World Bulletin / News Desk
More than a thousand Muslims in Serbia staged protests at the week-end against Serbian move to build preschool facility in a land of Islamic Community in Novi Pazar, Sandzak. But police arrested unspecified number of demonstrators.
Mufti Muamer Zukorlic, leader of the Islamic Community in Serbia, said that the city wants to build a kindergarten on land belonging to his community which was seized by the communist government after the Second World War.
The Muslims argue that confiscation of the land represents a culmination of violence, discrimination and disrespect for basic Muslim rights, according to Southeast European Times.
After the protest, Zukorlic called on Belgrade to begin dialogue in order to maintain peace and stability in Sandzak where the situation was "exceptionally tense."
He ruled out the possibility of further talks with Novi Pazar authorities. The mayor of Novi Pazar, Meho Mahmutovic, however, insisted that the issue should be resolved at the local, not state, level.
The Pro-Serbian town authorities have said the parcel is city-owned.
Call for EU observers
On Monday, Zukorlic's Bosniak National Council urged that EU observers be sent to the Muslim-populated Sandzak because of "discrimination and repression against Muslims." The council said an EU presence would ease tensions and set the stage for dialogue with Belgrade.
B92 quoted from a statement of the council, the Council sent its request to EU Security and Foreign Policies Chief Catherine Ashton, who was informed in a letter about the frequent cases of discrimination and the violation of rights on religious and ethnic grounds in the region.
The letter stresses that the recent events in Novi Pazar show that tension is boiling over in Sandzak, and that an excessively large number of police officers present in the region are not helping calm the situation.
He said that the problem represented the feeling of citizens that discrimination and disregard of the rights of Bosniaks (ethnic Bosnian Muslims) in Sandzak were increasing.
He said that the repressive measures used in Sandzak over the last few days were to punish Bosniaks for their decision to support the Bosniak cultural community in the national council elections and withdraw their confidence in ministers Rasim Ljajic and Sulejman Ugljanin.
The Bosniak National Council was formed by the Bosniak Cultural Community and two Bosniak Renaissance members.
The Bosniak Cultural Community, led by Zukorlic, won 17 of the 35 seats on the council in the June elections.