About Catholics and Muslims in the Balkans

Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Turkish troops conquered Bosnia in 1463 and Herzegovina in 1482. Before the Ottoman invasion these lands were inhabited by Catholics. Those who could flee went abroad before this Islamic flood. The queen of Bosnia found her shelter in Rome where she died (her tomb is in St Mary's in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill in Rome). Many people, especially young people, were sent to Turkey where they were Islamized (two royal sons were forced to accept Islam). Afterwards those Islamized Slavs as janissaries (soldiers) were sent to the Balkans where they persecuted their fellow countrymen. Some Catholics behaved like Muslims in order to survive although they were faithful to Christ in their hearts. The Ottoman occupation lasted four centuries and with time Islam was rooted in the local society. Therefore, when the Turkish occupant was thrown out of the country it turned out the Catholics were the minority in their own country. Moreover, Orthodox Serbs settled in Bosnia. The Serbian Orthodox Church managed to create some modus vivendi with the Turkish occupant and the Church survived thanks to it. Many Catholics, who had to choose Islam or Orthodox faith, joined the Orthodox Church.
In 1976, the dictator Tito proclaimed the existence of 'the Muslim nation' in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to adulate the Islamic countries, and he mixed the religious and political identity.

"Niedziela" 50/2005

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl