The Eurasian Review has published an OpEd titled “A Bosnian Plea: ‘Italians, Don’t Give Peace Prize To Ceric’ on the decision by an Italian foundation to award Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceri? its peace prize for his contribution to reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The piece begins:
His name is Mustafa Ceri?. He is the highest Muslim religious authority in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A prominent Italian institution, the Ducci Foundation, has decided to honour him for his “contribution to peace and reconciliation” by granting him its peace prize next March, at Rome’s Campidoglio. But there is a setback – according to some Bosnian human rights activists, Ceri? is nothing less that a fundamentalist, hidden under a fake image of tolerance. This was repeated for Il Piccolo by Refik Hodži?, an influential activist for human rights and a leading documentary film-maker. Ceri? “has been and is playing an increasingly important political role among Bosniaks, that often surpasses that of any politician”, explains Hodži?. “He is perfectly aware of that power and uses it often to present himself as a counterpart to the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, in the continuation of wartime-like discourse of division and mistrust between Serbs and Bosniaks. Ceri? uses populist rhetoric identical to Dodik’s, portraying Bosniaks as constantly under threat of repression and physical elimination, drawing on the suffering they endured during the nineties, and the Islamic Community and himself as their sole defenders”, illustrates the activist. The actor, Fedja Stukan – one of the performers in Angelina Jolie’s latest movie, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” – is also fighting against the decision of the Ducci Foundation. Stukan, a Bosniak like Hodži?, is promoting an online petition to ask for the award to be revoked. Why? “Ceri? has two opposite faces. One is his foreign policy, where he is a peace-preaching, and a peace-prize-winning Muslim leader. But in his own country, he is promoting everything but peace. He invites Muslims to hate the “godless”, and threatens them, very directly and publicly, with violence. These speeches increase the tension, which has now reached the top, minimising any possibility for reconciliation”, he says. According to Stukan, several NGOs were threatened by Ceri?, “such as the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and the CNA (Center for Non-Violent Action), that put a real effort into reconciling war veterans from all three sides. These NGOs were publicly marked as ‘Islamophobic’”, continues Stukan. In this way, Ceri? “gives an open hand to his followers to attack, and that is exactly what happened a few years ago, when there was an attempt to organize a Gay pride parade in Sarajevo. All guest and organizers were brutally beaten”.
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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 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 (see source 1 below). Dr. Ceric has compared the Iranian Revolution with the French Revolution.
(Source 1: “Sarajevo Islamic Studies students slam Bosnian Islamic Community head” Excerpt from report by Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation public TV 60 Minutes current affairs programme, on 24 November, Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation TV, Sarajevo, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 1900 gmt 24 Nov 08 Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring November 28, 2008 Friday)