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INFO   :::  Educational Outreaches - PAGE 2 > Am I a Muslim in Europe or a European Muslim?


Am I a Muslim in Europe or a European Muslim?

Novi Pazar, 2 March 2015


The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia organized a youth seminar in Novi Pazar for 30 university and high school students. Sociologist of religion Srdjan Barisic and Director of the Balkan Centre for the Middle East Ivan Ejub Kostic talked about fundamentalism, different interpretations of religions and roots of Islam in Europe. Participants discussed possible answers to the question „Am I a Muslim in Europe or a European Muslim?” in the context of the identity crisis in Western Europe.

Participants also raised the issue of Wahhabism. A student pointed out the deficiency of the discourse about Wahhabis. “What characterizes Wahhabis? Why do we label someone a Wahhabi? We are using it just as a term, often not knowing at all what it denotes. Do Wahhabis exist here or is it only a myth?” Ivan Ejub Kostic explained the confusion by rather unprofessional media coverage of the issue. “Certain media do not only group persons as Islamists, Wahhabis etc., but they also in the majority of cases represent all Muslims as a militant group, while the exact information indicates that just one percent of total Muslim population belongs to militant groups today.”

Participants in the seminar also had the opportunity to talk to representatives of the local police. In a lively debate students wanted officers to tell them what they planned to do about pressing local problems such as peer violence and better and safer public transportation. “Can the developments after the attack at Charlie Hebdo newsroom affect Novi Pazar?” asked some. Police officers said that was a security challenge but not an actual problem plaguing the local community. In order to illustrate the thesis, an officer referred to the peaceful protest in Novi Pazar against the controversial cartoons that was not accompanied by any incident whatsoever.

The youth seminar was organized within the project “Reach out Sandzak II” that Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and its Novi Pazar-based youth group realize with the assistance from the US Embassy, Belgrade.
















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