Interview | ADELHEID WÖLFL
The mufti in Sandzak, Muamer Zukorlic, it takes problemeatisch when secularism is applied to Islam
STANDARD: You are Grand Mufti of the Islamic Community in Serbia. What you want to achieve by the National Council of Bosniaks in the next four years?
Zukorlic: According to the law, there are four areas that are culture, information, language and education, which can make the National Council. There is progress, when it comes to education. And over these four areas we can solve 80 percent of the problems. It’s not so much about what is in the law, the National Assembly is the only organ of the Bosniaks, which has the right to represent the Bosniaks.
STANDARD: And what about the other 20 percent?
Zukorlic: The question of Sandzak in the Serbian Constitution is an open question. Although the National Council is not authorized to the National Council will ensure that these issues are resolved. It’s about two issues. It is unacceptable that the Bosniaks apply by Constitution as a minority, we are an indigenous nationality. The referendum on the current constitution was fabricated (by rigged elections, a majority was artificially created, mainly by manipulation in Sandžak, which was the result of the coalition between the former Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and Sulejman Ugljanin of the SDA, n.). This deal between Ugljanin and Vojislav Koštunica was of Ugljanin (in retrospect, anm.) Found to be false.
STANDARD: So you want more autonomy for the Sandzak?
Zukorlic: The Sandžak has a negative impact on the stability for all. So it must be said that this region has special needs. The Sandžak must have a certain autonomy. We have never submitted a program, such as to look, because we want this issue to be resolved through dialogue.
STANDARD: Some Bosniaks say that Serbia is not their motherland. What is the motherland of the Bosniacs in Serbia?
Zukorlic: We see Bosnia and Herzegovina emotionally as motherland. But it is to the emotional motherland and the actual motherland. And we are willing to Serbia to see the motherland, but only if Serbia recognizes us as equal citizens of Serbia. This goes not only from one side. The majority here accept Serbia as their home. The home is where you have security and where you have the same options. But we were not accepted as equals here.
STANDARD: Some Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina see Serbia as their motherland and some Croats Croatia. This weakens the connection between these citizens and their state, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Is not it dangerous if a nationality sees a country other than their home country?
Zukorlic: We do not believe that the mother country and the state to which one belongs, are mutually exclusive. We are Bosniaks, and it is clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina remains our cultural and ethnic homeland. You can not compare with the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina that. Because the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina include Bosnia and Herzegovina as their homeland, and we do so with Serbia. But we have many reasons for this, if you look at what happened in the past 100 years, to have no confidence in Serbia. So Serbia should show that it is ready.
STANDARD: Some people from the Sandžak, among others in Vienna, recruit young Muslims for the terrorist group IS in Syria and Iraq. How do you prevent these young people go there?
Zukorlic: I do not know what we can do in Vienna, but I know what we can do here. We can do many things. We are ready to take full responsibility to take care of the entire education of young Muslims here in Sandžak in Serbia, but not under these conditions, where the Islamic community is attacked and is not protected by the state. Different groups make educational tasks – semi-legal or illegal -, but we are not responsible because they do not act within the Islamic Community.
STANDARD: But you are a man of influence here. How do you prevent that these young Muslims are being recruited for the war in Syria and Iraq?
Zukorlic: Of course we can, and we do that if we did that, if the number of people who go to war, much bigger.. If the government would give the unity within the Islamic community, we would assume full responsibility for any deviant behavior within the Islamic Community. We expect that the Government accepts the Constitution. As Artimje wanted to start a new church, the state has not allowed him. As Adem Zilkić but wanted to start a new Islamic community, the state has helped him. First, you have destroyed the Islamic Religious Community, and it is expected that it prevents young Muslims from going to war. We have no power to make the young people, as we should.
STANDARD: In Europe it is not common that a religious leader such as you is a politician at the same time. Where do you think the separation between state and church run?
Zukorlic: Where Europe is wrong when it comes to Islam, is when it tries to understand Islam from the logic of Christianity. This makes a great wall of misunderstanding. Islam is a political religion, and you can not change him why. According to the teaching of Islam is a spiritual, social and political religion, and it is very important that you know that.
STANDARD: But Serbia is a secular state.
Zukorlic: I did not say anything against the secular Serbia. I respect the secular law in Serbia. This right implies that each voter has one vote and stand for election. It is not a constitutional and political problem for me. Some interfere with it but that I meet political statements.
