The conflicts in Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo created different perceptions regarding the periphery of Europe, the Balkans. The collapse of Yugoslavia destroyed the region. As welfare policies were interrupted, even basic needs were not met on time. The beginning of violent conflicts and displacement of people posed specific challenges to the newly independent states or even created pressure on the existing ones. However, the flow of particular organizations with faith-based characters became even more problematic. The latter aimed not only to change the borders but also to shift the boundaries between people. The main everyday activity was to spread Salafi Islam and attract more followers. Since the Ottoman Empire ruled almost all countries in the Balkan peninsula in the past, they still have members of the Muslim minority. The Turkish style of Islam, practiced in the Balkans for centuries, began to be challenged by the less tolerant aggressive Salafism. The issue took both regional and national character in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Situated next to the borders of the EU and subject to constant tensions, the problem posed a threat to regional security. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis will be made to understand the scope of developments and how they continue to affect the region today in line with new strategies to fight extremism.
This talk aims to analyze the effects of faith-based organizations' proselytizing and welfare activities in the Balkans during the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. It is crucial to understand how some challenges have played an essential role in reshaping the borders of contemporary Balkans and what effects they have on the modern understanding of religion in the area. The first part of this talk tackles the notions of Salafism/Wahhabism to give a glimpse of the phenomena. The second part explains the transition period and its challenges for the newly independent countries that experienced conflicts and mass displacement of people. Finally, the third part will tackle the divisive impact of proselytizing Islamic activities on the Muslim populations in the region that is considered the hem of Europe.
Dr. Nuri Korkmaz holds a Ph.D. in Transborder Policies for Daily Life from the University of Trieste in Italy, MA and BA degree in International Relations from Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey. Previously, he has been Marie Curie early stage researcher at KU Leuven (Belgium), visiting fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies of the University of Graz (Austria), Department of Border Region Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, and visiting scholar at the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, the University of Texas at Austin (USA). Dr. Korkmaz has recently completed two semesters long visiting Professorship in Central Asia at Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University in Kyrgyzstan, where he conducted fieldwork in the region and taught courses on the Contemporary Politics and Society of the Middle East, International Relations of Caucasus and Central Asia. His research interests are borders, minorities, nationalism in the Balkans, European border management policies, nationalism and religion in the Middle East, and European integration of the Balkans. He has published on topics such as Turkish/Muslim minorities in the Balkans, nation-building processes in multi-ethnic societies, and the role of political systems in accommodating ethnic minorities. Currently, Dr. Korkmaz is working as Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations of Bursa Technical University in Turkey. Apart from English, he speaks Bulgarian, Italian, Turkish, German and Serbo-Croatian.