30 Sep 14
Montenegro Muslims Battle Over Toddlers’ Playground
A new kindergarten in Rozaje has reignited a conflict in Montenegro between the country’s Islamic Community and the Muslim leader over the border in Sandzak, Serbia.
The opening of a religious kindergarten in northern Montenegro under the auspices of the Islamic Community in Serbia has reignited a bitter feud between two Islamic organisations in the area – the Islamic Community of Montenegro and its sister organisation in Serbia, led by the Mufti of Sandzak, Muamer Zukorlic.
The new kindergarten in the border town of Rozaje is part of a religious school headquartered in Novi Pazar, in Serbian Sandzak.
The town is the unofficial capital of the Sandzak region, part of which is in Serbia while the other part is in Montenegro.
The Islamic Community of Montenegro said the opening of the kindergarten was an act of “interference in the internal affairs” of Muslims in Montenegro.
It accused Zukorlic’s organisation of dividing the faithful in Montenegro and of trying to put them under the control of his own organization in Novi Pazar.
With a Muslim population of over 90 per cent, Rozaje is the largest town in the Montenegrin part of the Sandzak region.
On Monday, the head of the Islamic community in Montenegro, Reis Rifat Fejzic, urged the authorities to close all religious schools which are based in another country on security grounds.
Accusing Zukorlic of harbouring a fascist mentality, Fejzic said he wanted “to show that for Montenegrin Muslims the Serbian town of Novi Pazar is more important than Montenegrin Rozaje. Our state authorithies should do something about his schools in Montenegro”.
Zukorlic on Tuesday denied wanting to divide Muslims and accused Montenegrin religious leaders of not honouring the holy Koran.
The conflict beween Montenegrin Islamic Community and Sandzak Mufti has deep roots and has lasted for years.
Earlier in September, Fejzic also accused Zukorlic of supporting Wahhabism and religious extremists in Montenegro.
Zukorlic however believes that the Montenegrin Islamic community should not exist as an independent organization – and that Rozaje belongs historically to the Mufti of Sandzak.
On the other hand, the Islamic Community of Montenegro says its jurisdiction matches the boundaries of the state of Montenegro, as stipulated in an agreement with the Montenegrin government.
Serbia’s Minister of Trade and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic, who is from Sandzak, says Muslims in Montenegro should not succumb to Zukorlic’s “pressure and manipulation.”
Ljajic on Tuesday said he feared the opening of new schools and kindergartens was causing divisions among Muslims in Montenegro, and the government there should help Fejzic and act in accordance with its agreement with the country’s own Islamic Community.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)