Sir: Robert Block's account of the fall of Srebrenica ("They were led away and they were all killed", 21 September) reminds us once again of Europe's failure of moral principle in Bosnia. But to understand the pro- Serbian sympathies of members of the Dutch UN batallion in the enclave, we need, I fear, to acknowledge a more deep-seated problem.
Our charity brought aid to Srebrenica refugees as they arrived in Tuzla, and they repeated to us the charge, familiar to aid workers in Bosnia but scarcely mentioned in the international press, that European troops are often deeply prejudiced against Muslims, and explicitly boast a sense of "Christian" solidarity with the Serbs and Croats. I have myself encountered this shameful bias in conversations with UN soldiers. It is not hard to discern its origin: many are recruited from inner-city areas where young people routinely vote for growing neo-Fascist parties, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric is virulently anti-Muslim.
Jewish communities were Europe's scapegoat in the 1930s; now it is the turn of the Muslims. In Bosnia, and also Chechnya, they are discovering what European bigotry can still achieve. It is time that the problem of anti-Muslim chauvinism, which is something quite different to hostility to Islamic fundamentalism, is recognised by the international order, and steps taken to uproot it. The thousands massacred at Srebrenica must serve as a reminder of where our complacent bigotries can lead.
Bosnia Aid Committee
21 SeptemberReuse content