Montenegro's Islamic Community head: Muslims are afraid, state must do its job

NEWS 03.09.2020 19:59
Source: N1

The Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro is the true winner of the election and should now calm down the situation as Muslims are looking for ways to flee Montenegro because of the harassment they are exposed to, the head of the Islamic Community in Montenegro, Rifat Fejzic, told N1 on Thursday.

Last weekend’s victory of the opposition in Montenegro was marked by nationalistic outbursts by Serbs in the country who have in some instances celebrated the end of the 30-years-long rule of the pro-western party of Milo Djukanovic with attacks targeting the Muslim minority and mosques.

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“Those images from the 1990s are still fresh in our minds. Bosniaks in Pljevlja are especially sensitive about that period since people were killed there, bombs were thrown on Muslim houses. This was not that long ago,” he said, adding that he still did not expect such a degree of panic and fear among Bosniaks there.

He also commented on statements from the winning parties which distanced themselves from the incidents and advocated for “patrols to protect mosques.”

“We don’t need anyone to protect mosques, we don’t need Serb police and paratroops protecting our mosques. Our institutions must be protected by the state and this is what I am demanding – that the competent state institutions guarantee us security and peace,” he said.

Fejzic said that messages calling for ‘Turks’ to move away, for the “raping of our women” and that “Srebrenica will happen again” have caused a lot of fear among Bosniaks and that some are even afraid to report this to authorities.

“I must say that several people have already asked me to contact foreign embassies to help them move out of Pljevlja and Montenegro,” he said.

“I am calling upon all political subjects to advocate for peace and to ease the tensions. Nobody benefits from tensions, especially not the minorities which are the vulnerable category. I sincerely hope that whoever is in power will continue pursuing the civic concept and the European path,” he said.

Fejzic also thanked the head of Bosnia’s Islamic Community, who condemned the incidents in Montenegro and called upon foreign governments to react to what happened.

He said that the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro plays a large role in what happened and that he hopes its leader, Amfiholije Radovic, will contribute to calming the situation.

“He is the winner of this election, I am openly saying this. This is well-known,” he said.

Fejzic said the inter-religious dialogue in Montenegro is very weak at the moment and argued that “the responsibility of starting the dialogue always lies with the majority.

”State institutions must act because “representatives of minorities don’t have the power to react and are not responsible for the situation,” he stressed.

“We must call upon the international community to get more actively engaged in solving the problem, but it’s sad that we must depend on foreigners because we can’t agree to do it ourselves,” he concluded.