Art and the Balkans

Translated by Captain Ahab


Ahmad Dahshan

In the South-East of Europe lies the name Balkan Peninsula, populated for thousands of years by the Southern Slavs. This historic region consists of the following countries, at least for the past 30 years: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Kosovo.

The peoples of this region constitute a single unit, they share the same land, language and race/ancestors. The natural scenery invokes biblical images of God’s heaven, that is, until the Ottoman Turks invaded it in 1521 and conquered the city of Belgrade, which was the capital of the southern Slavic peoples, thereby establishing their reign of terror over the region. The Turks massacred, and tried their best to humiliate and denigrate the people.

Some of the younger generations in the Balkans embraced Islam in order that they may ensure an easier and less turbulent life both for themselves and their families, which the Ottoman Turks offered to those who converted. They did this so that their daughters don’t become sex slaves and the young male children are not shipped to Istanbul to become slaves or worse, incorporated into the Ottoman military, who then are sent back to the Balkans in order to secure gained territories and to be part of the continuing assault on Europe (Christendom), which further aim to expand the empire. From this moment, the seeds of division, discord, sprung and grew. The Orthodox Christians, which was at the time the dominant religion of the Southern Slavs, saw, for all intents and purposes, that the conversion of their brethren to Islam as a great betrayal having joined the religion of the occupier and oppressor, and working for him against them.

The hatred and division grew greater and deeper as time went on, until the arrival of Joseph Tito, who restored the unity of the Balkans, as was historically the case after confronting and defeating the Nazi war machine. The Balkans was united, finally, under one state, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was established in 1943 under the auspices of the Yugoslav Communist Party, which had as members of the party every racial, national, and religious denomination that existed in the Balkans (Muslims – Roman Orthodox – Catholics – Jews – Slav – Albanians – Gypsies). Tito brought them all under one flag, one state and one country, he succeeded where religion failed, he united the Southern Slavs, and made of that state a tour de force.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke into bits and pieces in 1992, owing to the failures of its leaders, a prime example would be Slobodan Milosevic. The Roman Catholic Church incited its followers in Croatia, with tacit Western support, to demand secession. And in order to find a causes belli, the Muslims were also encouraged to secede. Western media then went on a rampant campaign accusing the central government of Muslim genocide thus encouraging the movement of the “Mujahideen” from Afghanistan to the Balkans.

While in reality the central government was facing an insurgency, instigated by the Catholic Church, the central government was concerned with securing its territorial integrity, while the US was working hard to destroy the last of the Great, and resisting States against Western hegemony of Central Europe.

Yugoslavia was divided into 8 countries of no value and the Muslims were used, as is often the case, to serve the interests of the West. The Muslims, were given an inept and crippled state, which was internally divided, with Islam as barely a minority religion and with Serbs and Croats forming large minorities. Hence, future wars along sectarian lines are a possibility, given the rise of identitarian politics in Europe, which translates into religious war in the Balkans

8 years after the break-up of Yugoslavia, a band was formed called: The Trag group.

With four women and six male musicians from the independent republics of Yugoslavia, who aim to present the old and original Balkan art that belongs to all southern Slavs so as not to be lost, and that it may always be remembered that they are one people. They were divided by religion and by Western hegemonic and colonial powers. And this is the role of art, to transcend petty tribalisms, to remind and unite a people.

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