Iranian Soft Power and Religion in Bosnia

A Conversation with Harun Karčić

February 28, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Following the collapse of Yugoslavia and war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran stepped in to aid Bosnia’s beleaguered Muslims. Personal links were established between the Bosnian Muslim leadership and high-ranking Iranian officials. Iran saw Bosnia as an opportunity to exert its influence, while the Bosniak Muslim leadership welcomed Iranian financial, diplomatic, and military assistance. However, aid came with strings attached, and even during the war, Iranian humanitarian organizations began translating and distributing books on Shia interpretations of Islam.

In this conversation, journalist and scholar Harun Karčić discussed his new short documentary film Iranian Soft Power and Religion in Bosnia: A Diplomacy of Shared Oppression. This film, which was produced by the Berkley Center’s Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power (GRSP) project, analyzes the history of Bosnian-Iranian relations and whether and to what extent Iran managed to win hearts and minds among Muslims in Bosnia. Peter Mandaville, Berkley Center senior research fellow and director of the GRSP project, moderated the discussion.

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