Bishop Dr Irinej of Backa: Response to accusations of Mufti Zukorlic

These days, all local media reported the fierce accusations of Mr. Muamer Zukorlic, Mufti of the Islamic Community in Serbia, addressed on behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch, the state of Serbia and, ultimately, me personally.

What an ordinary Muslim, uninformed of the relations between the Churches and religious communities in the country, can conclude from Zukorlic's fervent statements that the Serbian Orthodox Church is some sort of a chauvinistic and extremist organization that only looks how to harm Muslims, and that I am some tyrant who lead a violence against Islamic religious education and other activities of Muslims in Serbia.

Primarily because of the truth as such, and then for every common man, a Muslim who lives in Serbia, I will try to point out that claims of Mr. Zukorlic are not only untrue, but represent intentionally, or to be more precise maliciously devised lies, what he himself and his closest associates, knows very well.

Generally, my opinion is that people of other faiths and other nationalities who live in our Homeland are children of the God as we are the Orthodox, and thus our brothers and sisters, which the existing differences or anyone's identity do not call into question. Moreover, as an Orthodox bishop (and I believe as any other Orthodox believers in Serbia), I have a special responsibility towards needs and rights of believers of other Churches and religious communities in Serbia, and also Muslims, and not just because I belong to the biggest Church in this country but, above all, because I am Christian. As a bishop, in the Diocese of Backa in this way I teach my priests and believers, and as a professor of the Faculty of the Orthodox Theology my students. I am convinced that is only possible position of not just of each Christian but every true believer.

Otherwise, for many years, by obedience, I represent my Church in various formal and informal bodies, which have the task that the Serbian Orthodox Church and other traditional churches and religious communities in Serbia achieve or establish all those natural rights that belong to them (religious education in public schools, the return of confiscated property, representation in the media ...). In fact, neither I nor any other responsible representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church have never for believers of the Orthodox Church demanded some greater right than those rights that belong to Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews or Muslims. Simply, in all attempts before state agencies and social factors the Serbian Orthodox Church has played together and jointly with representatives of other Churches and religious communities and what asked for itself, it asked at the same time and for others. It is very well known to Mr. Zukorlc and his associates from the Islamic Community in Serbia. It would be a real happiness that such a practice is present, for example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In particular, concerning the return of confiscated property, I responsibly claim that in the Diocese of Backa, of which I am head, - and Zukorlic accuses me that I'm some kind of a "lever of power" - is not returned even half of the illegally seized property either. It is certain that the traditional Churches and the religious communities continue joint work that the historic injustice of the early communist period to be corrected.

As a burning issue, the Mufti of the Islamic Community in Serbia, the advance section of the Riyaset of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Zukorlic, emphasizes the problem of the religious education. Based on the way how he intends to resolve the issue (such as violence in elementary school Selekovac), I am convinced that it is in Novi Pazar now clear to everyone that the mufti's intention is to discredit the religious education, not to affirm.

But the problem of representation of the traditional Churches and religious communities in the electronic media, I explained in great detail, in a personal letter to Mr. Mevlud Dudic, on July 26, 2006. Mr. Dudic like, indeed,  Mr. Plojovic - can, if he cares about the truth, to bear witness that the Islamic community in Serbia according to its will withdrew from the joint media projects of the traditional Churches and religious communities, as well as from the Commission for Religious Education. About reasons that led them, then, in 2006, we just presume. Now, these reasons are clear to all.

By all odds, to Mr. Zukorlić, unfortunately, care neither about religious education, nor about showing religious teachings in media, nor about any religious rights of Muslims in Serbia. The stoning of buses, burning flags of Serbia, violence against the school principal and many other actions indicate that his intentions are quite different.

But about that someome else should take care...

Source: Diocese of Backa