Bosnian nationalism

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The flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in use 1992–1998, included the coat of arms of the Bosnian medieval Kotromanić dynasty. Although intended to represent the country as a whole, the flag effectively became the symbol of Bosniaks as the Croats and Serbs fought against the Bosnian government during Bosnian War.

Bosnian nationalism or Bosniandom (Bosnian: bosanstvo / босанство) is the nationalism that asserts the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as mainly supported by Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims),[1] or that asserts the identity of Bosnians as a multireligious[2] or non-religious people.


The earliest vestige of a Bosnian identity initially emerged in medieval Bosnia and lacked any religious connotation. The situation remained largely unchanged throughout the Ottoman period with terms such as "Boşnak milleti", "Boşnak kavmi", and "Boşnak taifesi" (all meaning, roughly, "the Bosnian/Bosniak people") being used to describe Bosnians in an ethnic or "tribal" sense. After the Austro-Hungarian occupation in 1878, the Austrian administration officially endorsed a multi-confessional Bosnian nation. The policy aspired to isolate Bosnia and Herzegovina from its irredentist neighbors (Orthodox Serbia, Catholic Croatia, and the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire) and to negate the concept of Croatian and Serbian nationhood which had already begun to make headway among Bosnia and Herzegovina's Catholic and Orthodox communities, respectively.[3][4] Nevertheless, in part due to the dominant standing held in the previous centuries by the native Muslim population in Ottoman Bosnia, a sense of Bosnian nationhood was cherished mainly by Muslim Bosnians, while fiercely opposed by nationalists from Serbia and Croatia who were instead opting to claim the Bosnian Muslim population as their own, a move that was rejected by most Bosnian Muslims.[5][6]

In an 1891 article of the journal Bošnjak ("The Bosniak"), author and mayor of Sarajevo Mehmed-beg Kapetanović declared that the Bosnian Muslims belonged to the South Slavic peoples, but were neither Croats nor Serbs.[7]


Upon the founding of Yugoslavia in 1918, Yugoslav unitarists claimed that there was only one single Yugoslav nation and that the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes were recognized as the "tribes" of the Yugoslavs, this excluded recognition of Bosnians as a distinct people of Yugoslavia and provoked frustration amongst Bosnian Muslims.[6] In response to a lack of recognition, the Yugoslav Muslim Organization (JMO) was founded in 1919 with support of the Muslim intelligentsia and social elite, that sought to defend Muslim identity - including religious, social, and economic rights within Bosnia and Herzegovina.[6] In 1935–38 the JMO took part in government, when it had the goal of preserving the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[6] This failed, however, as an autonomous Croatian province that incorporated territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was created in 1939.[1]

Husein Kapetan Gradaščević, also known as "Zmaj od Bosne" (Dragon of Bosnia) is one of the most important Bosniak national heroes.

Bosnian nationalism received a severe setback during World War II when Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers and Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed by the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) that regarded the Bosnian Muslims as "Muslim Croats".[1] By late 1941, much of the Bosnian Muslim elite openly criticized the NDH regime for its policy toward its minorities, and demanded autonomy for Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1]

With the creation of communist Yugoslavia in 1945, Bosnia and Herzegovina was restored as a territorial entity and as one of the six constituent republics of the federal state of Yugoslavia.[1] To resolve the Serb-Croat dispute over Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Yugoslav government in 1971 recognized Bosnian Muslims as a nationality.[1]

Bosnian nationalism has been tied to Alija Izetbegović's publishing of the Islamic Declaration that called for an Islamic renewal amongst Bosnian Muslims.[1] Izetbegović was arrested by Yugoslav state authorities in 1983 on allegations that he was promoting a purely Muslim Bosnia, and served five years in prison.[1] In 1990, Izetbegović and others founded the Party of Democratic Action, that became the main Bosnian Muslim party in the Bosnian parliament.[1] The eruption of the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995 strengthened Bosnian Muslim identity.[1] In 1993, "Bosniak" was adopted as the name of the Bosnian Muslim nationality.[1]

Bosniak nationalism

Bosniak nationalism is largely focused on preserving the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to ensure the national rights of Bosniaks within the state.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Motyl 2001, pp. 57.
  2. ^ Eller 1999, p. 262.
  3. ^ Velikonja, Mitja (2003). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. pp. 130–135. ISBN 1-58544-226-7. 
  4. ^ Robert Donia, John VA Fine (2005). Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed. Columbia University Press. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Central and South-Eastern Europe 2004. 4. p. 110. 
  6. ^ a b c d Motyl 2001, pp. 56.
  7. ^ Eller 1999, p. 263.