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One Person’s Pride, Another Person’s Pain

May 18, 2007

Marija Serifovic has won the 2007 Eurovision song contest.  This is the first year that Serbia has entered the contest as an independant.  Eurovision Video

It wasn’t until today while visiting a website dedicated to my mother’s home town that I heard about her win.  It was to my horror to see a picture of Marija and her three finger salute proceeded by a very short story about her chetnik salute.

If you take a look at the wikipedia entry for the meaning of the salute you will find:

The three-finger salute (Serbian Cyrillic: три пpcтa; Latin: Tri Prsta) is a Serbian salute with the thumb, index, and middle fingers open.

The origin of the salute is commonly explained based on the Orthodox way of crossing, with the three fingers instead of entire hand (which is associated with the Christian Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).[1][2]

What you don’t find in that article is the psychological implications this salute carries with most Bosnians the Kosovars and the Croatians that have all lived through wars with Serbs.  Nowhere in that wikipedia article do you find the UN documented cases of two fingers being cut off of non-serbs by serbs so that all that remains is the three finger salute.  Nowhere in this article will you find how non-serbs were forced to hold up three fingers before their deaths or torture.  Nowhere in this article will you find the stories of Bosnians that were fleeing their hometowns being given the three finger salute as their buses passed Serb strong holds.  Nowhere in this article do you find any of the atrocities commited using this salute.  Nowhere in this article do you find an alternate meaning of three finger salute which stated something like, only serbs, all serbs and I’m not sure of the third point associated with it.  Regardless, I think I have made my point that to many other non-Serbian cultures this salute carries severely painful memories.

This isn’t the first time that the three finger salute has been brought to attention by a Serb in the spotlight.  Vlade Divac has also been known to flash three fingers after he or other teammates have scored points.  I’m sure it won’t be the last time we’ll see the three finger salute either and much like the Nazi salute, this salute will continue to cause controversy and reactions.

What surprised me the most in this case was that Marija Serifovic was given 12 points (the highest number of votes) by both Bosnia and Croatia and that her win is being attributed to cultural solidarity.  Why on God’s beautiful earth would anyone after that continue to flash a salute that they must know causes great pain to those who just supported her?  Maybe it was an innocent, heat of the moment reaction, but I haven’t seen an apology or explanation on her part.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2007 4:30 pm

    Bless you, dear Sister, for explaining the salute and why it causes so much pain. I will be looking out for it now. Maybe it was innocent but now we know about it.

    Ya Haqq!

  2. May 21, 2007 4:02 pm

    You’re welcome, Irving.

  3. Aleksandar permalink
    May 26, 2007 4:41 am

    They were doing to each other atrocities that is better we do not speak about here. Mad people use everyday symbols and everyday utensils to commit crimes. It does not mean I will never take a knife again to cut bread. Piece with you, this is just an innocent competition, if all Europe would start revealing their wounds and what they did to each other in the last century, we would never have a moment of piece. We could only pray that never to happen again. Molitva – Prayer will not fuse anything again. And three fingers mean nothing more than three fingers, as two eyes are two eyes whoever dared to cut them off the head in the recent or past history.
    We should start differentiate madness from innocence, otherwise mad people will drive us into their world easily, whatever symbols they might be using.

    Piece with you.

  4. May 26, 2007 8:37 pm


    Unfortunately, the three finger salute has been used to provoke, instigate and threaten in so many other situations that I have a very hard time looking upon it in innocent terms. How many sporting events between serbs/bosnians/croatians have scenes full of the serbian audience thrashing the three finger salute? In how many of those events have you seen croatians using the hitler salute? In how many of those events have you heard Bosnian Muslims chanting Allahu Ekber? Honestly, I don’t know that I have ever seen Croatians or Bosnians using any sort of religious or nationalist symbolism in sporting events. Anyone interested can do a youtube search on Edo Majka and see just what happens during soccer matches.

    Also, the three finger salute is in its revival period. It was not something that was done in the former ex-Yugoslavia. The re-birth of the salute comes in right at the point of the wars of serbs/croats and serbs/bosnians/croats.

    I assume that much hasn’t changed in terms of Serbs mostly being secular in religious practice, therefore I view the symbol as Nationalist rather than religious. In that case, I see it as an even greater insult. Knowing that the symbol caused great pain, knowing when the revival of the symbol took place and knowing that serbs are overwhelmingly adopting this symbol as national pride is of great concern to me.

