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News 17 Jul 17

Bosnia Urged To Protect Clerics From ISIS Threats

Bosnian presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic has called on Bosnian institutions to protect the country's Muslim clerics - after ISIS recently issued bloodcurdling new threats to them.

BIRN Team
BIRN
Belgrade
Unidentified militiaman on guard in a Syrian town. Photo: ISIS propaganda material

The Bosniak member of Bosnia's presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, has called on the country's institutions to protect imams [Muslim clerics] after so-called Islamic State recently its supporters to kill Bosnian Muslim religious leaders by shooting them or cutting their throats. 

Izetbegovic said the recent grisly threats came from "renegades" from Bosnia, fighting in Syria, who were targeting Bosnia's Islamic Community because it had not succumbed to what he called a "misinterpretation of Islam", media reports said.

"The moderate, open and genuine interpretation of traditional Islam in this region is the best obstacle to all attempts to abuse and radicalize Muslims," Izetbegovic said at the press conference in Sarajevo.

The Islamist terrorist organization - which has suffered major setbacks recently in Iraq and Syria - called on its supporters in the Balkans to kill local Muslim leaders by slicing their throats and shooting them with silenced guns.

"Slash the heads of those [apostates], especially their Mufti. We swear by Allah, there is nothing Allah values more than killing those who twisted His faith, those who want Islam to be destroyed from within," ISIS, has said in the Balkan edition of its magazine, Rumiyah.

"Attack them, kill them using silencers, that is indeed a glorious act ... kill them in front of their children and wives. Spill their dirty blood, let it run down the streets of the Balkans," the magazine reads.

Along with the text, ISIS published photographs of Bosnia's senior Muslim cleric, Reisu-l-ulema Husein ef. Kavazovic, his deputy, Husein ef. Smajic, and the Muftis of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ISIS labelled the clerics "leaders of non-Islamic communities" and said that killing "apostates" is even "more important" than killing infidels.

The threats come a month after ISIS promised to wage a terror campaign in the Balkans.

The Bosnian version of the ISIS magazine has since last September been justifying the attacks carried out by the terror group throughout the world.

The magazine is issued in several languages, including Arabic, English, Turkish, German and French, by ISIS’s media arm Al-Hayat. Its name means "Rome" and is thought to allude to the fall of the Roman Empire.

Goran Kovacevic, a professor at the Faculty of Criminology and Security Studies at the University of Sarajevo, told BIRN last November that the magazine’s aim is to appeal to poor and unemployed Bosnian Muslims.

According to official data, Bosnia is one of the main regional exporters of jihadists to the Middle East.

The official Islamic Community in Bosnia is now trying to combat what it sees as an abuse of religious thinking.

Muhamed Jusic, the Islamic Community’s media adviser and a noted theologian, told BIRN that the Community is trying to promote traditional Islamic values in Bosnia, both in mosques and educational facilities, as the best possible response to radicalism.

“All research points to the fact that the traditional form of Islam, which has existed in this region for hundreds of years, is the best preventative programme for the abuse of religion. That is why this traditional Islamic Community is the first in line for attacks by violent extremists,” Jusic said.

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