Unlike Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic whose names mentioned often during one of those popcorn political interrogation I had for the Bosniaks, I never heard of the name Arkan. I don’t talk politics all the time; the girl wanted to have some fun. So I listened to Turbo folk. Yah, but don’t tell the Bosnians or they will make fun of my choice of music. And still I had trouble. I only listened to Turbo folk in private when there weren’t many kids or adults. You see, for many Bosniaks, Turbo folk associated with those Serbians who once raped, figuratively and literally, them. "You know why we hate Turbo folk?" One kid tried to explain to me. "The most famous Turbo folk singer was the wife of a Serb general who murdered us." Her name is Ceca, through her, I got his name from wiki page "Arkan." I’m not going to go into much details about his life since such information is everywhere on the internet. What I’m more interested in is how skewed and different human perception and interpretation can be. For many Serbians, this world recognized war criminal was consider a national hero who loved and defended his country. And the interesting this is they had the reason to. Watching the video clip, I had no doubt in my mind he inspired his followers, gained their supports for his ill-fated mission to defend his country whom he claimed he loved. Despite giving a harrangue in an undiplomatic and uncivilized style of speech, he surely showed a lot of charisma. I do believe this guy did truly love Serbia and Orthodox faith albeit in a twisted way. Listen to him carefully and you’ll hear "…all muslims are WILD DOGS. This is the war between us and the WILD DOG…" What a waste! These radical Serbians could have done a lot of good for instead of dragging their country’s name to the mud and ravaging neighboring ones at the same time. But what’s more utterly incomprehensible?  Arkan can not exist and flourish WITHOUT the support of the people, many of them actually. I don’t have to name names, you know whom I’m talking about.  To support such man, it’s say a lot about people’s characters.

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The background song in this video is “Mostarska” written and composed by Dino Merlin. Scroll down to see the lyrics in Bosnian. I don’t have the English translation at the moment. When I complained to the sister of one of my roommate about the lack of Christmas spirit in Sarajevo, she said, “you should have been to Mostar. They celebrate Christmas there.” Mostar is the main administrative and tourist center, the unofficial center of Herzegovina, the southern region which makes up the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a beautiful city only 2:30 hours away by bus to the south west of Sarajevo. If Sarajevo is a city “of” the Bosniaks, then I guess the Bosnian Croats can claim Mostar “theirs”, just as Banja Luka “belongs” to the Bosnian Serbs. Mostar was named after its Old Bridge (Stari most) and the towers on its sides, “the bridge keepers” (natively: mostari). In 1993, this famous symbol of Mostar was destroyed by Croats-Bosnian Croat army’s bomshells during the fighting with their former ally, Bosniaks, for the control of the city. In recent time, Bosniaks and Croats have always been the city’s two main ethnic groups. After the war, the Bosnian Croats’ population exceeds that of the Bosniaks by only 1%. 1991 concensus (pre-war): Bosniak (34.65%), Croat (33.83%). 2003 concensus: Bosniaks (47.43%), Croat (48.29%). There is an invisible dividing line in the city separating the Croats who live mostly in the west and the Bosniaks, the east. At my roommate N.’s birthday party, I met a girl from Mostar. Not wanted to ask flat out “are you a muslim who really live in the east?” I covered: “Do you live in the east or west?” Oh, she was clever nonetheless because she saw right through me: “I live in Mostar. There is no east or west.” “But I mean, is your house from the east or the west side?” I insisted. She retorted “I live in Mostar” five more times for each of my “east-west side” interrogation before telling me her family lived in the east side. LOL My friend Vlatka and I were roaming the street of Mostar when we met two Japanese wanderers who wanted to see the bruce lee status. The guy was happy knowing Vlatka spoke Croatian and kept asking us to go see Bruce Lee together. “But he was taken down.” I said as I remembered reading an article about how people destroyed the status and took it down. At that time, I knew little about Bosnia. Thinking there were still bits and parts left of the once famous kungfu fighter, the hopeful Japanese guy, who was also a karate master, insisted to go anyway. So we walked further to the west side to the Spanish square where the poor dead Bruce Lee supposed to be. To our disappointment, he was not there. When asked a Bosniak from the east, we only got a simple answer “he was taken down.” But from a Croat on the west side, we got a bigger story: some Bosniak gangs vandalized the status bits by bits, broke his fingers, etc. Eventually, the city decided to pull it down. After the war, the status was erected as a symbol of solidarity, a protest against ethnic division. For an Asian dead man to be involved in the ongoing animosity between two white groups, it must be serious. Ouch! source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mostar Mostarska Lyrics

