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· University of Azhar, Cairo (Faculty of Arabic Language and Literature) Graduation, 1978

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Ceric: Serbia Needs a Stable Sandzak

Belgrade | 19 May 2009 | 
Reis Mustafa Ceric

The Grand Mufti of the Bosnian Islamic Community, Mustafa Ceric, Monday night criticised the decision of the Serbian police to ban a meeting that was supposed to welcome him, and told media that "Serbia cannot become stable without a stable Sandzak".

“We are one, there is no force that can divide us. Until now, I hadn’t thought that Muslims’ rights were being breached in Serbia, but I’ve seen today in Tutin that that isn’t quite the case,” Ceric said to many worshipers gathered in the courtyard of the central mosque of Tutin Monday night.

Serbian police banned a meeting Tutin to welcome Ceric, over concerns about potential violence, in the wake of growing tensions between two religious Muslim factions.

“When I travel round the world, people ask me how things are in the Balkans, I say it’s good. But they ask—’but how’s it in Sandžak?’ OK, I think, the mufti’s complaining, but maybe he’s overdoing it. But from today, I’ll no longer say ’overdoing it’, rather I’ll say that I saw with my own eyes that human rights are being violated in Serbia, particularly those of Muslims,“ he said during his visit to Sandžak, south eastern Serbia.

Ceric is on a three-day visit to the region, visiting educational institutions and establishments that belong to the Islamic Community in Serbia. Ceric will also meet with chief imams and religious teachers.

He will also meet with university staff in Novi Pazar, where he will give a lecture to professors and students.

A larger Serbian police presence will monitor today’s gathering in Novi Pazar. After his visit to Novi Pazar, Ceric will go to visit worshipers in Novi Varoš, Prijepolje and Priboj which all have considerable Muslim populations.

November 13, 2006

Bosnia: Muslims Upset By Wahhabi Leaders

The problem of Wahhabism, the Salafist doctrine which originated in Saudi Arabia, which makes few compromises with anything other than its own doctrines, has led to conflict with the Muslims of Bosnia. Wahhabism was an alien ideology to the Muslims of former Yugoslavia, though in the Bosnian war of 1992 - 1995, it became imported by radical Muslims. These had been invited to the region by then-president Alija Izetbegovic. Muslim fighters had flocked from various Muslim countries, including Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Izetbegovic was president of Bosnia-Hercegovina from 1990 onwards. When the civil war began in 1992, he invited Mujahideen fighters to the region, incorporating them into the Bosnian amy. They formed the majority of the 7th Muslim Brigade when it was founded on November 19, 1992, and in August 13, 1993 foreign Mujahideen formed the "El Mujahed" Unit.

Izetbegovic was portrayed by the Clinton administration as a moderate, though it was recently revealed that he was in the pay of a Saudi Al Qaeda operative, Yassin al-Khadi (Yassin al Qadi). Izetbegovic was also in direct communication with Osama bin Laden, according to British journalist Eve-Ann Prentice.

When the Dayton agreement officially ended the civil conflict in 1995, the Mujahideen remained. They have caused conflict with Muslims in Bosnia, and also in neighboring Serbia, as they deem the "liberalism" of the Muslims who lived in Tito's Yugoslavia to be heretical.

Today, states AKI, an unofficial leader of the Bosnian Wahhabis, Imad al-Husin, has resigned. Husin, a Syrian who also goes under the name "Abu Hamza", has said that he is unable to "express himself in the Bosnian language in order to be understood correctly".

Recently, al-Husin's comments, which were made on local television, drew sharp reactions from local Muslims. He said their leaders followed a "communist Islam" which had been introduced by General Tito.

On Friday, November 10, leaders of Bosnia's Muslims read out out a resolution in all of the nation's mosques, according to the newspaper Nezavisne Novine. This resolution "condemns and finds undesirable in Bosnia those who bring unrest into mosques under the excuse of implementing the 'real' faith."

The resolution was drafted by the official Islamic Community. The head of this group, Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric, said: "One who cannot accept and understand it, does not have to stay, and does not have to come." The acceptance refers to Bosnian moderate Islam.

40% of the population of the country is Muslim. Orthodox Christian Serbs comprise 31% and Catholic Croats comprise 10% of the population of 3.8 million. The horrors of the civil war still lie beneath the surface. At the weekend, it was announced that another mass grave, containing 100 bodies of Muslims murdered in the Srebrenica massacre, was uncovered in Snagovo village, about 31 miles north of Srebrenica. About 8,000 Muslims were killed in this atrocity, which took place in July 1995, when Serbs led by Ratko Mladic and Radnan Karadic overran the UN enclave of Srebrenica on July 11.

