Tension within the Muslim community in FYROM

Tension within the Muslim community in FYROM

Skopje, 5 May 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

Tension and violence have dominated the Muslim community in FYR Macedonia. This situation is escalating following the event taken place yesterday, where a group of clerics and former heads of the Islamic Community in FYROM (BIM) have broken into the seat of the community, announcing themselves as temporary leaders.

This group consists of the Mufti of Skopje, Ibrahim Shabani, former BIM general secretary, Afrim Tairi and their collaborators, who last week were discharged from the highest structure of BIM known as “Rijaset”, for not obeying official rules and regulations.

The rebellious group doesn’t recognize the current chairman of BIM, Sulejman Rexhepi and as of yesterday, some of them have formed a temporary council which will lead this religious institution. All the activities of this group have taken place in the seat of BIM, where police forces were present to maintain order.

On the other hand, the head of BIM, Sulejman Rexhepi said that a group of people have violently invaded the headquarter of the religious institution and that they have police support. “This is a politically manipulated group, which aims at encouraging conflicts between Albanians and Muslim believers. I fear that someone may abuse with the situation and cause major problems through these incidents. We are also suspicious about the fact that law and order authorities are not intervening”, said Rexhepi after the meeting held last night with 12 Muftis of other communes that support him.

According to him, police have received orders from the Prosecution to intervene, but he said that police are doing nothing to remove the people who have taken over the headquarters of BIM. Rexhepi also said that he has informed foreign diplomats on this incident.

Yesterday’s incident also saw the use of fire weapons by supporters of the head of BIM, who tried to stop the entry of the group.

Muslim believers say that there must be composure and understanding in order to solve problems.

Adil Sakipi, a Muslim believer from Skopje told IBNA that there must be maturity and wisdom to solve disputes and problems within this community and not ruin the image of the central religious institution.

“Instead of demonstrating values and wisdom, they are resorting to violence in order to seize power and control. Both groups know their scopes. Up until yesterday, they were together, while today they’re disputing on issues for which, we, believers are not aware. It’s best if things are solved through dialogue and not violence”, says Adil Sakipi.

Commission for relations between religious communities, an institution elected by parliament, asked the parties involved in the recent events at BIM to use dialogue and understanding and not resort to violence in solving these problems.

Problems between the heads of the Muslim religious community have started a month ago as a result of different disputes between BIM and the Muftiat of Skopje. This situation escalated two weeks ago in a religious ceremony organized by the Muftiat, where the head of BIM publicly accused his opponents for not respecting the central religious institution.

Following this ceremony, insults were exchanged, leading to a physical clash.

This incident led to the head of BIM to summon the highest authorities of the Islamic religion and discharge the Mufti of Skopje and his supporters, including the general secretary of BIM, who several years ago were close supporters.

Since the independence of the country, there have been several incidents of such nature within BIM with the aim of taking control through violence and lack of transparency. /ibna/