Agreement Falls Though On Serbian Islamic Community Feud


Serbian media is reporting that contrary to earlier reports of a negotiated settlement, an agreement to unite two feuding Islamic communities in Serbia has likely fallen apart. According to the report:

An agreement to unite the two Islamic communities (ICs) operating in Serbia has reached a dead end, is likely to fall through completely and will definitely not be signed on November 25, as Turkish media said would happen earlier, Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz said Tuesday. There have been two Islamic fractions in Serbia since October 2007, namely, the Islamic Community of Serbia, seated in Belgrade, headed by Reis-ul-Ulema Adem Zilkic and the Islamic Community in Serbia, with its seat in the city of Novi Pazar (southwestern Serbia), administered by Mufti Muamer Zukorlic. The Sarajevo daily recalled the November 13 visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Belgrade, when he discussed the unification agreement with Serbia’s senior officials. The agreement stumbled on three issues, namely, the question of the seat of the new Islamic Community in Serbia, its ties with Sarajevo and the problem of Mufti Muamer Zukorlic, who is demanded to leave the Islamic Community, but also to withdraw from active public life completely. The daily suggested that the first two issues might be resolved somehow but the third one was a rather huge obstacle. Dnevni Avaz said that the demand to have Zukorlic removed was so strong that Belgrade even insisted with Turkey that the mufti should leave the Sandzak region and continue his life in Istanbul.  The daily, which has close ties with Bosnia-Herzegovina Reis-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric and Mufti Muamer Zukorlic, pointed to the difficulty of acting on the idea launched by Davutoglu, as the Turkish foreign minister had said himself that the negotiations would be very complicated.Turkey is still very committed to having the Islamic communities united, but things seem to be going in the wrong direction, the daily said. Accepting the agreement would abolish the Riaset of the Islamic Community of Serbia headed by Reis-ul-Ulema Adem Zilkic. In addition, Zilkic and Zukorlic would have to step down from their current roles and would not be eligible to apply for the highest position in the new Islamic community hierarchy in Serbia.

An earlier post had reported that the Turkish foreign minister and the Grand Mufti of Bosnia had held an October meeting which was supposed to have resolved the long standing dispute.

Another earlier post 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. 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 referenced in that post, Muamer Zukorlic, the leader of the Islamic Community in Serbia (ICS), is supported by Bosnian Grand Mufti Ceric. Zukorlic was recently elected as leader of the ICS and previous posts have discussed the ongoing conflict between Zukorlic and Adem Zilkic who has no ties to Ceric or Bosnia. Ceric was barred from entering 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.

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