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Serbia's tough-talking Islamic cleric and the Montenegrin Prime Minister have become locked in a verbal dual over the position of Muslims and the status of the Sandzak region.
Muamer Zukorlic, Mufti of the Islamic Community in Serbia, has become locked in a war of words with the Prime Minister of neighbouring Montenegro.
The row started when the combative cleric, well known for his colourful pronouncements, said in an interview on January 25 that Milo Djukanovic had betrayed a promise he had made several years earlier to to his country's Bosniak [Muslim] minority.
In the interview, Zukorlic recalled that in 2006 Djukanovic had signed an agreement with Rafet Husovic, leader of the Bosniak Party in Montenegro, which pledged to define the Sandzak as a cross-border region.
The Sandzak is an historical term for a mainly Bosniak area that straddles northern Montenegro and southwest Serbia.
Zukorlic said that in return, Bosniaks promised to support Djukanovic's political project, the restoration of Montenegrin independence, but, after regaining independence in 2006, the promise was forgotten.
The Mufti also said that Montenegro's current authorities were dividing the Bosniak community by allowing its members to decribe themselves in censuses either as Bosniaks or as Muslims.
In the 2011 census, 8 per cent defined themselves as Bosniaks and another 3 per cent as Muslims.
In support of Zukorlic's claims, the Islamic Community in Serbia published the alleged agreement on its website.
Djukanovic's office strongly rejected the allegations on January 27 noting "the participation of Bosniak Party... in the highest echelons of power in Montenegro and its partnership in building a multiconfessional and multicultural, civic Montenegro".
But Djukanovic later went further, describing Zukorlic as “a political charlatan", which has further angered the Islamic Community in Serbia.
On Thursday, they said that, "by insulting Muamer Zukorlic... Djukanovic reveals what he really thinks about Bosniaks".
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