Recently, the Balkans has come to the agenda of the international public opinion again with discussions of ethnic and sectarian separation, and the developments remind us of the painful events in the disintegration of Yugoslavia. In this context, Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents the views of the President of Serbian Islamic Community Meşihat, Mufti Mevlud ef. Dudić.
Interview with President of the Meshihat of the Islamic Community in Serbia Mufti Mevlud ef. Dudić
Mufti Mevlud ef. Dudić, President of the Meshihat of the Islamic Community in Serbia. He graduated from the madrasa in Pristina, the Islamic Theological Faculty in Sarajevo, and received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the IUNP. He was appointed Mufti of Belgrade in October 2013 and he was elected in the elections for the Mufti of the Meshihat of the Islamic Community in Sandzak and Serbia in January 2014.
First of all, I would like to ask you about views on the deterioration of the Islamic unity in Serbia, and the effects of the division on the project of returning the foundation properties to the Bosnian nation and the Muslim community.
I would like to remind that there was not any kind of deterioration, but there was a group of imams who left the Islamic community in 2007 and who tried to overtake it, its institutions and its property with the help of both local and state political, intelligence, criminal and other factors. Thank God that the legitimate Islamic community was preserved, but that group, with the help of police structures, managed to seize 18% of mosques, maqtabs and imams, while Meshihat managed to preserve 82%. Considering that the year before the aforementioned situation, the Law of property restitution to churches and religious communities was passed, and with this acts the regime in Belgrade wanted to disable the restitution of a great number of waqf property that belonged to the Islamic community with the excuse of “not knowing whom they should return it”. This group was used to divide according to the religious line which made it difficult for us to return the property.
Is there a way for the Islamic Union in Serbia, I mean is it possible to turn into a single structure, Does Meşihat have a study on this subject? What can be done to make such a merger possible?
From the very beginning the door for those who left the community was open and, thank God, a certain number returned to their community, and the door will be open to any other who decided to leave. What we expect from them is to return to their community, to return what they have taken away from the community, and our community is ready to show broad-mindedness, generosity and readiness for forgiveness, without revanchism and with the prospect of giving a chance of holding respectable functions. The Islamic community have never negotiated the conditions of returning or reconciliation with those who instructed or participated in the coup activities in 2007, but it has not closed the doors for those who have realised their mistake.
What are the religious and political influence of the sudden death of Muammer Zukorlic in Sanjak?
The sudden death of Muamer Zukorlić is a great temptation for each and every one of us, and it is a great loss for this nation, this region and the Ummah as it was left without one of its leaders, mudžtehids and mudžedids. He was the pride of the community, of Sandžak, Bosnians and the whole Ummah.
For a Muslim, death is reunion and certainly the main thing is destiny, but there is a question which cannot get out of my mind: Is there a questionable aspect in the death of Muhammet ef Zukorlic? Thus, he was a name who gifted his existence to the Bosnian existence.
He was surely the most imposing personality in the Bosnian corpus. I want to say that he was the great of this time, unparalleled in the Balkans or Europe. Great people make great things and those people are under great surveillance and attacks. I want to believe that his death his destiny and a decree from God, even though, as people, we should ask ourselves if there was any sort of conspiracy, as some analysts state. His death will remain a secret and a destiny that his days were counted.
May I learn your views on the effects of the split in the Islamic Union on Preşova?
By the same principle it was done in Sandžak, it was done in Preševo. So, our community has its jamaats and imams in the Preševo valley which are the constituents of Meshihat, but a small group accepted the policy of making the Serbian “Islamic community”. It is truly strange that some people from Diyanet structures participated in deterioration of the Islamic community so they continue to finance those who left their community, and they continue to send their imams into illegal jamaats which results in even bigger divisions.
Can you describe the relations between the Montenegrin Riyaset and Meşihat for us?
There is a Meshihat in Montenegro with which we do not have any relations. Although there is a legitimate Islamic community with legally elected organs, we consider that Muftiship of Sandžak should encompass both Serbian and Montenegrin part of Sandžak. Reducing the Islamic community within the borders of Serbia and Montenegro is injustice. For us Bosniaks, Sandžak is homeland – Bosnia and Sandžak.
I also wonder your views on the relations between Serbia and the Republica Sırpska. Can we say that Serbia is supporting Republica Sırpska?
Even though Serbia supports the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Hercegovina, it is trying to help their people in the smaller Bosnian entity in every way. I am afraid that that could lead to additional conflicts and wars, which would be devastating. Serbia does not renounce its people wherever they live, and Bosnian is left to its devices. I believe that there will be enough wisdom not to go into new adventures and wars. What we have on scene today is more than clear that Serbia supports Republika Srpska. I believe that the international community will not allow additional murdering of Muslim people.
Do you have any suggestions about the measures that can be taken against Republica Serbska that is threaten Bosniaks?
The international community must find strength and not allow the splitting of that part of the territory. The European Union and the United States are the key factors, but Turkey as well as it always emphasises that it will protect Bosnia.
What is the measure that Serbia has developed against the possible reactions of the Bosniaks in its country and what are the strategies it can implement to suppress the issue?
I want to believe that Serbia, as a guarantor of the Dayton agreement will not support the secession and will not side with one part of the people against Bosnia and Hercegovina. All eyes are on Turkey because it is well-known that the relations between Serbia and Turkey have never been better. Turkey have invested more in Serbia than in Bosnia or Sandžak.
What will be the political line of the Justice and Reconciliation Party after Zukorlic’s death?
I believe that Justice and Reconciliation Party will continue the way which was marked by Muamer Zukorlić. I would not like to talk about their political plans, but I believe they will continue where he stopped.
What do you think the rahmetli Zukorlic’s son Usame Zukorlic’s presence in the SPP be permanent?
His son was elected to the position of the president as he indebted us, and Usame is educated and talented, so the organs of the party will decide on their following actions.
Will the SPP cooperate with other Bosniak parties in defending the political rights and freedoms of Bosniaks? Can you see such a political alliance and perspective
I do consider that cooperation among all Bosniak parties is of great importance for achieving our rights and interests in the Republic of Serbia.
 Mufti Mevlud ef. Dudić, President of the Meshihat of the Islamic Community in Serbia. He graduated from the madrasa in Pristina, the Islamic Theological Faculty in Sarajevo, and received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the IUNP. He was appointed Mufti of Belgrade in October 2013 and he was elected in the elections for the Mufti of the Meshihat of the Islamic Community in Sandzak and Serbia in January 2014.