Mufti comments on colleague's presidential bid

Mufti of Belgrade Muhamed JusufspahiŠ says Mufti Muamer ZukorliŠ's decision to take part in the presidential election showed that ours is "a free country".

Source: Blic, Tanjug, VeŔernje novosti
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But JusufspahiŠ at the same time wondered whether it was "normal" for a person who calls for civil disobedience to become a presidential candidate.

Mufti comments on colleague's presidential bid

Mufti of Belgrade Muhamed JusufspahiŠ says the decision of Mufti Muamer ZukorliŠ to participate in the presidential election in Serbia showed that ours was "a free country".

But JusufspahiŠ at the same time wondered whether it was "normal" for a person who calls for civil disobedience to become a presidential candidate.

ZukorliŠ heads one of the two rival Islamic organizations in Serbia - the Islamic Community in Serbia - based in the town of Novi Pazar in the southwest.

"Is it normal for someone who urges civil disobedience to be a presidential candidate? Will we have candidatures from bishops and rabbis next?," JusufspahiŠ stated, but noted that these were "issues of lesser importance that must be answered by the state, rather than by a mufti".

"To me, the essential issue is - who am I supposed to complain to over the abuse of faith and cloth? On the other hand, former Evangelical pastor Joachim Gauck recently became president in Germany, and Germany is not a poorly ordered country," said JusufspahiŠ.

He also noted that Muslims in Serbia share the same problems and joys with all other citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

"We, with the help of God, receive everything that is the civil right of each resident of Serbia, and nobody can take that away from us, expect we, the citizens of Serbia, ourselves," JusufspahiŠ was quoted as saying.

ZukorliŠ will be the first religious leader to ever run in Serbia's presidential elections. Furthermore, nothing of the kind ever happened in any other European country. Belgrade's VeŔernje Novosti newspaper writes in a commentary that this practice is, however, common in Iran, where a religious leader is at the helm of the state.

Although the controversial mufti is as eligible to run as any other citizen, "many see this as a violation of the Islamic Community Constitution", continues the daily, and adds that it also raises issues regarding the principle of separation of religious communities and state.

"It's hard to imagine how the public would react if any of the Orthodox or Catholic bishops decided to add their name to the election ballot," the newspaper concluded.

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