the 1971 census, accordingly, "Muslims, in the sense of a nation" was introduced.[6]

Bosnian nationalism has been tied to Alija Izetbegović's publishing of the Islamic Declaration that called for an Islamic renewal amongst Bosnian Muslims.[1] Izetbegović was arrested by Yugoslav state authorities in 1983 on allegations that he was promoting a purely Muslim Bosnia, and served five years in prison;[1] in 1990, Izetbegović and others founded the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), that became the main Bosnian Muslim party in the Bosnian parliament.[1]

The eruption of the Bosnian War (1992–95) strengthened Bosnian Muslim identity;[1] in 1993, "Bosniak" was adopted by the Bosnian Muslim leadership as the name of the Bosnian Muslim nationality.[1] A Bosnian Muslim state was proposed during the war when plans for the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina were made. It would either be established as one of three ethnic states in a loose confederation,[7] or as an independent "Muslim state" in the area controlled by the Bosnian Army, as proposed by Islamists.[8]

The ideology of ARBiH shifted in 1994–95 into a complete identification with the SDA and Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) nation.[9]

Post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

The Dayton Agreement (November–December 1995) ended the war and created the federal republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), made up of two entities, the Bosniak and Croat-inhabited Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), and the Serb-inhabited Republika Srpska (RS). As noted by international relations expert Niels van Willigen: "Whereas the Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs could identify themselves with Croatia or Serbia respectively, the absence of a Bosniak state made the Bosniaks firmly committed to Bosnia as a single political entity."[10] Propaganda texts appeared in 1996, after the war, calling for a Bosniak state.[11] Secular Bosniaks have warned that a partition of the state would lead their people to Islamic fundamentalism.[12] There has been proposals of secession of RS, as well as its abolition, the proposed creation of a Croat entity would de facto lead to a "Bosniak entity".

In August 2017, Croat member of the Presidency stated that Bosniak nationalists wanted to deconstitutionalize the Bosnian Croats.[13]


Political parties

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Commonly known in Serbo-Croatian as "Muslim nationalism" (Muslimanski nacionalizam), and recently, "Bosniak nationalism" (bošnjački nacionalizam). The term "Bosniakdom" (Bosnian: bošnjaštvo) has also been used, but is most often used in connection to the 19th-century multi-religious identity.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Motyl 2001, pp. 57.
  2. ^ Eller 1999, p. 262.
  3. ^ Eller 1999, p. 263.
  4. ^ a b c Motyl 2001, pp. 56.
  5. ^ Troch 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Eller 1999, p. 282.
  7. ^ Kostić 2007, p. 78.
  8. ^ Velikonja 2003, p. 278.
  9. ^ Marko Attila Hoare (2004). How Bosnia armed. Saqi Books in association with the Bosnian Institute. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-86356-367-6. 
  10. ^ Niels van Willigen (18 July 2013). Peacebuilding and International Administration: The Cases of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Routledge. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-1-134-11725-3. 
  11. ^ FBIS Daily Report: East Europe. The Service. 1996. p. 20. 
  12. ^ Timothy Garton Ash (2000). History of the present: essays, sketches and despatches from Europe in the 1990s. Penguin. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-14-028318-1. 
  13. ^ "Covic: Bosnjacki nacionalisti ..." Starmo. 2017. 
  14. ^ Šedo 2013, p. 31.
  15. ^ Hudson & Bowman 2011, p. 121.
  16. ^ ICG & 26 February 2013.
  17. ^ Donia, Robert J. "Archives and Cultural Memory under Fire: Destruction and the Post-war Nationalist Transformation". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Kemal Kurspahić (2003). Prime Time Crime: Balkan Media in War and Peace. US Institute of Peace Press. pp. 155–. ISBN 978-1-929223-39-8. 



Further reading[edit]