The Sarajevo Bombing: Turks demand help for fellow Muslims

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The Independent Online
ISTANBUL - Turkish leaders and journalists yesterday demanded Nato and UN military action to save Sarajevo, saying that passive acceptance of massacres such as Saturday's marketplace mortar bomb attack would only deepen a gulf opening up through Europe between the Christian and Muslim worlds.

President Suleyman Demirel again contacted world leaders to push Turkey's support of Bosnian government demands for air strikes on Serbian positions. A plea for lifting the arms embargo on Muslims was added by the Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, who visited Sarajevo last week.

'The point has long passed for Muslim countries, led by Turkey, to do something extra for the Bosnians, whose only crime is to be Muslim. More Turks should be part of the conflict there. If the state cannot go ahead because of its situation in the world, our people should run forward,' the commentator Gungor Mengi said in an angry leading article in Sabah newspaper.

The usually moderate Mr Mengi's fury and his analysis is shared by a remarkable number of Turks, not to mention other Muslims east of Bosnia. Concern about Bosnia is by no means limited to the Islamist fringe, and any Western visitor to Turkey hears a lot about it.

Turkey's passion stems from the fact that its republican elite are often the descendants of Muslim refugees from the Balkans after the collapse of 500 years of Ottoman rule. Balkan Christian suspicions of Turkey have done much to limit its latter-day role, but the fact remains that it has the biggest army in the region, is close to former Yugoslavia and is a Nato member with F-16 jets already overflying Bosnia.

THE 51-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference yesterday called for Nato air strikes against Bosnian Serbs, Reuter reports.