Bosnia: Muslim spiritual leader urges more Sharia law
Sarajevo, 17 August (AKI) – Bosnia’s Muslim spiritual leader, Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric, has drawn strong criticism from moderate Muslims and from Bosnian Serbs, after he called for Islamic Sharia law to be incorporated into the Bosnian constitution.
Ceric made the controversial suggestion when he conducted Bosnia’s first Sharia mass wedding on Saturday in the central city of Zenica. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi reportedly paid for the weddings for the 20 couples and some 500 guests.
“In this exceptional place, in the exceptional city of Zenica, we are witnessing a magnificent event,” Ceric said. “I hope this is only the beginning and that we will have many such occasions in the years to come,” he added.
Ceric is no stranger to controversy, and his pronouncements often trigger a heated reaction.
In May, while visiting a Muslim community in Serbia’s Muslim-majority Sandzak region bordering Montenegro, Ceric said “no force could separate” Muslims in Serbia from those in Bosnia, which he has described as a homeland for Muslims.
Strict Sharia law drastically reduces the rights of women, allows polygamy for men, forbids marrying non-Muslims and sanctions cruel penalties including stoning.
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik reacted angrily to Ceric’s remarks, saying he was deliberately ignoring the presence of Serbs and Croats in Muslim-majority Bosnia.
Serbs are mainly Orthdox while Croats are Catholic Christians.
Ceric’s pronouncement concealed a Muslim drive to dominate the whole country, Dodik claimed.
Ceric’s statements drew sharp criticism from moderate Muslims.
One commentator on the daily 24 hours website wrote: “Nothing else could be expected from Ceric.”
He is known for glorifying the Ottoman invaders who ruled the Balkans for six centuries, converting local population to Islam.
During 50 years of Communist rule, Bosnian Muslims practised a moderate form of Islam, or declared themselves atheists.
But radical forms of Islam began to take root in the country after thousands of fighters from Muslim countries, especially North Africa, arrived to fight on the side of local Muslims in the 1992-1995 civil war.