Balkan media has reported that the head of the Islamic Community in Serbia, supported by Bosnian Grand Mufti and European Muslim Brotherhood leader Mustafa Ceric, has been re-elected as chief Mufti over the objections of rivals. According to one report:
Members of the Council of the Islamic Community in Serbia have re-elected Muamer Zukorlic as the chief mufti in Novi Pazar despite non-recognition of the vote by rivals. The chief mufti’s term in office is five years, and Zukorlic has been at the helm of the Islamic Community council since 1993. Zukorlic said his re-election was a sign of support for the legality and legitimacy of the community he was heading. “Trust bestowed upon me is a great honour and it translates into my responsibility to continue defending and building a free and autonomous Islamic Community,” Zukorlic told the media. He went on to say that the Islamic Community wanted to be a partner to the state in developing further mutual relations but added that these relations would now be tried and tested in order to see “if the state’s attitude towards this community has changed.” Mufti Zukorlic explained the state had to show its good will by launching an investigation into the conduct of some state organs in the previous period. He called on the authorities to show respect for the Muslims who would not, as he put it, allow the situation in which they would be entitled to fewer rights than other peoples living in Serbia. Speaking about the main goals of the Islamic Community in the forthcoming period, he said Bosnia and Herzegovina would continue to be the spiritual centre of the community, going on to say that he recognised solely reis-ul-ulema Mustafa Ceric as the supreme leader. “Bosnia is the oldest child of Turkey, the country which is perceived by all the Muslims in these parts, including Albania, as their mother country,” said Zukorlic.Zukorlic was first elected leader of the Sandzak Muslims in 1993, when the Meshihat (Islamic Community Council), as an organisational unit of Bosnia’s Islamic Community Riyaset (the Supreme Council) was formed in this Muslim-dominated south-western region of Serbia after the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Zukorlic is now 38. At the time when he was elected leader in 1993, he was the youngest religious leader in the Balkans. The Riyaset of the Islamic Community of Serbia, headed by Adem Zilkic, refuses to recognise the election.
Previous posts have discussed the conflict between Zukorlic and Zikic who has no ties to Ceric or Bosnia. The dispute has led to instances of violence over the past year. The Balkan report adds that a conflict between two influential Bosniak politicians is at the origins of the dispute between the two rival factions.