idemo tugo niz rijeku dole dole sad rane manje bole jos mi je san bistar k’o dan jos je pjesmom dozivamne pitaj tugo sta me to tjera ili je ljubav, ili je vjera jednom ce sve ovo da mine ostace tople usne emineja cu biti sijed, ja cu biti star al’ bice vjecno mlad moj mostar ja cu biti sijed, ja cu biti star al’ zauvijek je mlad moj mostar kako si miso, kako si brate da li jos sretni do tebe svrate nedaj da suza zamuti rijeku cuvaj je bistru i daleku kako si vaha, imas li daha jos jedna tekma na tebe ceka gdje ti je emir, taj stari nemir i njega ceka zelena rijeka ja cu biti sijed, ja cu biti star al’ voljecu i tad moj mostar ja cu biti sijed, ja cu biti star al’ zauvijek je mlad moj mostar… Let us go, sorrow, down the river Wounds are hurting less down there My dream is still clear as day I still call her with a songDo not ask, sorrow, what keeps me going Is it love, or is it faith Once shall all of this go by Warm lips of Emina shall remainI shall be grey, I shall be old But my Mostar shall be forever young I shall be grey, I shall be old But my Mostar is forever youngHow are you, Mišo, how are you, brother Do the happy ones still drop by Do not let tears make the river murky Keep it clear and distant How are you, Vaha, do you have breath There is still one ball match left Where is Emir, that old restless one The green river is waiting for him too I shall be grey, I shall be old But even then I shall love my Mostar I shall be grey, I shall be old But my Mostar is forever young…

thanks my friend T. and her sister for the translation.

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Comments from the original video poster

EL MUDJAHIDIN contains original video footage of persons belonging to this squad and fighting on the side of the so called Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. An army which Muslims (Another-words Bosnian politicians) introduce to the world as the ONLY army fighting for the unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the good of all ethnic backgrounds residing there, and presenting their people (Bosnian Muslims) as the ONLY constitutional people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, judge for yourselves how true these claims are……..

You are also able to view a huge presence of Mudjahedins from Islamic countries belonging to Al’ Qaide who, as is well known, committed atrocious war crimes against Serbs and other non Islamic people in BiH. Keep in mind that those Mudjahedins were and STILL are protected by the Bosnian (Muslim) political leaders.

When I watch or post a video, I always make sure that I know who is the original poster: Bosniak, Serb, Bosnian-Serb, Croat or Bosnian-Croat. This make a huge difference. These people tend to inteprete the war differently.

While watching this video, keep in mind the following:

1. The city are not flooded with the new wave of fundamental Muslims (as a friend of mine joked, “we are the only fundamentalists in our family,” to explain why they wore head scarves and others did not). Bosnia is not a Muslim country despite Muslims occupy slightly less than half the population.

The opposite can not be more true. When I was there during my first few months, I could not help for being confused seeing Caucasian European in colorful and fashionable dresses, women in thick make-up, revealing clothing and neat hair-cut, clean-shaven men flooded many pubs, bars, and coffee bars within downtown area. There are no street signs praising Allah or Muhammad. Zealous Bosniaks did not flood the street to shout “Allah is great” (*) either and staged violent protests over the Danish cartoons and burned down buildings and threatens to kill either. The only obvious signs signaling that I was now in a Muslim-dominated part were mosques dotting everywhere in the city.

