Interview 11 Jan 16

Serbia Must Tackle Muslim Alienation to Stop Terror

Islam expert Ivan Ejub Kostic tells BIRN that systematic discrimination against Muslims in Serbia is feeding Islamic extremism.

Sasa Dragojlo
BIRN
Belgrade
Ivan Ejub Kostic.

The year 2015 will be remembered as the year when the threat of Islamic terrorism reached a new peak in the West, with France as the main target.

The massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7 and the attacks of November 13 in Paris, which killed 130 people, caused panic in much of Europe.

The Balkans has not been exempt from this. In July, a pro-ISIS YouTube video caused alarm throughout the region. Called “Put hilafa” - “Way of the Caliphate” - it demanded the creation of an Islamic Caliphate in the Balkans.

In the video, the unknown author called also for the Muslim conquest of Serbia while various countries were shown through a sniper’s sight, covered with the black ISIS flag.

Ivan Ejub Kostic, an expert in Islam from Belgrade and director of the Balkan Centre for the Middle East, told BIRN that the danger of Islamist terrorist attacks in Serbia was small.

“The risk of such a form of terrorism in Serbia is minimal although, of course, I do not exclude it completely,” Kostic said.

He stressed that state institutions are key to the fight against the terrorist threat, dismissing the idea that the official Islamic communities should be held responsible for dealing with the threat.

“State responsibility is crucial. More and more you hear that the main responsibility lies with the Islamic community, but this is not true,” he said.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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