    It is not of me that you need to ask to differentiate between madness and innocence. Rather, I ask that you look at how this symbol has been used amongst your countrymen and correct that. Serbs using it amongst themselves is one thing, using it within events that contain bosnians/croats or international events is quite another.

    As I stated before this salute will cause controversy much like the nazi salute does. Even the origins of the Nazi salute are before Hitler’s time, yet we do not see Germans using the salute and whenever the salute is used it causes pain and is condemed. Read about that here:


  5. zike permalink
    June 6, 2007 3:19 am

    Since you are so good at explaining the three finger salute, you might want to explain why the bosnian muslims “flash” the two finger one. What did you think she was supposed to do? wear a ljiljan on her forehead? She is serbian and has a right to be proud. I wonder what kind of salute the croatians would have “flashed”.

  6. June 6, 2007 3:56 pm

    Quite honestly, zike, I’m not aware of a Bosnian two-finger salute. I’m aware of a two finger salute being used by Croats and Bosnian Croats, but not by Bosnian Muslims.

    Unless the sign was used as international gestures of peace or victory it doesn’t even make sense that Bosnian Muslims would use a two finger salute. Doing a simple search on “Bosnian two finger salute” came up empty. It ran through my mind that if anything they would use one finger – the index finger – as we do in prayer to symoblize one god. My hunch was correct:

    During the Bosnian war, Serbo-Bosnian troops raised three fingers in a sign of victory, Bosnian Croats raised the two-finger V-sign and Muslims raised one (after the strict monotheism of Islam).

    However, I am not aware of that gesture being adopted into Bosnian culture after the war. While Islam enjoyed a revival period during the war as a natural reaction to being persecuted for being Muslim or carrying a Muslim name without regard to whether one was atheist, secular or Muslim, currently most Bosnians have reverted and are as secular as they were prior to the war.

    Furthermore, if it were the case that a Bosnian was up on that stage and did flash a one finger salute that was offensive and reminiscent of war crimes, I would have the same criticism. Moreso, I believe that Bosnians from Bosnia would be just as critical (based on the reaction of a city council in Bosnia attempting to make Assalamu Alaikum the official greeting and thereby making “dobar dan” illegal. In that case the Bosnian Muslim which constituted the overwhelming majority of that town voiced their criticism and shot down the law.)

    Now, if you are privy to some sort of information that Bosnians are in the present day and age flashing some sort of gesture that is reminiscent of war crimes to Serbs or within the international community – please feel free to post links. I realize that you will run accross a one finger salute by me, myself and I in your search – so I do warn you that that does not count.

  7. January 22, 2008 7:18 pm

    Aleksandar; perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Indeed. My country seems bent to have such individuals and ethninticity that it drives us apart. Bringing up the past like in a marriage, cannot save the future but will destroy it. Angry people are easy to persuade and control. Live and let live. If you allow these things to anger you, then you are allowing others to control your emotions. Peace on Earth may only be utopia but it is so nice to dream of. Well said on your post, it gives me a feeling of hope.

  8. Simo permalink
    March 8, 2008 9:19 pm

    Unless you yourself are from the area you should not tell others the meaning of their culture the three fingers has a religous meaning to serbs. Seeing as the serbs have survived through oppression by muslims and nazis and their faith is what kept them alive and together.

    At soccer games between Bosnia and Serbia, Bosnians raise Turkish flags and do chant Alluha Ekber. So why is it that only muslims are allowed to celebrate their religion which has caused as much pain to others as the jews and christians?

    What about the Croats cutting the thumbs off of the Serbs so that they can’t pray in church?

    Other cultures that used this had the fingers closed this meant victory.

    You yourself said that Croatians and Bosnians gave Maria the most points so that means that they don’t have any resentment towards the three fingers and the majority of croats now hate nazis. Also hooligans at sporting events will do anything to frighten the other fans even bringing nazi or confederate flags to insight conflict doesn’t matter where they are from.

  9. March 10, 2008 5:56 pm

    Simo – I’m Bosnian and I did live there for a year and visited every summer till I was 19 years old. My best freinds were Muslims and Serbs and so you’ll have to ask why the tri prsta weren’t around during the Yugoslavia days – why my Serbian friends and aquaintances never flashed three fingers. Whenever there was some sort of victory – I had to ask why they made the peace sign and found out that it was a symbol for the letter “V” for victory (it was common between Muslim, Croats and Serbs..

