|"Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs"|
Still from the video showing Novislav Đajić (right) and Nenad Tintor (left) covered in face paint playing instruments
|Song by Željko Grmuša|
Remove Kebab is an anti-Muslim propaganda music video from the Yugoslav Wars. The phrase originated in Serbia as an anti-Muslim slogan, that has spread globally among white supremacists and as a meme which implies ethnic cleansing of Muslims.
The song was originally called "Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs" (Serbian: Караџићу, води Србе своје / Karadžiću, vodi Srbe svoje, [ˈkaːrad͡ʒiːt͡ɕu, ˈvoːdi ˈsərbe ˈsvoːje]), but is also known as "God Is a Serb and He Will Protect Us" (Serbian: Бог је Србин и он ће нас чувати / Bog je Srbin i on će nas čuvati, [ˈboːɡ je ˈsərbin iː ˈon t͡ɕe naːs t͡ʃuːvati])[a] and "Serbia Strong".
At the peak of the inter-ethnic wars of the 1990s that broke up Yugoslavia, a song called "Karadžiću, vodi Srbe svoje" (English: "Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs") was recorded in 1993. The song was composed as a morale boosting tune for Serbian forces during one of the wars. In the video of the song, the tune is performed by three males in Serbian paramilitary uniforms at a location with hilly terrain in the background. Footage of captured Muslim prisoners in wartime Serb-run internment camps are also featured in the video.
Parts of the tune attempt to instill a sense of foreboding in their opponents with lines such as "The wolves are coming – beware, Ustashe and Turks". Derogatory terms are used in the song, such as "Ustashe" in reference to nationalist Croat fighters and "Turks" for Muslim Bosniaks, with lyrics warning that Serbs, under the leadership of Radovan Karadžić, were coming for them.
The song's content celebrates Serb fighters and the killing of Bosniaks and Croats along with wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, who was on 24 March 2016 found guilty of genocide against Bosnian Muslims and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War (part of the Yugoslav Wars). Karadžić was convicted "of persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer, and murder in connection with his campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces." On 20 March 2019, his appeal was rejected and his 40 year sentence was increased to life imprisonment. During the Bosnian War, the song was a marching anthem for nationalist Serb paramilitaries (revived "Chetniks").
In 2006 the song was posted to the Internet, where throughout the mid-2000s many parodies of the meme mocked the original video for its aggressively jingoistic nature. The meme gained popularity amongst fans of grand strategy computer games by Paradox Interactive, where it referred to the player aiming to defeat the Ottoman Empire or other Islamic nations within the game. Due to the challenge of differentiating between sarcastic and genuine hyper-nationalism surrounding the meme, it was banned from Paradox Interactive's official forums.
The song's popularity rose over time with radical white nationalists. Novislav Đajić, the song's accordion player, has since become a widespread 4chan meme among nationalists and is called "Dat Face Soldier" or the image itself as "Remove Kebab". Đajić was convicted in Germany for his part in the murder of 14 people during the war resulting in 5 years imprisonment and deportation to another country following his jail sentence.
Academic research found that in a dataset obtained by scraping Know Your Meme in 2018, "Remove Kebab" constituted 1 of every 200 entries per community in a data set sampled for political memes. "Remove Kebab" was particularly common on Gab, a website which "attracts alt-right users, conspiracy theorists, trolls, and high volumes of hate speech".
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australia-born terrorist in the 2019 mass shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, had the phrase "Remove Kebab" written on one of his weapons. In his manifesto The Great Replacement (named after a far-right theory from France of the same name by writer Renaud Camus), he describes himself as a "kebab removalist" in addition to being "an Ethno-nationalist, Eco-fascist" and "racist". He also livestreamed playing the song in his car mere minutes before the shootings on Facebook.
Following the Christchurch mosque shootings, various videos of the song were removed from YouTube, including videos with over a million views. After that, users on the online platform re-uploaded the tune, stating that it was to "protest censorship".
In an interview following the shooting, the main singer of the song, Željko Grmuša, stated: "It is terrible what that guy did in New Zealand, of course I condemn that act. I feel sorry for all those innocent people. But he started killing and he would do that no matter what song he listened to."
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