Many of the Wahhabis settled in Bosnia after the civil war, marrying local women, but also a sizeable number were granted citizenship by Izetbegovic in exchange for their fighting in the Bosnian civil war. In September, 50 of these individuals had their citizenship status revoked. SInce then 100 more individuals have been prevented from claiming citizenship rights. 250 more were under investigation, while the body which is charged to reconsider the citizenship status of these former Mujahideen states that 1,500 cases will eventually be examined.

Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric of Bosnia's Islamic Community has condemned the stripping of 150 people's citizenship, saying that "the state doesn't have the right to discriminate based on religion, appearance, nationality or origin."

The Wahhabis are blamed for setting up terror camps and encouraging Bosnian Muslims into radicalism. In February, one particular case of Wahhabi indoctrination shocked the nation. A 23-year old convert to Wahhabism tried to get his mother to come to morning prayers. When she refused, he murdered her. Still stained in blood, the young convert went to his "Wahhabi" mosque and proudly announced that he had just made "a sacrifice to God".

Confronting the Wahhabis


By Stephen Schwartz


TCS Daily, December 19, 2006


"The dogs bark, the caravan moves on."


That Middle Eastern proverb could well describe the events surrounding production of the world's most-hyped dud firecracker, the Iraq Study Group Report. After immense agonies in the mainstream media (MSM), those like myself who predicted the report, once released, would largely be ignored by President George W. Bush, are being proven right and neoconservatives who support a continued commitment to the transformation of Iraq have exhibited renewed influence.


Only a couple of lines in the report were worthy of comment. One appears on page 29 of the printed version: "Funding for the Sunni insurgency (sic) comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia." This was the first time anybody connected to the U.S. government acknowledged something known throughout the Muslim world. That is, Sunni terrorism in Iraq is not an insurgency, but an invasion; the "foreign fighters" are mainly Saudi, as revealed when their deaths are covered in Saudi media, replete with photographs of the "martyrs."


But this obscure comment was overlooked by most of the MSM, which is also befuddled by the recent sudden departure of Ambassador Turki al-Faisal from his post in the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington. The MSM and a large part of the American government scratch their heads, barely capable of imagining that the revelation of the Saudi financing of Sunni terrorists in Iraq and the resignation of the kingdom's man in the U.S. would have anything in common.


Yet they are linked. Liberal reformers in the milieu of Saudi King Abdullah point out that Abdullah has called for an end to sectarian fighting in Iraq and has demanded that Shia Muslims no longer be called unbelievers by the Wahhabi clerics that still function, unfortunately, as the official interpreters of Islam in the Saudi kingdom. Abdullah has promised to spend $450 million on an ultra-modern security fence along the Saudi-Iraqi border. Ambassador Turki, it is said, supports Abdullah in these worthy goals.


But King Abdullah and the overwhelming Saudi majority, who want to live in a normal country, are opposed by the Wahhabi-line faction in the royal family. The pro-Wahhabi clique is led by three individuals: Prince Sultan Ibn Abd al-Aziz, minister of defense; Prince Bandar, predecessor of Turki as ambassador to Washington; and Sultan's brother, Prince Nayef. Nayef is notorious for having been the first prominent figure in the Muslim world to try to blame the atrocities of September 11, 2001 on Israel. He is deeply feared both inside and outside Saudi Arabia for his extremism.


Saudi sources indicate that King Abdullah is assembling his forces for a decisive confrontation with the reactionaries. Part of the Wahhabi-line strategy is to depict a U.S. leadership in conflict with King Abdullah, to undermine the monarch's credibility. That is why different versions of a meeting between U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and King Abdullah, late last month, circulate in the MSM and the blogosphere.


According to credible reports, Cheney urged Abdullah to stiffen action against Saudi-Wahhabi involvement in the Iraqi bloodletting. According to unreliable gadflies, King Abdullah commanded Cheney's presence, to demand that the U.S. immediately attack Iran. But the claim that King Abdullah summoned and berated Cheney does not ring true. King Abdullah is too polite, and Cheney does not take such orders, according to those who know both men.


