By Aleksandar Pavlevski
Informal initiatives and a common language is needed to bring Muslim groups in Macedonia together after the construction of a mosque by Roma Muslims in Prelip threatened tensions, one Islamic leader said.
“Muslims must find a common language and reach an agreement about building mosques, regardless of ethnicity. The Albanians, even though are a majority, should listen more to others about their religious needs. Islam dictates that we are together. By fostering informal initiatives to get closer with one another, we expect relations to warm up soon,” Muarem Tairi, 56, an ethnic Albanian and an Islamic elder in Saraj near Skopje, told SETimes.
The construction of a mosque for Roma Muslims in the Trizla neighbourhood of Prelip, Macedonia, intensified tensions between the Roma and the Islamic Religious Community (IRC).
The IRC, which is comprised mainly of Albanian Muslims, will not sanctify the mosque since it is being constructed without the approval of its imams.
“Albanians consider that these parallel Muslim institutions must be immediately repressed. This must not be permitted. The mosque should be either constructed with the permission of the Islamic Religious Community or it should be tumbled down,” Jakup Sinani, an Albanian Muslim from Skopje, told SETimes.
However, according to Tairi, the construction should have been expected.
“When the Roma demanded a mosque, we did not build it, and now they are building it themselves,” he said.
But the Roma Muslims claim that the IRC is trying to exert control over them.
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“The Islamic Religious Community was pushing us couple of few times and asked the Roma Muslim communities from Prilep to stop the plans for construction of a mosque. It is not possible for only one nation in one country to have the right to Muslim religion. We are Muslims as well and we want our own mosque,” Rusid Sabanoski, a Roma Muslim from Prilep, told SETimes.
The growing discord between Muslims from different nationalities may adversely affect the co-existence in the country, analysts said.
“These cases may slowly, but surely, destabilise the country, as well as the region … I think that in these kind of cases maybe radical Islam has its fingers in the pie. It is a matter of misuse of religion for political purposes,” Ivan Babamovski, university professor and former superintendent in the National Security Service in Macedonia, told SETimes.
“If the situation continues without finding a common language between ethnic communities with the same religion, then we would have multilayer front in future … which is dangerous at any rate,” Babamovski added.