ANTI- COMMUNIST AS WELL AS ANTI-SALAFIST Nowadays more people greet me in the tram than in the mosque!

07.01.2017. u 01:48


Nedžad Latić, editor in chief of one of the most influential online magazines from Sarajevo that features high-quality analysis and articles about politics, spoke to “Start” magazine in his own direct, brave and relentlessly provocative manner!

Photo: Latić (TBT)

NS: The history has already made evident and insurmountable difference between Alija Izetbegović and Tayyip Erdogan; Alija said that it is better to let a hundred guilty people walk free than send one innocent person to jail, and Erdogan has put hundreds of innocent people to jail because of only one culprit – Fetullah Gulen.

Nedžad Latić, editor in chief of one of the most influential online magazines from Sarajevo that features high-quality analysis and articles about politics, spoke to “Start” magazine in his own direct, brave and relentlessly provocative manner!

1. What’s going on with the author who has published such a courageous political writing like your book “Sarajevo Armageddon”?

Latić: Personally, nothing new. Lack of money is constant at all writers so even if I’d like to celebrate my book’s success, and it really deserves to be celebrated since it has achieved the bestseller status, with the profit one can’t even take out good friends. I’m not sure yet if my fellow journalists and writers flatter me when they acknowledge my “intellectual bravery” I’ve demonstrated in the book, or they hide their own fearfulness or cowardice. So, that’s why I’m not taking anything for granted although I feel it’s much easier to breathe in the city.

2. Your online magazine The Bosnia Times is no “softer“ writing than the book itself. You are very sharp in criticizing the authority; you have even provoked discussions reminiscent of the dramatic ones among journalists and intellectuals during times after war.

Latić: It's in my nature, in my vocation. But I'm nostalgic for those after war times. I feel lonely because there aren’t more journalists of the caliber and stamina. Everything’s so superficial so there’s no one to discuss with.

3. Is that very nostalgia the reason you might like to turn The Bosnia Times into national magazine “Ljiljan”?

Latić: Maybe subconsciously, because I’ll never be over “Ljiljan”. You can see it by the chapter in my book “Sarajevo Armageddon” which I titled “Gone with Ljiljan”. But, I’m my own boss now and I definitely won’t allow myself to deal with stupidities as I used to in “Ljiljan”.

4. Do you have in mind discussions and texts of your brother Džemaludin like the one about mixed marriages?

Latić: On the contrary, those discussions marked and honored “Lijljan”. I thought of some primitive issues and finances. However, I regret that many Džemo’s brilliant texts were left in the shade by discussions of that kind. I even think that Džemo owes an apology to the children from mixed marriages, and they are many in Sarajevo because he never intended to offend anyone. His opponents twisted and spun many of his sentiments that are completely in accordance with Islamic principles and solely refer to believers who accept to live as such in accordance to Islamic principles and codes. Anyway, no one has the right in an amateur and secular state, and B&H is of a kind, to deprive someone of the right to choose the spouse.

5. Why didn't you think like that at the time?

Latić: It was time of vampiric post-communism and we, as anticommunists, wanted to respond. That’s why it is more ideological-political discussion rather than religious one. Today, at the time of “white plague” (population decline), and hundreds of illegal polygamous “sharia” marriages, this discussion is nonsense.  God, wish we had any normal marriages!

6. You've always had reputation of a controversial figure, and today you are perceived as a political convert since you had glorified Alija Izetbegović in “Ljiljan” as an unquestionable leader, and today you are definitely the severest critic of Bakir. Who or what has changed?

Latić: Situations are contradictory and paradoxical.  During the time of Alija, whom I wholeheartedly supported because I appreciated and loved him, there was more freedom. That was the time of intense discussions. I can’t remember that anyone missed anything. Unpleasant Mafiosi of Sarajevo were alive at the time. Today, under Bakir, people are afraid. In my opinion, SDA election campaign 2014 was creepy. I was “thrown into a bonfire” made on social networks by bigoted xenophobic Bosniak groups. And the most dangerous thing about it is the fact that it was all set up in SDA HQ. I got direct death threats only for writing in “the treacherous newspaper” Avaz!

