BELGRADE – The Islamic Community of Serbia (IZS) wants a unity of Muslims in Serbia under its Riyasat in Belgrade, IZS deputy Reis-ul-Ulema and Mufti of Serbia Muhamed Jusufspahic said Friday.

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“Someone wants to place us, who live in Serbia, under the authority of the Riyasat in other countries. This is contrary to the divine law of Islam. We live in Serbia and speak the Serbian language,” Jusufspahic said in an interview for Tanjug.

“The project for the unity of Muslims in Serbia is not a Turkish or Sarajevo’s project, but rather the Islamic Community of Serbia’s,” the mufti said.

“We are united by Allah, our Creator. We are united by the country we live in – Serbia – and the language spoken here. It is our language, it is my language and in Serbia it is called Serbian,” he explained.

“We have no reason to act the way we did at the time of the former Yugoslavia, which is no longer there. This is Serbia and the IZS Riyasat is here as well, without the ‘in Serbia’ part (refers to the name of the other Islamic community in the country, the Islamic Community IN Serbia, which is subordinate to the Islamic Community of Bosnia-Herzegovina), because we are not intruders here,” said Jusufspahic.

Since 2007, there have been two Islamic communities operating in Serbia – the Islamic Community OF Serbia, with headquarters in Belgrade, and Novi Pazar-based Islamic Community IN Serbia, a Meshihat that operates within the Islamic Community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose headquarters are in Sarajevo.

“All Muslims in Serbia should have their own administration and, with all due respect, it should be free of the interference of those coming to us from Ankara or Sarajevo,” said Jusufspahic, who was born in Belgrade and calls himself a Serbian patriot belonging to Allah.

“As a Muslim, I have to do good to Serbian citizens, be they the majority Serbians or those minority peoples. Serbia is named after Serbians completely legitimately, and we who are not Serbians and live in Serbia, we are named after Serbia and Serbia is our common denominator,” he said.

Jusufspahic pointed out that he sees no purpose in establishing a European mufti when there is no Asian, African or ecumenical Khalifa of all Muslims.

He also said that he opposes the Serbian citizens’ going to war in Syria, as it is a conflict between those who want to dominate the country’s financial, economic and oil sectors.

Jusufspahic advised the new government not to sell themselves and their people, to keep the resources of the country and people despite all challenges, including the European and world integration challenges facing Serbia.

Jusufspahic expects the new government to ensure that the IZS has equal status with other religious communities and to give the community back the Bajrakli Mosque and all other nationalized mosques in Serbia, a country declared as secular, with an Orthodox Christian majority.

“It is what we are entitled to in Serbia and what Serbia owes us, and Serbia is entitled to expect of us to be its good, well-meaning citizens,” Mufti Jusufspahic said.