I worked in, probably, one of the the most religious (Muslim) secondary school (*) in the country. However, there are only four teachers who wore the scarves and less than 5% students wearing the scarves.

2. The video’ commentator mentioned that only after the war there were signs of women wearing scarves. But he should also add that prior to the war, Yugoslavia was united as one country under Socialism-Communism. Tito was known and referred by both terms: Socialist and Communist, mostly by the latter. In pure communist countries, religion is deemed as poison. Communist governments do everything in their powers to destroy religious practices. Though Tito tolerated religions–to what extent, I don’t know–since he was not strictly a Communist, he did not encourage them either, since he was also a Communist who was in an alliance with Stalin. When I asked a colleague why her mother did not wear a scarf, I was told that her mother lived during Tito’s Communism and was not allowed to wear one.

So the more correct and less biased version is not Mudjahedins bring radical Islam to Bosnia , thus encouraging women to wear the scarves, it can be that they wanted to wear head scarves but were not allowed before. Now, being independent from central, iron-fist rule, they run the country whichever way they see fit.

3. But the deeper reason lies on the struggle for bruise identities. There are two ways to explain why some one is a nationalist.

  • He/she is a naturally nationalist.
  • He/she becomes a nationalist or turns to nationalisms because of rage, sadness, anger, joy, etc.

The last bulleted item applies in Bosnia. One of my roommate, a total liberal European with mixed Serb-Muslim blood, defines herself as a Muslim because she was raised by her mom who is a Muslim. She wishes to practice more of the Muslim traditions when she gets older: fast during the Ramadan month, pray five times a day, stop drinking. I asked and was surprised by answers not expected from a non-religious, party girl who resembled Barbie: “What should I do? They killed us just because we believe in Allah. Now we have to believe in him.”


The return of radical Islam might not be exclusively an external factor brought from abroad by the “terrorist” Mudjahedins , rather it is an internal factor.

4. Given the much media coverage of those terrorist groups from the Middle East, radical right-wing Islam extremists who send volunteers to fight for Islamic causes, this video might present to the world Bosnia and its Bosniak/Muslims in a negative way for their association with the claimed terrorists.

Ethic is something got thrown out the windows during war time. Sarajevo was under siege by Serbian forces for almost four years with little help from the EU and NATO. Needless to say, it was under EU and NATO’s protection that the massacre happened in Srebrenica. So should the Bosniaks carry the scarlet “E” for Ethics on their heads and wait to get slaughtered away or seek and accept whichever help they can get, abeit it was from “terrorist” groups.

It is also helpful to note that Bosnia has three main religious/nationality groups. Unlike in other countries, religion and nationality tightly group: Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Muslim Bosniaks. As we walked to the Tunnel museum near Butmir airport –the only safe place where Bosniaks can get aid from the outside–one of the students said, “what if fighting happens again, of course Serbia will protect the Serbs (Bosnian-Serbs), Croatia protects the Croats (Bosnian-Croats), then who will protect us (Bosnian Muslims)?”

“Turkey, perhaps.” I mused, “or Iran.”

Here is what the Bosniaks should do:

a. Make an alliance with one of the other ethnic groups, Serb or Croat. But they’d been there, done that ad later betrayed by the Croats who sided with Bosnian Serbs and Serbia hoping to get a slice of Bosnia.

b. Seek help from Western Europe. Well, they did, but then there was the massacre while being protected by EU and NATO.

c. Wait for help from the US. It did happen although a little bit late. However, USA is world-wide known and blamed for their meddling in other people’s affairs, for their arrogant role as the world’s police. American might hesitate the next time around. Given that Bosnia has no oil, USA might be even more hesitant. I read one article from “The Economist” which rumored the possibility of USA’s return to isolationism.

d. Seek and accept help from those who are more than willing to help, that is the zealous, radical, right-wing “Muslim brothers” from the Middle-East. Everybody knows these guys/gals do anything for Islamic causes. So even the war in Bosnia might not be a religious war, helping the Muslims was all they care or know about.

