Serbian Imam Supported By Bosnian Grand Mufti Back In Spotlight


An Italian news agency has reported on the request by the Bosniac National Council (BNC) in Serbia for the European Union to send international observers to the Muslim-majority Sandzak region. According to the report:

Sept. 06–BELGRADE, Serbia — The Bosniac National Council (BNC) in Serbia on Monday called on the European Union to send international observers to the Muslim-majority Sandzak region in a bid to defuse recent tensions there. The Muslim body said in a statement it had sent a letter to the European Union’s high representative for security and foreign policy Catherine Ashton, highlighting “increased discrimination and rights violations towards Muslims on religious and ethnic grounds.” About 1,000 Muslims clashed on Saturday with police in Novi Pazar, Sandzak’s largest city and seat of the region’s government. Three policemen were injured in the incident which centred on property rights. “To get the real picture of the situation in Sandzak, the Bosniac National Council demands the European Union to send international observers to Sandzak, which would significantly relax tensions and create preconditions for the beginning of a dialogue,” the council said. The Muslim community in Serbia is split between religious leaders who pledge their allegiance to Belgrade and those such as Sandzak mufti Moamer Zukorlic, who recognise the leadership of Bosnian cleric Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric. Zukorlic currently heads the council, but Belgrade authorities claim he was elected illegally. He has been accused by Belgrade’s press of “playing with fire” and of trying to internationalise the Sandzak issue, copying majority Kosovo Albanians who declared independence from Serbia two years ago. Apart from the existing two Muslim parties in Serbia, Zukorlic recently announced the formation of a new party, to be led by his brother-in-law. The move was condemned by Belgrade authorities and by moderate Muslims.

Serbian officials and analysts have generally blamed Bosnian Grand and European Muslim Brotherhood leader Mufti Mustafa Ceric for the troubles. As noted in the report, Muamer Zukorlic, the leader of the Islamic Community in Serbia (ICS), is supported by Ceric. Zukorlic was recently elected as leader of the ICS and previous posts have discussed the ongoing conflict between Zukorlic and another Serbian Islamic leader who has no ties to Ceric or Bosnia. Ceric was barred from entereing Serbia last year over his claim that Muslim rights are being violated in Serbia.

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. Dr. Ceric recently compared the Iranian Revolution with the French Revolution.

( Source: Adnkronos International, Rome “Serbia: Muslims urge EU observers in Sandzak” September 6, 2010 Monday

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