Ferguson, Zemir Begic, the Agenda of White Supremacists and Bosnian Americans

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.


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  • About the autor
    Arnesa Buljusmic

    Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura is Bosniak-Muslim currently residing in Iowa. She is a counselor with interests in transnational feminism, race, and Bosniak history.

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    • Martin

      Being a white Muslim in STL I do not see race. It is against my faith to look down upon a community because of the color of someone’s skin. As Muslims we view or at least I view people by there actions. When this whole Ferguson thing started it wasn’t about race. It was about a bad cop who killed an innocent child. I was on board with this issue. It wasn’t until black nationalism took over that I took a step back and stayed away from the cause. Your article brings up valid points about white supremacy which is not to be ignored, yet to only bring up that end of the argument is false. There has been way more black nationalists in the streets of Ferguson than white supremacist. I’ve heard way more talk about segregation WITH IN the African community since this incident than any other? Why not point out these issues? Because it would be politically incorrect to do so, and to stay this story was advertised on the news is nonsense. I saw it on the local news for a day and then it disappeared. You make valid points, you just don’t see the situation as a whole. To say that racism or some form of it had nothing to do with this MUSLIM brothers death is absurd. To say these kids that killed him if they happened to be African-American that his race didn’t have something to do with it is a repugnant statement. The Ferguson situation is on every ones conscious in Saint Louis City right now. Doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the situation everyone here is thinking and talking about it and it is making the citizens of this city uneasy. So for you to say that this man’s murder has no direct link to Ferguson is a lie. Those kids that killed our Muslim brother were thinking about Ferguson subconsciously regardless if they knew it or not. I know this because there human like me and everyone here is thinking the same thing…WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TONIGHT!

    • Jasenka

      You make a valid point about the conservative media using the Begic case to further their agenda rather than because they truly care about what happened. And I agree that direct comparisons between the two cases shouldn’t be made, because they are two seemingly independent events. However, it is invalid to say that Begic’s murder was not racially driven. Racial tensions have always been very high in St. Louis and now they are at an all time high. The Bosnian community is calling for investigation in that matter, and no, it is not because they “played in” to the conservative racist agenda. To suggest that is insulting to their ability to simply observe and analyze situations. I also think that it is invalid to imply that justice has been served, so just be quiet now. While, yes, 3 out of the 4 alleged murderers have been arrested, and it looks like the 4th one will be soon, I think that you missed the point of the “Bosnian lives matter” mantra. The neighborhood where the murder took place is predominantly Bosnian – their homes, shops, bakeries, restaurants, chamber of commerce, etc, are all there. They call it Little Bosnia. The problem is the lack of police presence in the neighborhood. This is not the first murder of a Bosnian near their home in Little Bosnia and the people simply do not feel safe. So, when you see or hear someone there say “Don’t Bosnian lives matter?”, it is actually a call for help and protection, not an objection to how the case is being handled, as you suggest. In general, the Bosnian community is not equating this to the Ferguson murder. They’re upset, shocked, hurt, desperate and angered that another member of their community has been savagely murdered.
      Anyway, the article was a good read. It’s nice to hear varying opinions and interpretations, and my comments were not meant to sound like an attack. Just a clarification on some points from a member of the St. Louis Bosnian community.

    • BegicMurderCoveredUp

      Find the video shot by an eye witness at the scene where they are carrying Zemir Begic to the ambulance. The videographer heard the youths yell “kill the whites” before they killed him with their hammers. The site is closer to Ferguson than you said. It IS a hate crime and to spin it otherwise is a LIE You don’t have to be a white supremacist to see this unless you are just trying to discredit this story by saying only white supremists think this. People: Do your research! Begic’s brutal murder is being covered up since it occurred the night before the highly televised meeting of the president, DeBlasio, Sharpton and others for one reason, and to not incite more outrage and violence as another. Actually, burying this story is helping an entirely different agenda.

      • Mitchell Brown

        I saw the video and ALL we hear from the videographer is that he HEARD people running up and down the streets yelling what you allege. There is NO independently verifiable evidence. You WANT to believe what you want to believe. You’re no better than race-hustler Al Sharpton. No. Better.

    • Gildana GiGi Osmic

      Hmmmm…. i disagree kids were running up and diwn the street chanting recorded by a neighbor saying “we hate white people kill the white people” is not racial???? Hmmm

      • Mitchell Brown

        There is NO evidence of this. No one, not one person, who has captured what you allege on video. I find that very odd.

    • RhodeBoy
    • AnteMortem

      I think what you are really upset is that this narrative does not fit into your lefty social justice warrior narrative. Can’t really have two of your minorities at their throats, when they need to focus on hating the evil white man and the patriarchy. Also, I am Bosnian and have lived in Saint Louis for the last 15 years and there has always been tension between the Bosnian and Black communities here, and we all here know it. What Ferguson, the Begic murder, and now the brutal beating of a 24 year old Bosnian women (which is being investigated by the FBI as a hate crime do to the black men literally telling the woman that they are going to beat her up due to being Bosnian) has shown the Bosnian community just how biased the left media is in their coverage and race baiting.

