October 23, 2003 by

Alija Izetbegovic

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Categories: Politicians

Alija Izetbegovic, the former president of Bosnia Herzegovina, died on Oct. 19 from heart disease. He was 78.
Born in northern Bosnia, Izetbegovic joined the Young Muslims, a group torn between siding with the Nazi-sponsored Handzar divisions and the Yugoslav Communist party (Izetbegovic supported the Handzars). After a Communist government was established in 1946, a military court sentenced Izetbegovic to prison for three years for his political affiliations. Upon his release, he graduated with a law degree from Sarajevo University and took a job as a legal adviser to two large Bosnian companies.
In 1970, he published the book, “Islamic Declaration: A Program for the Islamization of the Muslims and the Muslim Peoples.” In it Izetbegovic called for a political and religious revolution. The work offended the Communist government, and Izetbegovic was arrested on charges of conspiring to create a Muslim state. He was convicted and received a 14-year prison sentence but was released in 1988.
Backed by the Muslim-based Party of Democratic Action, Izetbegovic won his country’s first free parliamentary elections in 1990, and was named Bosnia’s leader. Although he had a reputation as a moderate, Bosnian Serbs were suspicious of his religious background and accused him of trying to establish an Islamic republic in Europe.
When Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia declared their independence, Izetbegovic decided to support the idea of an independent Bosnia. The country’s Serbian population wanted to remain within a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Unable to come to a resolution on this issue, the Serb rebels, led by Slobodan Milosevic, began an ethnic cleansing campaign that left 260,000 people dead or missing.
Although Izetbegovic rejected many of the peace accords suggested by the United Nations, the Dayton peace treaty was signed in 1995. It ended Europe’s worst conflict since World War II and split Bosnia into a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb Republic. Izetbegovic resigned in 2000.

One Response to Alija Izetbegovic

  1. Fuad

    Alija Izetbegovic was a great man that shall be remeber for ages to come.He Defended his country with all his power and didn’t abondon his people when hard times came knockin on the door.

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