Husein ef. Kavazović.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ /dc

The head of the Islamic community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Husein Kavazovic, on Tuesday called on young Muslims to follow the tradition of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tolerant Islam rather than what he described as an imported, radical Islam, and he warned that Bosniaks' fundamental rights were endangered and crimes against them, such as the Srebrenica genocide, were denied.

In a sermon on the occasion of Ramadan Bayram in Sarajevo's Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque, Kavazovic underlined the need to preserve the values of a tolerant Islam such as the one cherished by Bosnia and Herzegovina Muslims.

"Frequently, Islamic teachings and forms we are unfamiliar with are imposed on us, for which questionable arguments are offered. I therefore call on our boys and girls to dedicate themselves to studying the Islamic tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to use their time to work and study. Let it be known that we are not a rootless tree or a community of ignorant and irresponsible people who have easily and without any forethought acquired what is frequently questioned today," said the dignitary in an allusion to aggressive attempts at imposing radical Islamic teachings that promote intolerance and exclusiveness, especially towards other religions.

Kavazovic also warned about Bosniaks being denied their rights, about their fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to use one's own language, being denied through the challenging of that language's name, as is the case in schools in the Serb entity whose authorities refuse to use the term 'Bosnian language'.

"Happy and progressive societies resolutely fight against discrimination and injustice among people. Those who are responsible for running this country must be aware of that. We are witnessing aggressive attacks on our people's fundamental human rights and identity. Is there anywhere in Europe a place where violence against children is committed so openly as is the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina?" Kavazovic asked.

The Muslim dignitary also condemned the repeated denial of the genocide against Muslims in Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb authorities.

"Can we accept the denial of the killing of innocent people and their dignity, their being turned into dead slaves, can we accept the denial of the victim and the glorification of the crime... Dare any of us keep silent about it? Isn't Srebrenica our gravest wound, permanently engraved in our memory? Shouldn't it be a wound of the entire world? Evil is evil, it must have a name and be condemned and it cannot be accepted," said Kavazovic.

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