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news 13 Jan 14

Bosniaks Demand Islamic Symbols on Montenegro’s Flag

Ethnic Bosniak parties in Montenegro have called on the government to add “elements of Islam” to the national flag because Muslims have lived in the country for centuries.

Dusica Tomovic

Montenegrin deputy prime minister Suljo Mustafic, who is also the leader of the country’s Bosniak Party, called for changes in the law that would allow Muslims to see their identity reflected in the country’s flag.

“Adherents of Islam are indigenous inhabitants here, they have been for centuries, and they built Montenegro. They are part of Montenegrin social reality and are seeking to express it through the symbols of our country,” Mustafic said in an interview for the state broadcaster RTCG.

He noted that this did not mean that “Bosniaks are bothered by Christian symbols on the state flag”.

The opposition Bosniak Democratic Union said it supported the idea of introducing Islamic symbols but called for a complete overhaul rather than a redesign.

“Any correction of existing state symbols is not acceptable, we require a complete change  in symbols that will not  offend religious and national feelings of any nation in Montenegro,” the party’s secretary, Samir Hodzic, said in a statement on Saturday.

The Montenegrin flag is red with a gold border and the state coat of arms, which features a two-headed eagle, a crown and a lion, in the middle.

According to the last census from 2011, Bosniaks make up 8.5 per cent of the population, while 3.5 per cent declared themselves to be Muslims.

The Montenegrin government has so far remained silent about the Bosniak parties’ demands.

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