    “Seeing as the serbs have survived through oppression by muslims and nazis and their faith is what kept them alive and together.”

    ??????? In recent history .. who has been the subject of oppression and by who? Drop the Serb victim card, buddy. Serbs weren’t even the only victims of Muslim and Nazi oppression. Even the Bosnian Muslims will tell you that they weren’t happy with Turkish rule and it was Bosnian Muslims that were taking a stand against Turkish rule before Serbs did anything. Serbs always the victim – never the expansionists (throughout history!!!!!) – that’s a good one.

    I think this was a fair post. The post is titled “One Persons Pride, Another Persons Pain” I pointed out that this was a religious symbol for Serbs and then I went on to explain why Bosnians and Croats would be so upset by this display on the part of Maria. Additionally, there was a chetnik saying that offered three points and it was accompanied by the show of three fingers during the Bosnian war.

    And just what happened when Nazi flags and the Nazi salute was done in a game against Israel? The whole world knew about it, the whole world said it was wrong and sick. Why? Because we understand the pain that Jews have gone through during the holocaust. Freedom of expression does take a back seat to incitement of hate.

    “You yourself said that Croatians and Bosnians gave Maria the most points so that means that they don’t have any resentment towards the three fingers and the majority of croats now hate nazis.”

    The point is that they gave her the points right after her performance it was only upon her victory at Eurovision that she held up the three fingers – she got her points first.

    It is not my fault that chetniks chose to take a religious symbol and associate it with a chetnik saying as well as mutilate civillians to create a permanent reminder of what chetniks did.

    I honestly try to be fair on my blog – I have stated in numersous comments that there have been atrocities that Bosnians have committed during the war. However, this war didn’t come to frutition because of some Bosnian national expansionist agenda – it came about as Bosnia declared independance, seeking democracy, as a result of the uprise in Serb nationalism in the former SOCIALIST Yugoslavia. You and I both know that the everything SOCIALIST Yugoslavia stood for had to end with the rise of any nationalism. That was a given – ALWAYS. We were forced to have to defend ourselves without an army, thank you very much, every war will bring you atrocities and ALL atrocities need to be denounced and criticized. I’m doing my part – hajde sad i ti.

  10. Nidza permalink
    March 20, 2008 1:29 am

    Oh, poor you and your muslims… She showed three fingers and now you’re going to commit suicide? Does it hurt when you see the salute? Im glad if it does, because this just shows that you hate me and my people, because of them being proud of what they are? You know what, is a Serbian child of 5 years a murderer if he shows the sign?? You should be ashamed, the time when everyone was sorry for you is over, nobody gives a shit about what youre saying because THOSE DAYS ARE OVER, i am Serb, one of my best friends is bosniak, born in Sarajevo, me born in Belgrade, ive never argued with him about the war, I know that he has his thougts about serbs, and i have mine about bosniaks, but ive never said anything against him for being proud of his origin or religion! And why would Marija react on her salute? SHE IS SERB FOR GODS SAKE?! Thats what Serbs do! Whats next, Serbs shouldnt wave their flags anymore??? youre pathetic

  11. March 26, 2008 7:30 pm

    The tree finger sing will undoubtedly produce bitter and disturbing feelings in every person who had a chance to witness unspeakable atrocities during the time of the wars in ex -Yugoslavia. This form of saluting, or expressing the national pride or whatever it might mean to Serbian people, is now at widely held notion regarded as offensive and disturbing to the most of the non-Serbs from former state. The reasons for that are quite understandable and if we remember of the pictures of the Serbian forces entering the city of Vukovar and showing this notorious tree finger sign or if we recall also well known pictures from Bijeljina everything will become self explainable. This pictures and videos are now part of the public property.
    This might be a traditional Serbian way demonstrating a national symbol or a simple custom -raising tree fingers, it might be the true that most of the Serbs consider it as traditional and innocent but that is not the case for people of non-Serbian ethnicity whose families suffered and were affected by war(and in Bosnia I believe there is no family who was left untouched by war casualties).
    Most of the people from Croatia or Bosnia would feel uneasiness wherever they see this sign. Ordinary people in Serbia will have troubles understanding this uneasiness because they had Milosevic’s propaganda blocking the real insight into the situation for about 20 years.
    And it is certainly true, when we see the reactions from the people in Croatia and Bosnia whenever this sign is publicly shown, that the same sign has become something inseparable with the feelings of anguish, bitternes and menace.

