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The name of the polity of Bosnia as per traditional view in linguistics originated as a hydronym, the name of the Bosna river, believed to be of pre-Slavic origin.The name was adopted by the Ottoman Empire for the Sanjak of Bosnia and Bosnia Eyalet, and during the Ottoman period various Turkish-language variations of the root Bosna were used as a demonym (such as Turkish: ) was adopted as an ethnonym by the Bosnian Muslim leadership in the 20th century, the term having historically denoted all inhabitants of Bosnia, regardless of faith.English speakers frequently refer to Bosniaks as Bosnian Muslims or simply as Bosnians, though the latter term can also denote all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina (regardless of ethnic origin) or apply to citizenship in the country.Over two million Bosniaks live in the Balkans, with an estimated additional million settled and living around the world.Similarly, the 2002 Slovenian census recorded 8,062 people who registered as Bosnians, presumably highlighting (in large part) the decision of many secular Bosniaks to primarily identify themselves in that way (a situation somewhat comparable to the Yugoslav option during the socialist period).However, such people comprise a minority (even in countries such as Montenegro where it is a significant political issue) while the great majority of Slavic Muslims in the former Yugoslavia have adopted the Bosniak national name.Bosniaks are generally defined as the South Slavic nation on the territory of the former Yugoslavia whose members identify themselves with Bosnia and Herzegovina as their ethnic state and are part of such a common nation, and of whom a majority are Muslim by religion.
As Andras Riedlmayers's meticulous research for the Hague Tribunal demonstrates: What happened in Bosnia is not just genocide, the willful destruction of the essential foundations of one particular community or group of people within a society [....] What happened in Bosnia is also described as sociocide, the murdering of a progressive, complex, and enlightened society in order that a regressive, simple, and bigoted society could replace it.
Prior to this, the great majority of Bosnian Muslims had declared either Ethnically Undecided Muslim or – to a lesser extent – Undecided Yugoslav in censuses pertaining to Yugoslavia as the other available options were Serb-Muslim and Croat-Muslim.
Although it achieved recognition as a distinct nation by an alternative name, the use of Muslim as an ethnic designation was opposed early on as it sought to label Bosniaks a religious group instead of an ethnic one.
It is noted that writers on nationalism in Yugoslavia or the Bosnian War tend to ignore or overlook the Bosnian Muslim ideology and activity and see them as victims of other nationalisms and not nationalistic themselves.
The Early Slavs, a people from northeastern Europe, settled the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (and neighboring regions) in the sixth and early seventh century (amid the Migration Period), and were composed of small tribal units drawn from a single Slavic confederation known to the Byzantines as the Sclaveni (whilst the related Antes, roughly speaking, colonized the eastern portions of the Balkans).