Religious leaders and Bosnian elections

Bosnia and Herzegovina will held general elections in last than two weeks; October 3rd will be day when citizens would decide direction of Bosnian future. Future direction of Bosnia and Herzegovina will have a great impact on regional cooperation and future relations between neighbouring states as EU and NATO members. Political fights in election period are not big or such important problem because they are usual and widely accepted way to win an election war. In Bosnian case much worse is political activity of religious leaders whom allow themselves to speak publicly about all political issues and to openly preferred one political options among others.

Religious communities and their leaders have a great impact on Bosnian society and it’s almost hard to believe that any party would ensure their win without their help and support. Professor Miodrag Zivanovic, from University of Banja Luka, stands that people saw nationalistic political parties as destinies and authenticable national representatives.

“If you have examples that police reform is agreed at Monastery Liplje and while the bishops don’t agree in this with solutions and reforms, there is no reforms. If you also have a fact, I’ll tell you that simplified, that actual president of SDA Party is Grand-Mufti Mustafa Ceric, or if we have at work in Western Herzegovina something what can be called Catholic fundamentalism we don’t need any further discussion”, said Prof. Zivanovic.

Mr. Edhem Bicakcicc, former PM of Federation B&H, at this moment is speaker of the Islamic Community (IC) Assembly frequently, repeats that IC Constitution doesn’t permit to Imams, muftis or even Grand Mufti of Bosnia to be actively involved in political and religious work. Many analysts and even politician, in B&H and abroad, are pretty confident that Bosnian Grand Mufti, Mustafa Ceric, is Bosniaks central political figure and person how has a greatest impact on all important political decisions in their national group.

Mr. Bicakcic said to Radio Free Europe that there is no any real political connection between political parties and religious officials since B&H decide to take EU path, because EU forbid any interference between those two social elements. His opinion would be probably true if we didn’t saw numerous examples when Imams in their officials uniforms attend political rally’s especially for  newly formed Pact for Better Future lead by media mogul Mr. Fahrudin Radoncic. This caused many political and media bursts between Mr. Radoncic party and IC versus Party of Democratic Action and her leader Sulejman Tihic, because Mr. Tihic tries to free his party of religious impact in the future.

Normal and totally acceptable situation for all political parties in Republic of Srpska (RS) is presence of Serbian Orthodox Church Archbishops and priests on rally’s, or to give a blessing to newly open Government Executive Building. In the past PM of RS, Milorad Dodik, held several meetings with former EU High Representative in B&H, Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, in Monastery Tvrdos in presence of Bishop Grigorije when they discuss several hot political issues.

Croatian political parties are maintaining their relations with Catholic Church very tight and they use every single opportunity to show themselves in presence of bishops or Sarajevo Archbishop Vinko Cardinal Puljic. During the election race they will visit all local and religious sanctuaries, attend services and use that as an example that they have a Church support for their policies.

Professor Zivanovic concludes that there is optional solution for this issue. As experience scholar he urges state to reform educational system as a first step in divide of state and religion. In second phase, Prof. Zivanovic, would like to see much more rigorous laws which will provide true and functional separation of state and religion.


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