Sarajevos Catholics Seek Minority Rights
Children dressed as angels arrive to re-enact a nativity scene during 2011 Christmas celebrations in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sarajevo Catholic officials say the citys Muslim-dominated government is not protecting minority rights, but the mayor s aid his city is committed to providing a home for all religious faiths. (photo: CNS/Dado Ruvic, Reuters)
16 May 2012 by Jonathan Luxmoore
OXFORD, England (CNS) — Sarajevo Catholic
officials say the citys Muslim-dominated government is not protecting minority rights, but the mayor said his city is committed to providing a home for all religious faiths.
Sarajevo Mayor Alija Behmen said city
authorities treat all citizens equally and pay equal
attention to all — the structure of the city council and city
administration is multinational and multireligious.
Sarajevo has cultivated multiculturalism for
centuries, which is a rarity in Europe, and will continue
doing so. This is an axiom for our citys authorities,
Behmen told Catholic News Service.
In an April statement, Bosnian Cardinal Vinko
Puljic said Christians faced an uncertain future in the
predominantly Muslim city after their numbers decreased
by a third in the past decade.
In an April 6 statement commemorating the start
of the 1992-95 siege by Bosnian Serb forces, the cardinal
said: After such a violent and senseless war, it was hard
to believe Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims and
Jews could live together any longer. With positions
opposed between Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, the reality
by which diverse peoples lived together here has begun to
splinter and falter.
Behmen told Catholic News Service May 9 that
the citys demographic structure had changed, but added
that he had no current data on its inhabitants and their
Sarajevo has realized a successful cooperation
with religious communities and churches for many years
and supported their activities financially in restoring and
rebuilding religious structures, including places of cultural
and historic heritage, as well as in backing educational,
social and humanitarian events, he said.
He added that his office would investigate claims
of discrimination and rejected suggestions city authorities
were under pressure to promote Islamic values by
restricting alcohol and imposing dress codes on non-Muslims.
However, the vicar-general of the Sarajevo
Archdiocese, Msgr. Matko Zovkic, accused the mayor of
In theory, everyone is treated equally under the
law here, but in practice this isnt the case, Msgr. Zovkic
told CNS May 11.
Tags: Interreligious Catholic-Muslim relations Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnian Catholics Sarajevo