Jihad in the global village and the Balkans?
"Terrorists, hijackers, these are people minus identity. They are deter mined to make it somehow, to get coverage, to get noticed." You'll say that the author of these words watched a black-clad man from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) beheading Americans. Nothing of the kind. The quote is from 1977. Its author is the well-known media researcher, Canadian Professor of English Marshall McLuhan.
"When people get close together, they get more savage, impatient with each other. The global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations." According to the professor, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a "tribal base". Today when heads are rolling this is truer than ever.
With its mediatised brutality ISIL is turning to the West. Challenging it on the turf that the West has deserted: the readiness to kill and to die. This is not the way of jihad, because jihad is mainly a spiritual war; this is terror at its worst. The individual terror of suicide attackers is mutated into a "state" of terror and threatens with global terror. It will not be played out on the plains near Syria's Raqqah or Iraq's Mosul, but in the transnational media. The aim is to turn the western freedoms against the West itself.
But it is never too late for greater attention to the Balkans. Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, sends increasingly more worrying news of radical Islam, fuelled by war wounds, poverty, unemployment and the inability of local elites to organize a state. The question of identity is rucial here too. I saw with my own eyes how in 1994 the Bosnian Muslims were still wondering: "Who am I? A Muslim or a Bosniak? A Bosnian or an Islamised Slav?" Cornered, finally they desperately sought their own image in history, in politics, in the army, but above all in religion. Such tensions always leave a mark. Large groups in the Balkans continue to identify through religion, because they don't known how else to do it. "I am a Muslim" replaces other "inconvenient" definitions: Pomaks, Ahriyans, Sandzaks, Gypsies, Roma, etc. Similar scenarios can be found in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria.
But the biggest question mark is Turkey. This is where the epic battle for identity is waged. Who is today's Turk? The faithful Muslim of today's idol Erdogan, or the secular nationalist of yesterday's Ataturk? Who will prevail in the grand tug-of-war of the elites? Whose side will the Kurds take? And are there any unavowed fans of ISIL in this amalgam of passions and ambitions? Northern Iraq borders on Turkey, and the distance between Sofia and Damascus is exactly the same as the distance between Sofia and Brussels.
For the entire article check out the inflight magazine of Bulgaria Air!