So many options.

(*) I saw a wall graffiti “Allah je jeden …”. But that was about it.

(*) The secondary school system is secular. I just happened to work in a non-secular one.

When you hear of WWI, you will hear about the major players such as Germany, Austria, Russia, France, England, etc. But it was an incident in Sarajevo in which a nationalist Serb assassinated the heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 that led to a chain of human nonsense called World War I.

I think Sarajevo was mentioned somewhere in my history text book when I learned about WWI in high school, but soon forgot . Well, who can remember historical facts. A local Bosnian, my colleague, reminded me of this fact my first day in Sarajevo when we walked along the Latin bridge near Bistrik Medresa, across from the assassination place.. It was named Princip after the assassin and changed to Latin after the Yugoslavian war. Well, this makes every single sense. In a city with a majority Bosniaks, why should a name of a nationalist Serb exist?

This clip is hilarious as the little Korean girl singing song about Tito. I wonder whether she is from North Korea.

It was typical in communist Asian countries to sing song praising the communist leaders. In Vietnam, there were songs and poems praising Ho Chi Minh and Stalin. Gosh know who else?

Such a cute little girl and with such robed childhood!

The song in the video is absolutely beautiful. Do you know the name of the song? (

Answer from a commenter: The song is called “Lili Marleen” and this particular recording is song by Lala Andersen. There is another version of it song by Marlene Dietrich, which was an immensely popular song among German soldiers during WWII. This little clip appears in fact in Kusturica’s movie called Underground. The song was known to be broadcasted very frequently from the Zagreb radio when Yugoslavia was under Nazi occupation (that is how it became popular in Yugoslavia).

President of former Yugoslavia. He used to be a member of the Communist party , but later fell out of the alliance with Stalin. Unlike the Eastern bloc aka Soviet blog, China, or Vietnam which functioned as Communist countries, Yugoslavia inclined toward Socialism. People with different ethnic background: Croatians, Bosnian Croats, and Bosniak, tee angers; young adults, adults, and the elders, educated and not educated seem to have many good and only few bad opinions about him. A few negatives things I heard about Tito was that he did not recognize Islam until much later; therefore Muslims in Bosnia had to declare as either Orthodox Serbs or Catholic Croats. The nation lists might not like Tito since he told people they were just one group regardless of religion and ethnic back rounds. Another negative thing he might have done was taking or buying (for cheap) lands owned by the Bosniaks and gave to non-Muslims (remember that I am just saying what I heard.) Still, a majority of Muslims I knew liked Tito.

And they have every reason to. Under Tito, Yugoslavia was a strong country. People had jobs, “during his time, my parents had a good life,” said a friend of mine. Even a religious Bosniak commented, “yes, if you speak strictly about economy, then we had a good life.” After his death, wars broke Yugoslavia into pieces literally and figuratively.

Coming from a Communist country and heard many discussions about Communist leaders, sarcastic at best and hateful at worst, Tito popularity is something so strange to me.

Main streets in Sarajevo and other cities are named after him: Mašala Tita.

Added July 10th, 2006

I rent a room in Budva from a Serbian (this was how he identified himself) who lived in Montenegro for 27 years. One of the first comments about the ex-Yugoslavia was how good it was during Tito’ time with freedom to travel everywhere (under communism, traveling was restricted) and good credit lines. So you see, despite the conflict among the Croats, Bosniaks, and Serbs, they tend to agree on one thing: Tito.


The movie is made by a Bosniak, therefore cannot avoid the subjective and bias from a Bosniak’ point of view. This does not mean the movie does not have any validation.

I will find clips made by Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs so that you can be expose to more view points.

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