How White Supremacist media pundits used the Begic murder to create a black on white racist agenda, and how the Bosnian American community played in to it.
On Sunday, November 30th, a tragedy hit the Bosnian-American community. Zemir Begic, a 32 year old Bosnian man was beaten to death with hammers by several teenagers of multiple races. No clear motive is known as of yet. The brutal murder occurred near Bevo Mill, St. Louis, which is approximately 20 miles away from Ferguson, MO. As such, the media was quick to connect this heinous crime to the riots and protests of Ferguson. St. Louis is home to the largest Bosnian community in America.
After the murder, an outraged and grieving Bosnian community took to the streets to protest ongoing violence within the community as Zemir Begic makes the fourth Bosnian American in this area murdered in the past year from members outside of their community. I grieved and mourned with them as they expressed their outrage to this horrid murder.
The next day I followed up on the news of Zemir Begic’s murder and noticed a disturbing pattern. White supremacists, neo-Nazi, and ultra-conservative websites began posting about the murder. Zemir Begic, a Bosnian Muslim immigrant, suddenly became the poster child for “black on white” crime, with all of these articles referencing Begic’s attackers as of the Latino and Black race. The irony was seemingly lost on those who were using Zemir Begic’s murder to further promote their own racism and anti-blackness. In any other circumstance, these same pundits would consider Zemir Begic a terrorist, a dirty immigrant and a barbaric Muslim. The same people who are hardly advocates of immigrants or Muslims, were expressing their love and solidarity with the Bosnian community to further their own racist agendas. Certain members of this same Bosnian community joined in and supported the black on white framing of the brutal murder.
In addition, social media sparked a comparison between Begic’s murder and that of Mike Brown, the 18 year old who was heading to college, and was shot 6 times by Officer Darren Wilson for walking in the street in Ferguson. He posed a threat to the officer has been the ongoing statement by these pundits. In comparison, Zemir Begic, a “white man”, they cite, was the 32 year old newly engaged man, beaten to death by 4 “black” teenagers for no apparent reason.
To compare these two horrid murders to one another is to do a great disservice to both the Bosnian community and the African-American community. This comparison is far more problematic as it reveals deeper racial issues in America then they would admit to. Mike Brown was killed by an officer of the state. He was killed by those who are supposed to be protecting civilians even though he was unarmed, had his hands up (per the autopsy report) and was 148 feet away from Officer Wilson. Zemir Begic was killed by 4 criminals who are charged as criminals and will be going to trial as criminals. Mike Brown’s body was left in the street for 4.5 hours before being pulled away by some sort of an unidentified vehicle. Zemir Begic’s body was removed and put in the ambulance as soon as the police arrived on the scene. Mike Brown’s killer was never arrested, never indicted, and most certainly will not be going to trial. Zemir Begic’s killers have been arrested, charged, and will be going to trial.
The comparison of the two murders is false equivalence. Mike Brown did not get his justice, but Zemir Begic has and hopefully will continue to when the killers are put on trial.
I applaud the Bosnian community’s commitment to our people. I applaud the fact that for the first time in a long time I’ve seen our community go out and protest. I applaud the Bosnian community’s care for our people. All of these are commendable things. However, I cannot condone casting Zemir Begic’s murder as racist or the prosecution of the criminals who attacked him as unjust. I am disgusted by how Zemir Begic’s tragic death is used by white supremacists to further their own agenda of hatred and intolerance. I do not applaud the hate and ignorance I keep seeing from my own community who play in to this.
To those Bosnians who ask “Why is nobody protesting about this?”- no one is protesting because the murderers of Zemir Begic have been arrested. For those Bosnians who ask “Why isn’t this on the media?”- The story appeared on several different media outlets, including Fox News and CNN. For those who ask “Don’t Bosnian lives matter?”- it is apparent by the immediate arrest they do matter.
Mike Brown’s murder and the Ferguson protests only gained the attention of mass media after social justice activists continuously brought attention to it, only after hundreds and even thousands of people posted about it, and only after members of the Ferguson community stepped out on the streets and started protesting for over 100 days. In the end Darren Wilson was still not arrested.
As members of the Bosnian community, as those who have seen, felt, and experienced oppression of unjust courts and corrupt governments through the Bosnian genocide and the Balkan wars we should stand in solidarity with the African-American community. As members of the Bosnian community, we have seen far too much violence, pain, and unjust verdicts handed out by the members of the Hague court. We should understand more than anyone how it feels when a murdered child does not receive the justice he or she deserves. After all there are still plenty of war criminals who have not been arrested nor charged with the crimes they inflicted upon Bosnian children, men, and women. We, above everyone else, should know how injustice feels.
It’s because of our past and the oppression we endured through the Bosnian genocide that we should not allow ourselves to succumb to racism. It is because of everything our people have gone through that we should not allow ourselves to stand with white supremacy. We should stand against it. If we want to honor Zemir Begic we should not allow anybody to exploit his murder for their own political gain or to advocate their own racist agenda. As members of an ethnic minority, as members of the Muslim community, we should know better than to demand justice for Zemir Begic through condemning the entire African-American community as his murderers. As members of a marginalized group of people we should not continue to join in and promote racism.
Zemir Begic’s life matters. Let us honor it by not abusing the circumstances of his death to draw false equivalency with another murder where justice clearly has not been served.