PHOTO: Latić (TBT)

7. Is there a problem between you, who have always been affirmed believer and Wahabis who only insist upon religion?

Latić: When it comes to religious choice and the way of manifesting one’s religion, as far as I’m concerned, the rights belong to everybody. However, regarding ideological-political sense I’m antisalafi as much as I’m anticommunist! I don’t care even when someone is an atheist! But if someone uses violence, as communists used to do, as Salafis are using oppression for indoctrination of their own teachings and trying to suppress any other opinion, as well as belief different from their own perception of the world, I’m observed as an opponent.    

8. There's one more controversy related to you; you’ve switched your political views from right to left?

Latić: Our left is dead!

9. When did it die?

Latić: Let’s say it died on those famous plenums and demonstrations when the Presidency building was set on fire.

10. Why do the opposition parties in Sarajevo call themselves the leftists?

Latić:  In accordance with current political activity, they describe and call themselves the leftists. Otherwise, our so-called leftists only believe that humans evolved from primates, but they don’t believe that ideas and political processes perish and die out or evolve.

11. So you’ve remained loyal to the right?

Latić: Unfortunately, everything that “compliments” the right-wing in Europe, and the Balkans, can be find at the Bosnian right as well. Namely, it is populism of Bakir Izetbegović, as well as xenophobia manifested by some Bosniak media and religious radicalism manifested by prosalafi media, i.e. imams. As you can see in my texts and public appearances, I’m not there and I’ve never been!

12. Isn’t the pan-Bosniakism, you used to promote with Zukorlić and Cerić when you established Bosniak Congress, notorious populism and nationalism?

Latić: Yes, you are right; it all came down to that. There aren’t many places to read and see as primitive and nationalist proclamations as on web portals that support the aforementioned duo. That’s why I’ve given up on that.

13. You don't fancy Tayyip Erdogan anymore, right?

Latić: It’s not about my preferences to personas but in strong emotions I feel towards Turkey in general. It’s the same case with you, isn’t it?

14. Honestly, I’ve never felt better as a tourist as in Turkey. I’m sorry I didn’t make it to explore it fully. However, I’d like to get back to politics…

Latić: I’ll say then that I love Turkey, but I don’t support Erdogan’s politics, on the contrary!

15. You are a rare Bosnian intellectual who’s raised voice against oppression in Turkey and I refer to an open letter to Erdogan. Is that enough?

Latić: I’ve done something that public knows nothing about, and it’s related to that case.

16. What?

Latić: I wrote a letter to Bakir Izetbegović where I asked him to ask Erdogan to set free an acclaimed intellectual Ali Bulac.

17. He didn't accede?!

Latić: He obviously didn't.

18. Why do you keep insisting on Bulac precisely?

Latić: Because he is an outstanding intellectual who supported Bosnia, and he had a particularly high opinion of Alija Izetbegović as an intellectual. He considered him “Iqbal of the West”. He used to visit my family in Sarajevo and I introduced him to Alija.

19. In your letter to Erdogan you declare: “To you your Turkey and to us our Bosnia”. It’s not really in the spirit of legacy left to Erdogan by Alija.

Latić: It isn’t, not at all. I think that Erdogan and Bakir have taken that legacy literally; that Alija gave Bosnia to Erdogan with Bakir as the patron. It’s unacceptable and therefore, in addition to numerous salaams (greetings), money and visits, that kind of policy isn’t productive.

20. Aren’t Erdogan’s AKP and SDA fraternal parties, and isn’t Erdogan affirmed follower of Alija in terms of ideology?

Latić: It’s not so important what you and I think about that. The history has already made evident and insurmountable difference between Alija Izetbegović and Tayyip Erdogan; Alija said that it is better to let a hundred guilty people walk free than send one innocent person to jail, and Erdogan has put hundreds of innocent people to jail because of only one culprit – Fetullah Gulen. A couple of other claims could be added here.

