• Ilhan Eminov
Keywords: Western Balkan, jihadism, tolerance, moderate Islam


There are over 5 million Muslims representing 25 % of the region's population living on the territory of former Yugoslavia which had roughly 20 million citizens. By comparison, there are also around 5 million Muslims living in France, a country that had several colonies in the Muslim world, but the population ratio is different compared to the 60 million of the French population. Unlike the developed countries of Europe, the economies of the Balkan countries were destroyed by numerous interethnic conflicts. After the war of the '90s, the Balkans were living in a longtime economic and social crisis and a state of organized crime. With the beginnings of party pluralism, the different religions gained their former religious identity back.
In Croatia and Slovenia, the Catholicism experienced a renaissance, same as the orthodoxy did in Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro and the Islam did in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Western Macedonia and Sandzak. After the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the fall of communism in the Balkans, the opportunity for increased foreign religious influence became a reality.
Today, the image of a tolerant, open Islam from the communist era is still present, although it too is affected. During the several decades of communist rule, the traditional religious networks that affirmed an Islam shielded from Wahhabist and Salafist influences were disintegrated.108
The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina intensified the implantation of the mujahidin in Bosnia in 1995. The traditional Muslim imams gradually lost their authority to the newcomers in a large number of mosques. At the same time, in light of its powerlessness, the state began to lose control in the field. It is estimated that some 67 mosques are controlled by radical Islam today, especially in rural and mountainous regions.109
Under the pressure of great financial resourced which flowed in from Gulf countries, the education of Bosnian imams in Egypt and Saudi Arabia began. Step by step, Salafist imams were installed in the region preaching a more radical Islam. In such a situation, it was easier to recruit future Jihadists, especially among the socially vulnerable population.110 For example, one graffiti in Pristina (Republic of Kosovo) states: "Every woman will receive 200 euro a month if she wears a niqab".111 The radicalization spread in Bosnia and Kosovo with the greatest intensity. "Bosnia and Kosovo remain the most dangerous countries in Europe due to their political weakness and the high corruption rate. More than 75.000 weapons circulate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one Kalashnikov can be bought for the price of 200 euro and easily brought into the Schengen region", a former police officer of the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina points out


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How to Cite
Eminov, I. (2019). IS THE WESTERN BALKANS A FAVORABLE REGION FOR RECRUITMENT OF JIHADISTS?. Knowledge International Journal, 32(1), 187 - 191. Retrieved from