21 years ago today a great battle took place in Bosnia.

In the early hours of Friday, 21 July 1995, days after the massacre of 8000 innocent Muslim men, women and children in Srebrenica, the Bosnian Army launched a major offensive against Serb positions in the vicinity of the central Bosnian town of Zavidovic.

Along with dozens of Bosnian Army soldiers, over 30 foreign fighters from its Mujahideen brigade were killed in this battle.

The photograph above is that of a war memorial that stands today in Safvet-bega Bašagića Street, Zavidovic town centre.

It contains the names of dozens of foreign fighters killed in the region during the war. It contains the names of several of my friends, men whom I personally knew and lived with.

The text on the monument (translated) reads:

“Shahids [foreign martyrs], fallen fighters and civilian victims of the defensive-liberation war in BiH 1992-1995 from the Municipality of Zavidovići…”

Following that is a poem, excerpts from which read:

“Do you know that in Bosnia
the tears of those who cry take the shape
of the faces of those that are being mourned?

Do you know that at night in Bosnia
rivers flow directly into the heavens?

Do you know that in Bosnia everyone
has the right to live only once
and to die a thousand times?

Do you know that in the sky over
Bosnia there are more stars
then there are stars in the sky…

Do not dream and do not wait for justice
be like Bosnia. Fight for justice…”

When we remember the horrible events of Srebrenica, is it not true that were it not for these heroes then more innocent Bosnian Muslims would have been massacred?

Was it not the concept of Jihad that helped to protect the innocent people of Bosnia from terrorism such as what happened at Srebrenica?

Should those who kill innocent people and call it “Jihad” be allowed to claim that they somehow represent the legacy of these heroes?

These heroes faced soldiers on a battlefield to protect innocent people from terrorism. They never took the soul of any innocent person.

When people kill innocent people and claim that it is “Jihad”, do they not dishonour the legacy of these heroes?

If I am wrong to say this, would someone please correct me…

Read more about what I saw in Bosnia in the interview I gave to The Guardian newspaper here.

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