The logic is hard to follow: the economy is tanking, and Muslim factions are at each other’s throats, but Muslim sovereignty is of the utmost urgency. And that’s not all. One cleric claims “Bosniaks (Muslims of Slav origin) are the only people of Europe who do not have their own exclusive state.”
It is a strikingly ignorant statement, but also a very revealing one with respect to his intentions. According to that argument, we should see Europe rent asunder according to every ethnolinguistic or cultural group on the continent. Violent Walloon separatist movements, Cornish liberation armies, and a gaggle of frustrated Frisians.
But no, of course, Muamer Zukorlic just wants a free pass for Muslim interests. An update on this story. “Serbia’s Sandzak languishes amid bitter Muslim divide,” by Pierre Glachant for the Associated Press, January 10:
NOVI PAZAR, Serbia (AFP) – Overwhelmed by cheap Chinese competition and divided by rival Muslim groups, Serbia’s once-thriving Sandzak region is languishing in a deep economic and social malaise that has sparked the first calls for autonomy.
The remote area tucked between Kosovo and Montenegro was once the centre of the Balkans’ black-market textile industry, with factories churning out high-quality replicas of brand-name jeans and shoes to hungry local markets squeezed by sanctions.
But today its main city Novi Pazar is a picture of decline, with many factories standing idle and more than 50 percent of the population estimated at 400,000 to 500,000 unemployed, local officials said.
Teenagers hang around in the city’s main square with little to do. Most are glum about their future prospects, and complain about politicians who promise more than they deliver and “muftis who drive around in BMWs or SUVs”. […]
The economic crisis, however, has fanned internal tensions in the predominantly Muslim Sandzak region — which borders Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 in a move not recognised by Belgrade.
In recent years, a bitter battle has been waged for influence among Sandzak’s Muslim religious community, stoked by two rival muftis. So far incidents have been minor, mainly skirmishes over rival property claims.
On one side of the divide is a group led by Adem Zilkic, which is based in the capital Belgrade and recognised by the Serbian government as the official interlocutor for the country’s Muslims.
But his influence is being undercut by the mufti of Novi Pazar, Muamer Zukorlic, who accuses his rival of kowtowing to Belgrade and who set up a rival organisation in 2007.
Zukorlic recognises the spiritual authority of Mustafa Ceric, the mufti of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which was the center of the former Yugoslavia’s scattered Muslim community before the bloody break-up in the 1990s.
In recent weeks, Zukorlic has called for autonomy for the Sandzak region, saying that the “Bosniaks (Muslims of Slav origin) are the only people of Europe who do not have their own exclusive state.”
He goes from speaking of an “exclusive state” to a tap dance about a “multi-ethnic region” in the next paragraph. In other words, sure, it won’t be all Muslim right away, but you know who will be in charge.
“We are asking that Serbia give us a degree of sovereignty, within the framework of constitutional order,” Zukorlic said, adding that this initiative “does not mean ethnic autonomy, but autonomy for a multi-ethnic region,” with a Serb minority.
This is a “test of mutual confidence between the Serb authorities and the Bosniaks” but “Serb authorities are showing no confidence, not granting us the slightest degree of autonomy,” he complained.
The rift between the two Muslim communities — unusual in a region more used to inter-ethnic conflict — is growing and Zukorlic has even invited the European Union to send a monitoring mission to the area. Brussels has not officially responded to the request.
For residents like Azra, the clash is a major concern.
“Relations between Serbs and Muslims are better then [sic] among the Muslims themselves,” she said….