Eduardo Rózsa-Flores (Chico) was killed on the 12th April 2009. He was born in Bolivia of a Catalan mother and a half-Hungarian half-Jewish father. He was raised in the communist revolutionary tradition of his family and was a natural born activist. After fleeing from Bolivia and Chile, he arrived, with his father, in Hungary. Chico studied in Budapest and Moscow, but his idealism made him unable to work in the intelligence service. As a soldier, he was assigned to be the personal translator to “Carlos the Jackal”, when the latter enjoyed the less and less enthusiastic welcome of the Hungarian communist authorities.

After the end of "Socialism", he worked as a journalist for the Spanish BBC and the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia in the Yugoslavian War, but becoming, fed up with the status of being the spectacle of the whole West, he put down the pen and took up the gun and founded the International Brigade fighting for the freedom of Croatia. Considered a national hero in Croatia, at the end of the war he was awarded with citizenship and the title of colonel, but in spite of having learnt Croatian, he went home to Hungary, where starred in an award winning film entitled “Chico”, about his turbulent life. He never touched the pension that Croatia granted him. He was a freedom fighter for free.

Disillusioned by the politics of Israel, he converted to Islam becoming the vice president of the Hungarian association of Muslims. In this function he went to bring humanitarian help to Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia (after the Tsunami), but he used to deliver aid to impoverished Hungarian Catholics, too, in the eastern part of the country.

Finally he was called back to Bolivia, by people of his native Santa Cruz opposing the first Indian president of the country, a coca producer backed by the Castro brothers, Chavez and Putin. Rózsa-Flores conducted an interview with General Salmon who had captured Che Guevara, and administered his execution at the order of the Bolivian president of that time. The main goal of the interview was the de-legitimisation of the dictatorial regime of Morales selling the country to foreigners. The appeal of this highly respected and influential general had to be infuriating for Morales, on top of the fact that Rózsa-Flores’ mission in Santa Cruz was to organise a military force in case the Creole part of the country should fight for independence against the parasite government of La Paz, as the Slovenes and Croatians had done against the Serbs. Rózsa-Flores was killed in a hotel room during a night raid by a military commando sent to Santa Cruz directly from La Paz, without any involvement by the local authorities. He and his companions, a Hungarian from Romania, an Irish and a Croatian, were shot in their sleep.

Rózsa-Flores was a controversial person. Depending on their own temperament, some see him as a bloodthirsty adventurer, drug contrabandist and mercenary, others as a radical idealist and freedom fighter. He was definitely a devout communist in his youth and labelled himself a fascist in his last years, but it shows only his acerbic irony towards those media that accuse anyone with patriotic feelings of being a fascist.

His conversion to Islam was far more serious. It is clear that his multicultural and multi-ideological background as well as his restless personality made him a constant seeker. But his case indicates that (the often reproached) fact that violence is not necessarily prohibited in Islam makes it more appealing for people who feel that in certain cases quietism is unacceptable. Those who want to fight oppression can well be attracted by the idea of Jihad on the way of the only and just God.

While in the Bible we read: “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”, in the Qur’ān 60:8-9 we read:

God does not forbid you to act virtuously and with justice
towards those who have not fought you over religion
and have not driven you from your dwellings.
God loves those who act justly.
God only forbids you to make friends
of those who have fought you over religion
and have driven you from your dwellings
and helped in your expulsion.
Those who make friends of them
– those are the wrong-doers.
(Trans. Alan Jones)

This message of the Qur’ān corresponded to Eduardo Rózsa Flores’ activist character and fundamental conviction that men have to fight in defence of the oppressed. This does not mean that he lacked spirituality. He knew six languages and composed poetry in Hungarian, Spanish and Croatian, including a collection of his Sufi poems. But, in contrast to a general assumption in the West, Sufism is not quietist per se. There was a militant trend in Sufism since its beginnings and there still is today.

South American radicalism has been associated with communist guerrillas and the Catholic liberation theology. Now, the continent has a Muslim martyr, who fought and was killed in the same spirit as his South American or Muslim predecessors.