  12. Gambi permalink
    April 3, 2008 1:17 am

    No one should get offended seeing a Serbian 3-finger salute. If criminals killed innocent people while saluting that way, that doesn’t make the salute “evil” or not good. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have gotten killed by the Americans and still are in Iraq, while the Americans have been using the 2-finger peace sign… How ironic.

  13. Gambi permalink
    April 3, 2008 1:29 am

    WoW… After taking a closer look through some of the posts here I see many people have no idea what they are talking about but are convinced they are right.

    First: Get it straight, Serbs never conquered other lands and tried to rule people outside Serb land. Yugoslavia wasn’t a “Serbian Empire”. Yugoslavia in fact was started on the initiative of Slovenia and Croatia, but Serbia took the leading role as it was the biggest.

    Second: Bosnian Muslims DO raise 2 fingers and DID raise 2 fingers during the war. Bosnian Muslims DO carry Turkish flags to games and yell Allahu Ekber. Big difference with that and Serbs raising 3 fingers at soccer matches. The 2 fingers, and turkish flags have nothing to do with Bosnian Muslims as a people! What does a Turkish flag have to do with Bosnia? Maybe because the Ottomans conquered the Balkans and that is how Bosnian Muslims were created, by islamization of the existing Serbs. This is why Bonsnian Muslims are called “Poturice”.

    For Samaha, you have a LOT to learn before you try explaining to people the things you don’t know.

  14. April 3, 2008 2:05 am

    Gambi – You’re right – I have a lot to learn – seems like I can learn a lot from Serbs themselves. You should look at my latest post and get the explanation of this salute from a Serb forum – and while you are at it – maybe you would like to explain that flag I have posted there.

    “No one should get offended seeing a Serbian 3-finger salute. If criminals killed innocent people while saluting that way, that doesn’t make the salute “evil” or not good.”

    Serbs mutilated non-Serbs so that these three fingers were the only ones left. Women were made to hold these three fingers up as they were raped. If you can not understand how victims of Serb aggression are offended by this salute – then there is something seriously wrong with you.

    As for the soccer games – you’re absolutely right – there’s no reason for Bosnians to bring in Turkish flags. I’m a little sick of the incitement on both sides. Islamization of existing Serbs? Well, that’s one version of the history. Then there is the Islamization of the Croats .. then the Islamization of the Bogomils. I think another version is that we were originally Poles that migrated south. Ummm, hmmm .. there’s a few more but I can’t remember them all. A mass conversion took place – that’s about the only consistency in the history. But what does this have to do with any of it anyway?

  15. braq permalink
    April 6, 2008 7:26 pm

    everyone except serbia has left the past behind them and is now trying to be progressive. since 1995 slovenia is a member of the eu, croatia is expected to enter in 2009. meanwhile, serbia became infamous again for ethnic cleansings in kosovo, has lost a war against the nato and recently lost its precious “cradle of serbian culture”. rumors have it that vojvodina may follow suit soon. i fear that the country is beyond salvation. they attacked foreign embassies and the officials didn’t do anything to prevent this. how should the west react to this? they will say “screw this country. leave them sitting in sredisnja srbija and displaying the tri prsta all they want, we don’t need them”

  16. Polona permalink
    May 31, 2008 3:43 pm

    Btw: Slovenia is a member of EU from May the 1st 2004.

    And about three fingers: I think that Marija just tried to show hers national identity. Of course for members of some other ex-yugoslavian states this can be really ofensive.

  17. Luis permalink
    September 10, 2009 1:24 am

    Go Fuck Yourself! Dont spread that anti-Serb, pro-muslim propaganda! “Serbs cutting of fingers” You Fucking muslims were cutting off HEADS! You Fucking muslims were circumcising Serbs and Croats! You fight with Christians, jews, anyone who is not a muslim. From someone who was in Republika Srpska in 94, 95, and saw first hand what type of animals you are, I’m happy to hear that you find pain when you see the three fingers. What were the Serbs to do? Kneel and let the mujahadeen kill their mothers and their children! You trying to teach people something about Serbs, learn your own history. What you did on 9 11! I hope the muslim friends you had in bosna are all DEAD!

  18. September 11, 2009 1:26 am

    Luis – a good many of those friends are dead but I’m still alive and I’ll honor their memory for the rest of my life by making sure that this event is never forgotten.

    As for you, once we get passed your rhetoric and fallacies, all we’re left with is a bunch of spewing hate.