    • florenceg

      What does she have to be identified as Bosnian Muslim? When did we start labeling journalists as Christians, Muslims, Hindu, Jews…? It’s a type of racial profiling in itself. SO unnecessary.

      Wonderful article, though. I have a great respect for Bosnian people – intelligent, educated and hard workers! Fight racism, and any form of discrimination, people!

    • The Canadian

      I hope it’s relevant to the topic but I’d like to partly quote a statement made by Adis Mahmuljin ( who is possibly Bosnian and who helped organize the Bosnian demonstration in St Louis,MO) which is “Everybody needs to take a step back and realize that these are young foolish kids that probably didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t know what they were getting into” and I have to disagree with Adis’s statement and even though I’m not saying nor implying that he or she is betraying the Bosnian community the reason why I disagree with Adis is because it sounds like that he or she is saying that if these teens didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t know what they were getting into that it gave them the right to unjustly harm even unjustly kill Zemir Begic (even if killing him wasn’t their intention.) Come on!Teenagers need to realize that their misdeeds (especially if its criminal misdeeds) should have consequences,besides,at least in Canada (my country) and U.S.A. it’s not uncommon for teenage criminals to be punished by law so having mentioned that I don’t have sympathy for Mr Begic’s killers being in jail or still being in jail (especially if they have no remorse),also,would Adis Mahmuljin still make excuses for these teens had they committed a similar act against his or her family? Possibly not.

      Two other points I want to raise is that since this article made references to black people I’d thought I point out that even though throughout history black folks are known to “have it tough” that it shouldn’t give them the right to wrong any non-black or any specific non-black they choose,after all, not all non-blacks are to blame for anti-black racism.The 2nd point I want to make by the way is that I’d rather be “truly” generous to a decent and easy to relate to Bosnian instead of a non-Bosnian who I don’t relate to certainly instead of a non-Bosnian who appalls and/or seriously annoys me so if you think about I’m judging the hypothetical Bosnian & non-Bosnian by their actions not their nationality etc.

    • Larry Gelnats

      And what your agenda?
      And how will the rest of us know when you complete it?

      • John Giannone

        Gee, you really don’t read very well. No shocking news there.

    • John Giannone

      This article is almost total crap. Anyone who is against the mayhem in Ferguson is not an “ultraconservative, white supremacist.” I wonder if you attack non-Whites with the broad strokes and racism you clearly do to all Whites, most of whom are totally outraged. To use your (il)logic, I could say Left wing, knee jerk, weak thinkers are only capable of stereotyping prejudice against Whites. Is it also part of the agenda that we don’t condemn the would be killer of the Brooklyn yeshiva student in peaceful study who was viciously stabbed in the head with a knife by a Black man who said, he was there “to kill some Jews.” From everything I have read, Mr Begic was a poster child of a good decent person who came to this country as an immigrant and refugee and you besmirch those of us who care for his life with your petulant racism??? I’m finding more and more that if a person insists on condemning violence from all sides, they are routinely labelled as racists. The truth is that people like the writer of this article is a profound racist who should perhaps focus on the wanton slaughter of the 200, 000 Syrians at the hands of the madman Bashar Assad, instead of stirring up total and complete bs.

    • Hercules Theban

      The person who wrote this article is a disgrace to her race. One of your people was butchered in front of his fiance by some black thugs and you turn around and state that “there is no clear motive”, that’s bullshit and you know it. A lot of blacks go out in the streets and shout “kill the white man” and you expect us to believe that there wasn’t a racial motive behind this attack. Even worse you then turn around and try to shift the focus away from the black savages who kill and rape innocent people and onto those “evil racist nazi whites” simply because they pointed out the facts.
      You are a disgrace and a race traitor.

    • Jim

      You’re just wrong, lady. Blacks and Hispanics murder one of your own, but the REAL injustice is the suspected racism of people who publicize the murder in a national light when other media outlets won’t. I guess the truly moral thing to do would be to ignore this man’s murder. Sounds like you’re trying to get a job at NBC or something.

    • John Bluebeard

      The author’s cited facts about the Brown shooting are mostly wrong (did she even read the transcripts), but the more troubling part is the assertion that justice was not done there. The Justice Department even reviewed the case and concluded that Wilson (the cop) should not be charged. There are several circumstances under which a cop can shoot an unarmed suspect, and the Brown case is one.

      I do agree that the two cases are not comparable. In my view, Begic is a case where 4 kids with hammers beat to death an unarmed man. If the eyewitness from YouTube is right, the kids were yelling “black lives matter, kill all the whites.” If another story is right, Begic may have been the kids’ second target of the night.

      On the other hand, Brown robbed a store, got into a scuffle through the window in a cop’s car, got shot point blank in the hand and left blood from that wound inside the cop’s car (along with bullet holes inside the car), and thereafter refused to surrender. The shots that killed Brown were fired from distances ranging from 10 to 30 feet.

      I just don’t see how the cases are comparable.