The motivation was that Bosnia was in danger of becoming a portal for extremist Muslim terrorists to enter Europe. Another factor that also kept the lid on the terrorist infiltration was that the Bosnian Muslims were an extension of the Turkish traditions and experience and that the modernizing, secular movement led by Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk, had also taken root there. While the terrorists may have found a portal in the post conflict chaos, they could not put down roots among the general Muslim population of Bosnia because Bosnian Muslims were more oriented to the West and the Ataturk reformation.
How Bosnia does parallel the recent events in North Africa is that there is and will be an attempt of the radical elements of Islam to try to thwart democracy and moderate Islamists there. That drama is being played out without a NATO or OSCE to put a brake on the influence of anti democratic Islamists.
In Cairo the more radical forces battling more moderate Muslims for power are centering around the radical Salafist movements and these appear to be the ones fostering violence against the US Embassy. It is an internal battle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists for control of Egypt that characterizes much of the events there erupting after the Muslim world became aware of the insulting and hateful film paid for and sponsored by very anti Muslims in the US.
For the events in North Africa and some solid analysis, I rely heavily on hard news reports and analysis in the New York Times and the Washington Post. I especially respect David Ignatius of the Washington Post. His background and experience give him special insight to the Arab and Iranian world. I also listen keenly to CNN reports and their reporters who seem to be
closely connected with the grassroots in the counties finding their way in the post Arab Spring .
These experiences inspired my life long quest to gain a better understanding of Islam and the Muslim world outside the Balkans. However, much of the current interpretation of Islam held by both some in the Muslim world and the criticism of the religion itself by some Americans in no way resembles the practice of the religion by traditional Muslims I have known in the Balkans. My 30 years of activities in the Institute of International Education providing hospitality to many many Muslim women from all over the world visiting the US under State Department sponsorship confirms my impression that the practice of Islam
varies greatly from country to country.
My view of this cultural and religious conflict has not been fossilized in the 1950's. I have had the unique opportunity to visit the Balkan region nearly every couple of years since then , before and after the ethnic cleansing wars of the 1990's. My interaction has not been at the official level...just with family, relatives and many ordinary people. I have admittedly been influenced by some writings: Karen Armstrong's "The Battle for God" comparing the roots of radicalization and politicization of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism and CNN producer Peter Bergen's book of an often first hand accounting of the history of Al Qaeda and Afghanistan, "The Longest War".
I am not a partisan of the religions in conflict...Catholics, Orthodox, Jews, or
Muslim. I am a practicing Protestant with an ecumenical and tolerant outlook. I find these conflicts based on ethnic and religious identification to be self defeating and a disaster for those caught up in it, not only resulting in the death of innocents, but relegating them to economic and cultural isolation and having to play catch up with the rest of the technologically advanced world. "
UPDATED: November, 2015