    Thanks for helping the Bosnian cause to memorialize the war and its hate so that it may help deter other attempted genocides.

  19. Owen permalink*
    September 26, 2009 8:51 pm

    Luis may have been in a place where the mujahideen were committing unforgivable atrocities. That explains his anger, but it doesn’t excuse him from looking at the overall picture, and the way he expresses himself hardly suggests that he’s prepared to take a critical look at what people did in the name of his precious “religious” three-fingered salute.

    As an outsider I’m not going to weigh Luis’s screaming hatred in response to the death of innocent Serbs and Samaha’s restrained reminder about the deaths of so many Bosniaks in the balance, all those deaths were sacrifices to bigotry and viciousness.

    However as an outsider nor am I going to distance myself from the judgment of the outside world’s highest legal institutions that hatred of that kind led to genocide, and that genocide was as surely linked to the three finger salute as Hitler’s crimes were linked to the raised outstretched arm.

  20. pub permalink
    December 20, 2009 6:00 am

    Hey filthy Muzzie, here’s the three finger salute
    ~from an American 🙂

  21. pub permalink
    December 20, 2009 6:03 am

    Ah. Well said, Luis. Seems I’m not the only one that stumbled on to this grotesque Muslim party making up their next we-are-victims bullshit and thinking of how they can stop other people from continuing their traditions because it offends the sweet little Muslims, like the St. Georges Cross flag and the Israeli flag.


  22. Mirko permalink
    March 26, 2013 8:06 pm

    This bitch is full of shit… Everything she said is a third hand information… Mostly cuz bitch wasn’t even there during the war. She was here in the U.S safe and sound. Because of people like her, this animosity between Bosnians and Serbians will never stop… She’s an instigator !!! She is putting salt on the opened wound !! During that war, both sides were killing innocent people and doing all kind of monstrosities to each other… Bosnian Muslims are not innocent as they are pretending to be… They also killed women and children and raped and pillaged Serbian cities and villages. Everything in the name of Allah !! I’m sick and tired of Bosnians acting innocent and making victims out of themselves… Like I said they’re not… They are bunch of sell outs… They sold their Christian faith for gold… Bosnian Muslims use to be Serbs, they took Islam to save their asses during the Turkish oppression… Bunch of fucking traders…

  23. Im Just saying! permalink
    May 6, 2013 2:40 pm

    If one truly researches the crisis in Europe, in this case Yugoslavia ,one would conclude that the only party responsible for the atrocities in Yugoslavia is the “ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH”. This has been confirmed by many Catholic Historians/ Former Catholic Priests/Former Catholic Laymen as well as other historians…. NOTE the following books some can be read online “Secret History of the Jesuits” and “Convert or Die” both by Edmond Paris, “Vatican’s Holocaust” by Avro Manhattan, “Hitlers Pope” John Cornwell , and “MAGNUM CRIMEN” written by Viktor Novak a former CATHOLIC PRIEST of Croatia …. also GOOGLE “CATHOLIC NAZI’S IN PICTURES” and see for yourself!!! Research Ante-Pavelic and the Ustashe …….. and finally, please view the following video’s the first is entitled “CATHOLIC INQUISITION AND THE TOOLS OF TORTURE” by former CATHOLIC PRIEST Richard Bennett and the second video entitled “SISTER CHARLOTTE- ENTIRE TESTIMONY- CONFESSIONS OF A ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN” documenting the long history of atrocities committed by the “CHURCH OF ROME” . I can site many more historians but these will suffice for now! Take care to all ,and PLEASE DO RESEARCH on the above mentioned information for yourselves, as you will all give an account to GOD for yourselves! We must all give individual accounts to GOD for our individual actions and how those actions have impacted our neighbors and society as a whole!

  24. Ness permalink
    October 10, 2015 4:35 am

    I am an albanian orthodox. The three finger salute means not much to me. But afer reading some of the comments above, I came to the conclusion:
    1.The way the people explain it here, this is not a pride sign, this is a hate and revenge sign.
    2. Serbs are a sick people and they will never understand they are sick unless they understand the sufferings that they have caused the others in the region. They should stop being the victims when they are the butchers of the Balkans. Their “mad heroes” are in the courts of Hague and dying there one after the other. They should ask themselves why so many serb “heroes” are there. And they will always be hated from the others if they continue with these offensive “pride” signs against the others and stupid justifications for using them.


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