Foreign institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina condemned the statements by Milorad Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, who recently used derogatory words to describe Muslim call to prayer. They said such rhetoric was useless and unacceptable.
Speaking for Cirilica programme, broadcast on Alternative Television (ATV) this Monday, President of the RS, Bosnia's Serb-dominated part, said too many mosques were built in Bosnia and that the calls to prayers from mosques, which he described as “screaming”, were disturbing.
Dodik's words triggered reactions on social networks and were condemned by the international institutions in Bosnia.
“There is too much of the provocative and useless rhetoric in this country. Public figures, who have a responsibility to contribute to peace and reconciliation should carefully and responsibly choose their words and refrain from intolerant comments,” the Office of the High Representative (OHR), an institution in charge of overseeing the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the 1990s war in Bosnia, told N1.
“The responsibility is solely on the elected government officials, as emphasized in several reports of the High Representatives for the UN. The message remains the same for all: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a multi-ethnic state where all citizens – representing three constituent peoples and the others – live and work together,” the OHR said.
The US Embassy assessed as “absolutely unacceptable” any statement promoting intolerance or the hate speech, adding that this requires adequate measures of authorities.
“Such rhetoric is particularly dangerous when used by elected officials and public figures,” the embassy said for N1.
“We are committed to the promotion of religious freedoms across the world, both now and in the future. That is the right that every individual in the world is entitled to,” the embassy noted, emphasizing that conflicts, instability and terrorism are present wherever the fundamental religious freedoms, the freedom of expression, press and right to peaceful gathering are jeopardized. “On the other hand, the governments and societies which advocate these freedoms are safer, more stable and are ruled by peace.”
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) in Sarajevo also reacted, saying this was opposite to how the public officials should act.
“The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina strongly condemns the spreading of intolerance and any statements which may incite national and religious hatred. Such statements damage community relations. Public officials have a responsibility to create a positive social climate. This does the opposite”, the OSCE told N1.
“We emphasize the importance of respect of freedom of religion and belief for all BiH citizens”, said the Sarajevo office of the OSCE, an organization dealing with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation.