Bosnia's Muslims Divided Over Inroads of Wahhabism

December 29, 2006

Author: Daria Sito-Sucic

Source: The Washington Post

Wire Service: Reuters

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Last week, Sarajevo's Jesus Heart cathedral was packed for Christmas mass. This week its King Fahd mosque is filled ahead of the Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice.

The Bosnian capital is still a mix of Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam.

Since the Bosnia war ended in 1995 the Muslim faith dominates, but not all adherents are happy with the increasing numbers of people following the puritanical Sunni Muslim Wahhabi sect.

"Wahhabism has seriously divided children and parents, spiritual leaders and priests, professors and students, neighborhoods," says lecturer Adnan Silajdzic, who teaches comparative religions at Sarajevo University's Faculty of Islamic Studies.

Jasmin Merdan, a Wahhabi dissident and co-author of a book on Wahhabi ideology and history, said the issue was not that they prayed or dressed differently, but that they were intolerant and aggressive toward other Muslims.

"These are mostly young, uneducated people," he said.