Anybody want to guess where this is going, even in modern, moderate, secular Bosnia, where everyone knows there is no jihad or Islamic supremacism?
“It is yet another step in an obvious attempt to Islamicize the city.”
“Islam classes cause uproar,” by Amra Hadziosmanovic for Agence France-Presse, February 10 (thanks to Morgaan Sinclair):
SARAJEVO — The tiny students, some in their first year at a Sarajevo kindergarten, are led away from their classmates by a woman peering out from a headscarf who will give them a lesson on the basics of Islam.
“Kids have been asking me why they are being separated and what a religious class is,” said a teacher, who asked not to be named. “It was so difficult at the beginning.”
The “bula” — an intermediary between an imam and the family — grabs their attention with animal pictures on a laptop. She then goes on to explain how the Prophet Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina.
The lesson seems innocent enough for 3- to 6-year-olds. But the decision by the Muslim-led county council to allow religious instruction in Sarajevo kindergartens has met a chorus of outrage from critics who fear it is part of an attempt to “Islamicize” Bosnia’s capital.…
“All of this will just deepen divisions among people here, and that is wrong,” said Helena Mandic, a non-Muslim mother who leads a group of parents challenging the decision.
Muslims account for around 40 percent of Bosnia’s 3.8 million inhabitants. Some 31 percent are Christian Orthodox Serbs and about 10 percent Roman Catholic Croats.
Religious instruction in state schools is optional, and has been offered in primary and high schools throughout the country for the three main confessions since the end of the war.
It was offered for the city”s 2,000 youngest students after a survey found that one-third of the parents were also ready to enroll the kindergarteners in such classes.
The county education ministry defends the initiative, saying it is in line with a religious freedom act in force since 2004.
“We would have been violating that law if we did not organize religious teaching,” said Srecko Zmukic, an official with the ministry.
Each faith has been invited to prepare a curriculum, but so far only Islamic classes have been organized in Sarajevo, where the weekly 30-minute lessons are funded by the city”s Muslim government.
The Catholic Church is expected to prepare its program soon but its Orthodox counterpart as yet has shown no interest, Zmukic said….
At the end of the year, the head of the Sarajevo public kindergarten network, Arzija Mahmutovic, banned New Year’s celebrations and “Grandfather Frost,” a secular version of Santa Claus, ending a cherished, decades-long tradition.
The decision triggered public protests, pressuring Mahmutovic into allowing parents to organize New Year’s celebrations in kindergartens by themselves only two days before the holiday.
Nedim Dervisbegovic, a journalist and Muslim father of three, said the developments were worrying for the future of Sarajevo, a multiethnic city though overwhelmingly Muslim.
“It is yet another step in an obvious attempt to Islamicize the city,” he charged, adding, “I wonder what will be the next.”
So do I.