Before visiting Sarajevo, I heard form many a friend in Serbia and Croatia the following line, “They have become such Islamic extremists in Sarajevo now. All the women are wearing head scarves. It’s terrible what’s happening there.” You see, for those that don’t know, Bosnia Herzegovina is one of the few European countries to have a very strong Muslim population, thus the term Bosniak, which actually means a Bosnian who is Muslim and for some reason, Firefox keeps thinking is a misspelling for some reason.
Most people estimate that the citizens of Sarajevo are around 90% Bosniak, meaning that 90% of Sarajevo is Muslim. Many people are probably thinking that it was all beards and head scarves. There were in fact, very few. Maybe one in every twenty women had a head scarf. With the guys it was even harder because guys in the Balkans don’t like to shave often and thusly, many had some scraggly beards.
So what you might see in Sarajevo that seems to be so Muslim is in fact very rare. I think I’d see these sightings nearly as much in a big city in the US. All of the people who told me about the fact that “all the women are wearing head scarves now” had in fact not been to Sarajevo recently and were just generalizing about something they hadn’t seen, which happens quite often.
The bigger shock for people in the Balkans with the Muslim issue is that before the war no one wore the scarves and now a few do, so to the close-minded, this is a huge change. But I think this is more a sign of national pride, just how the Croats and Serbs fly their freaking flags in every corner of every street they can. Or even more to the point, how Americans will wear the American flag on any and all pieces of clothing or fly it from the back of a pickup truck.
To summarize, get over it. The people of Sarajevo are wonderful, beautiful, and insanely hospitable. The idea that they are Muslim extremists is as ridiculous as thinking that there is really a such think as a Croatian Burek.
As a subtext on the title, it’s not completely mine, just a re-writing of a t-shirt that I saw around the center quite a bit and found rather funny.