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Photograph: bs.wikipedia.org

The head of the Islamic community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Husein Kavazovic, on Saturday accused the Serb Orthodox Church of encouraging nationalism and protecting convicted war criminals which, according to him, makes coexistence and stable relations in Bosnia more difficult.

Reis Kavazovic said that unlike the Serb Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church acted like Bosnia's friend, helping the strengthening of its international position.

Kavazovic particularly praised Pope Francis, underlining the importance of the messages the Holy Father gave during his visit to Sarajevo in June 2015.

"Pope Francis's visit to Sarajevo ... has strengthen Bosnia's international position and removed fears that the Catholic Church supported separatist policies in Bosnia. Unfortunately, we are not under the same impression when it comes to public statements by leaders of the Serb Orthodox Church from Belgrade. On the contrary, they are encouraging Serb nationalism and exclusivity and promote the glorification of crime and criminals, thus additionally hampering the process of reconciliation, understanding and insurance of better life for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Kavazovic said.

Reis Kavazovic is known as a calm person who chooses his words carefully and tires to create prerequisites for dialogue and understanding. His Saturday's criticism of the Serb Orthodox Church is his first harsh and clear public statement in which he defined his opinion towards the leadership of the Serb Orthodox Church which persistently supports the separatists policy advocated by the president of the Bosnian Serb entity, Milorad Dodik.

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