A special session of the Croatian Parliament, marking the 100th anniversary of the institutionalised Islam in Croatia, was held on Wednesday with top state officials attending the event.

Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic  recalled that Islam had been present in Croatia for several centuries. "Through that time, the relations between the state and Islam had been exposed to challenges, but ever since 1916 we have been building these relations on new foundations. Croatia is the second European country to recognise Islam as an official religion and that was done only four years after Austria which recognised Islam in 1912," Oreskovic said.

Croatia and the Islamic community can be proud of what they have built through joint effort, the prime minister said.

"Today we have the experience of coexistence and regulated relations between the state and the Islamic community, which can serve as a model for many countries in Europe and the world," Oreskovic said, underscoring that he was proud of the fact that Croatian Muslims were an integral part of modern Croatian society.

Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner said the law adopted by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia on this day in 1916, proved to be a wise and long-reaching decision.

"We particularly appreciate the meaning of this decision in today's turbulent world of wars waged by an instrumentalised minority allegedly in the name of Islam thus unfortunately causing immeasurable damage to Muslims, but also to global peace and development of humanity. Because Islam is a religion of peace," Reiner said.

He said that for centuries Croatia has been the homeland to the biggest three monotheistic religions -- Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

"Inter-religious respect and the right of every persons to freedom of religion, but also the obligation of those individuals not to deny that same right to members of other religious groups, have always been the prerequisite for life in peace and stability in these parts. Even more so, given that the interests of big political forces had always been overlapping in Southeast Europe whereby faith was used for ideological purposes, resulting in the outbreak of conflicts and wars," Reiner said.

Reiner also underlined the large contribution of the Islamic community to Croatia's heritage. "Muslims in Croatia for centuries have been part of the the economic, scientific, political and cultural  and sports life, making Croatia a better and progressive country," Reiner said.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that generations of Muslims in Croatia has proved themselves through their work and activities in numerous areas, as responsible participants in the development and progress.

The president also underscored the contribution of the Islamic believers to the Homeland War, saying that many of them gave their lives for Croatia's freedom.

The head of the Islamic Community in Croatia, Mufti Aziz Hasanovic said he was proud of the fact that the Islamic Community and the Republic of Croatia had reached the highest level of regulated and good relations. He also said Croatia should serve as an example to other countries which are facing certain problems with their Islamic communities.

He underscored that in the past 100 years, the Islamic Community in Croatia had always had a positive and constructive role in society.

At the session, numerous charters and certificates were awarded to the Office of the President, the Croatian Parliament, the mayors of Zagreb, Rijeka and Dubrovnik and the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (diyanet).

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