The Grand Mufti of Bosnia thinks the election of Barack Obama as American president is a gift from God that could help foster greater international tolerance of Muslims. “I believe that Obama is a divine sign to humanity,” Mustafa Ceric told me in an interview in Sarajevo. Americans “think that they have elected him, but I believe that he was elected by God.” “Barack Obama is one of these most noble goods of our time and our civilisation, that is why I think he is a gift of God,” he said. “At the moment we feel a trend to change. Whether this change will be really in practice and life, we need time to see.”…Even with tolerance embraced by Obama, the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are likely still to face stigma, the Grand Mufti said. “We are going to live with Islamaphobia for the rest of our lives, with the same way Jews are living with anti-Semitism from time to time,” he said…. Ceric was quite positive about the last time he’d heard Obama speak, in the inaugural address last week that mentioned the variety of religions that make up the United States.“Barack Obama, he said that the United States is a country of Christians and Muslims, and this is for the first time that we have this kind of a phrase from an American president,” said Ceric, 56, who wore an Ottoman-style white turban and pin-striped robe as we spoke in his office. “He has a reason to be happy for being blessed by God to give hope to many people, not only in the United States but around the world, including my people in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
Considered by some to be a leading “liberal” Islamic leader, Mustafa Ceric is tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood through his membership in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), headed by Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and by his participation in the U.K.-based “Radical Middle Way” consisting of a wide range of associated scholars representing the global Muslim Brotherhood. Several earlier posts have discussed Dr. Ceric’s increasing visibility and importance within the global Muslim Brotherhood, noting that Ceric sees himself as a possible future leader of a “European Islam.” The possibility also exists that Dr. Ceric could be being groomed as a successor to Youssef Qaradawi, in ill health of late. Another previous post discussed Dr. Ceric’s role in diverting Saudi funds donated for war victims to the creation of an investment bank controlled by the Bosnian Islamic Community which he heads. A recent report carried on a Bosnian public television statement features an accusation by Sarajevo Islamic Studies students that Dr. Ceric was intending to occupy a 10 million mark ($6.6 million) residence built by the donations of wealthy Bosnians.