Many leading clerics and intellectuals among Sunni Muslims indicate that King Abdullah has effectively told the Wahhabis that they will no longer receive official subsidies, and must end their violent jihad around the world. The greatest impact of this development may be seen in Iraq, but Wahhabis everywhere have begun to worry about their future. In a totalitarian system like Wahhabism, the weakest links snap first. And the beginning of the end for them may now be visible in the Muslim Balkans.


That the crisis of Wahhabi credibility would become manifest simultaneously in Washington, Baghdad, and Sarajevo might seem counter-intuitive to many Westerners, especially given that the former Yugoslavia is considered by foreigners to be marginal and insignificant. But for those who know the Islamic world, it makes perfect sense. The Saudis have tried for almost 15 years to use the difficulties of Bosnian and other local Islamic folk to drive the Balkan Muslims away from their traditional, spiritual, and peaceful form of Islam into Wahhabi radicalism. But Wahhabi agitators who went to ex-Yugoslavia to sow discord and reap recruits for terror have begun to show deep anxiety about the loss of their Saudi support, and now act in an ever more provocative and aggressive manner.


For their part, the Balkan Muslims are demonstrating an attitude of disgust and repudiation toward their alleged Saudi patrons, such that the Muslim Balkans may become the first "Wahhabi-free zone" in the global Islamic community, or umma. Months ago, Bosnian chief Islamic cleric Mustafa Ceric issued a document readable here, stating, "the most perilous force destabilizing the umma presently is from the inside." The Bosnians, according to Ceric, are "determined in [their] intention to protect the originality of the centuries-long tradition of the Islamic Community in Bosnia-Hercegovina."


In October 2006, imam Dzemo Redzematovic, leader of the Slavic Muslim minority in newly-independent Montenegro denounced the Wahhabis for "introducing a new approach to Islamic rules [that] is unnecessary and negative because it creates a rift among the believers" and "claims some exclusive right to interpret Islamic rules."


The Wahhabis had lost their chance in Bosnia-Hercegovina but were under close scrutiny in Montenegro. They were also active over the border, in southern Serbia. On November 3, as described here, a group of fanatics disrupted Friday prayers at a mosque in the town of Novipazar, assailing the imam for refusing to follow their "guidance." In the ensuing affray, two local Muslims allegedly replaced "the weapons of criticism" with "the criticism of weapons," and the Wahhabis were met with gunfire. Iraq, it seemed, had come to ex-Yugoslavia.


I was in Sarajevo when this incident occurred, and the outrage of the local Muslims against the Wahhabi interlopers was palpable then and has grown more aggravated since. Bosnian Muslim intellectuals became more militant in their anti-Wahhabi idiom. On November 18, a distinguished professor of Arabic at the University of Sarajevo, Esad Durakovic, wrote, "The snowball called Wahhabism has been rolling down the Bosnian hill, but it is still not certain which side is going to be struck by the avalanche.... Wahhabi efforts are extremely decisive and resolute... the response has to be more appropriate and urgent... Wahhabis are wrong when they think that they can act as a Taliban in Europe (just as they are wrong about everything else)... We have to act immediately." (translation here)


A week later, on November 25, Professor Resid Hafizovic of the Faculty of Islamic Studies of the University of Sarajevo was even bolder. An outstanding Balkan scholar of Sufism or Islamic spirituality, Hafizovic dramatically warned, "They Are Coming for Our Children." He accused the Wahhabis forthrightly:


"They are among us. By marrying related folk in our villages, towns, and cities, they have already infected our traditional social system. They are already present in our media, state administration and religious institutions: in our mosques, medresas, and academia, everywhere."


Hafizovic identified the Wahhabi trail of blood traced through the past decade "Recognizing it as a continuation of the inferno in Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Palestine, the most powerful civil and religious authorities... should immediately take responsibility for preventing the hell Wahhabis are constructing in this country."


Questioned on Bosnian television about the country's receipt of aid from Saudi Arabia during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, Hafizovic said: "I would be very pleased if a full stop were put once and for all to the talk of the great and fabulous aid that Saudi Arabia has given [us]... Because we have to pay. The Saudis and their envoys keep asking us to pay... the price is such that we have to sell our people, our religion, our 500 years of religious and cultural tradition and legacy. And this is precisely what they want: our minds, our hearts, our souls... Let us put an end to this story once and for all and say: Dear [Saudi] gentlemen, if you keep rubbing our noses in the aid - and you are - we will give it back to you." Hafizovic and other Bosnian Muslim clerics and intellectuals call Wahhabism a virus.


Given these developments, global eradication of the Wahhabi virus may be in sight.

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