Raisu-l-Ulama of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina reacts to Patriarch Irinaeus' Statement
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After the statement of the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinaeus after his meeting with Milorad Dodik, a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, when he said: „borders between Republika Srpska and Serbia do not exist, and they must not and should not exist, because we are one nation, speaking one language and sharing common values,“ Raisu-l-Ulama of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Husein ef. Kavazović, also issued a statement. He said:
I am not pleased that this Orthodox holiday is used for political purposes, which forces me to react in order to once again send a message of peace and unity in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the entire region. But first, I would like to repeat my sincere Christmas greetings to His Grace the Metropolitan of Dabar and Bosnia Hrizostom and Orthodox believers, expressing hope that this year will bring peace and well-being and that, by working together, we will preserve tolerance.
I feel very sorry for being forced in these festive days to react to the misleading messages of Patriarch Irinaeus, which have brought fear to other nations in this region. I have always believed that religious holidays are an occasion to express love and respect to each other, not to spread discord among nations, and even among believers of the same faith. Our Serbian neighbors and fellow citizens are now celebrating their greatest holiday in the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only in one administrative area of the indivisible territory of our homeland. The times of these fear-mongering messages, which are very easy to read and call for disrespecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina are long gone. It is my duty to express my displeasure on occasions like this, particularly for the sake of Muslim believers who live in the smaller BH entity where the genocide which culminated in the events in Srebrenica in 1995 took place. Throughout that territory, tens of thousands of Bosniaks were murdered, raped and forced out of their homes because of such plans for Greater Serbia, which aimed at making a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as Patriarch Irinaeus says, „inseparable from the Serbian center.“ The need for religious unity of the members of the Serbian Orthodox Church cannot imply the making of a single political region.
The most well-meaning advice we can give our neighbors in the Serbian Orthodox Church, for the sake of the future of our nations and peace, is to not let their church continue to be perceived as a political project. That is not good for the future of this part of Europe and it is hardly rooted in purely religious sources. This new form of phyletism will bring no good to either the Serbian Orthodox Church or other churches and religious communities in this region.
All citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Muslim, Orthodox, Jewish and Catholic believers, live in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, have its citizenship and live according to its laws; that is a fact. The only country which is their home is Bosnia and Herzegovina, and according to clearly defined constitutional and legal procedures, its internal organization is a matter of their joint agreement. Any attempt to do that in another way would result in taking our country back to the 1990s, which we all remember only for evil. Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a permanent category with clearly defined borders that Patriarch Irinaeus knows as well as myself, with enough room for all Bosniaks and Serbs and Croats, and all its other citizens. It has always been so, and, by the will of God, will continue to be so in the future.