21. Name at least two or three.

Latić: First, I simply have to believe that Erdogan will improve his politics when it comes to all these purges. Till then, we have to “keep an eye on” Bakir not to reach out for something stupid like persecution of people in Sarajevo. I’m afraid that Erdogan is leading a revolution similar to the one of imam Homeini in Iran and that time in Turkey is measured before and after him.

22. You paid the price because of the Iranian Revolution; I refer to 1983 arrests?

Latić: That could be an example of how big changes in Muslim countries almost always have to reflect badly on Bosnian Muslims and therefore we have to carefully observe events in Turkey. If we compare Erdogan and Homeini, treated by one-time media as the biggest “boogeyman“, the number of people he put in prison during his revolution is much smaller.

23. Why do you criticize the Islamic community that much? Isn’t it a sort of revenge because your brother wasn’t elected dean of Faculty of Islamic Studies?

Latić: There’s a little bit of revenge! I particularly take revenge on Hilmo Neimarlija who “blessed” all those fabrications in order to prevent Džemo’s election as the best candidate. But rascals who have occupied management positions in the Riyasat of the Islamic community are former editorial board of “Lijiljan” which is taking entire IC into the abyss! First, the IC is going to go bankrupt with them. Later on, it will lead to turmoil during which all their dirty linen will be aired and cause shame of a great majority of good and really hard-working imams!

24. How are you perceived today by congregation members?

Latić: Nowadays more people greet me in the tram than in the mosque!

25. What does it mean?

Latić: The congregational structure has changed so I go to the mosques reluctantly. I even avoid some of them. There aren’t any of old pious men. I meet different braggarts, dervishes, Wahabis, SDA zealots… None of them is flattered by my critical thinking so they want to “discuss” with me how can I, as an “absolute” believer, be against SDA.

26. Aren't mosques the place of peace for pious people?

Latić: Mosques as buildings or institutions really are of the kind. But people are no longer humble in their piety. They’ve become obtrusive and aggressive. I got used that people of that kind weren’t allowed to pray next to me being afraid that a State Security Service officer might take a picture of us.

27. You are actually a Sufi?

Latić: Yes, in the context where I insist upon spirituality. I’ve read Sufi classics, principally Rumi and Shirazi, and I’ve written a couple of prosufi books like “The Golden Beit”, biography of hafiz Halid ef. Hadžimulić. However, I don’t formally belong to any Tariqat order.

28. Among many of your escapades and controversies there’s a claim that Leo N. Tolstoy was a Muslim. You’ve even visited his grave.

Latić: I was instructed to do it by Hafiz Hadžimulić who was a great admirer of Tolstoy. He presented the facts which indicated that Tolstoy had died as a Muslim. I travelled to Yasnaya Polyana at his pleasure and visited the estate where Tolstoy’s grave is located.

29. It's a bit of an exaggeration to claim that, isn't it?

Latić: I don't claim it but I have the right to think of Tolstoy in that manner. His grave, for example, completely meets Islamic requirements. As you know, the body of a Muslim is placed in a grave lying on its right side and facing the Qibla. Tolstoy's grave is of the kind.

30. Any plans for your next book?

Latić: I don’t believe that I will write many books. Actually, I want to write only one more.

31. What are you going to write about?

Latić: Through literature I’ve met three characters, in my opinion unmatched in the entire world of art. They are: Shams Tabrizi from Masnawi by Jalaludin Rumi, Hafiz Shirazi as the author of unprecedented collection of poems “Divan” and Pierre Bezukhov from Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace”. Hafiz Hadžimulić introduced me to them during long soirees in his home.

32. What are you up to with these characters?

Latić: I want to bring them to my Sarajevo.

33. How?

Latić: I want to write an autobiographical novel in which these great characters would be my guests. Although it isn’t recommended to disclose plans in advance, I dare to do it in order to draw attention to necessity of spiritual renewal of Sarajevo. Without it Sarajevo is no longer Sarajevo!

PHOTO: Latić (TBT)