STANDARD: But when you say that Islam is a political religion, then secularism as it applies in Europe, be applied to Islam?
Zukorlic: There is a difference of how Muslims behave in an Islamic environment and in a secular environment. And you are sure that the state and religion in Europe are really separated so? In Europe, the Churches are financed through public institutions. I’m talking about principles. One can not demand from Islam something that is neither required by the other. Carlos Belo is a priest and involved in politics in East Timor. But if he was a Mufti, he would never get a Nobel Peace Prize. The Muslims are discriminated against in the world so. Only because of this hypocrisy, there is hostility of Muslims towards the West.
STANDARD: So it is now possible to apply the secularism against Islam, or not?
Zukorlic: Yes, that is possible, but only with Muslims. Secularism as an ideology was created in response to the church. Therefore, it is very problematic if we apply the Islam. Secularism is not even an answer to Christianity, but to the Church, an answer to a curious behavior in which it was to hold the Kings under control. There is a saying: Give to God what is God’s, and the king what is the king. In this regard, can not be applied to Islam. But Islam can coexist with secularism (cohabit), he can negotiate with secularism.
STANDARD: On September 4, there was a march of the “Army of the Mufti”, marched with the men in green uniforms on your behalf by Novi Pazar.
Zukorlic: The Green Army. But what was it militarily?
STANDARD: The uniforms.
Zukorlic: But what about the military in a uniform? There might also be a uniform of the baker or the hunter.
STANDARD: So were these uniformed hunters?
Zukorlic: That was a performance. In this performance there was nothing Militant. If you have looked at the shoes, then were the very fashionable shoes, and the belt was very fashionable. It was a provocation to which the State should be made aware. 70 years ago, a crime has taken place, in which 2,400 people were killed. And why we need Muslims ever justify everything? I support the people who are marching here. That was a kind of Boy Scout uniform. Why that is associated with the war? In a normal society, there would be no problem with such a thing, but there is prejudice. Everything that is not forbidden is allowed.
STANDARD: But if these people marching, triggers the fears.
Zukorlic: Have you ever heard of the Chetniks who in Ravna Gora every year posing with the machine guns?
STANDARD: But why would you do something bad just because someone else does something bad?
Zukorlic: It is not comparable with the Chetniks, because of my group went from no violence. If I were to form an army, then I would not do that on the road, but in the forest. It was a cultural, not a military provocation.
STANDARD: Maybe it was because of the choices that you’ve made it?
Zukorlic: No, it was planned before the elections. You must try to understand the Bosniaks. One can not forbid them to play. Why should I have no right to wear a cap on my head? It still looks like a pacifist ecological Army. I was a month ago at a conference in Vienna. And I’ve had enough of hearing of Islamic terrorism. We are not terrorists.
STANDARD: I have not spoken of terrorism.
Zukorlic: We always have to do it only with prejudice against Muslims.
STANDARD: This is not so.
Zukorlic: The West trained us. And the people in Belgrade have accepted that and the people in Podgorica. But I will never accept. I’m not like the others, I am drunk with freedom. I would give my life, but never freedom. When it comes to freedom of expression, then this should be applied to all. But if one does not accept the LGBT people, then you are “out”. This is a dogma. The secularists behave like inquisitors. This is a secular Inquisition. But the only thing that I will never accept is a homosexual. That’s the end of the world for me. Against those who do not support the LGBT community, a Lynch atmosphere is created. Europe is so. And Serbia is now too. And that’s why all of them have a problem with my sophistication and rhetoric, and I’ll stigmatized. The election results four years ago were only therefore not recognized, because I have won the elections.
STANDARD: And what does this have to do with gays?
Zukorlic: Nothing, it’s all about examples that I’m stigmatized.
STANDARD: Shall be equally you think are the women?
Zukorlic: Yes. The Communists have equality so understood that they should also work in the mine.
STANDARD: So you think the women should only work at home?
Zukorlic: No, I have a university where girls get ten percent discount for the study. My wife is a professor at the University, and apart from the fact it has a private business.
STANDARD: Is it true that you have two wives?
Zukorlic: What do you think?
STANDARD: Let me ask you.
Zukorlic: I never talk about private matters. (Adelheid Wölfl, the standard long version, 11/13/2014)