A conference on Bosniaks in the 2021 population census was held on Saturday where a joint plan of action by the Bosniak community throughout Croatia and the need to draft an action plan for and inform the community of the importance of ethnic identification was discussed.
“The population census is important given the problem of some Bosniaks identifying as Muslims, whereby they are not in the preamble of the Constitution, which doesn’t recognise them as a national minority and so they can’t exercise all the rights that members of national minorities have,” said Armin Hodzic, president of the Zagreb Bosniak Minority Council.
This year’s census will be different because part of it will be conducted online for the first time and because Sisak-Moslavina County, where many Bosniaks live, was struck by a devastating earthquake in December, he said.
According to Hodzic, the number of Bosniaks has increased, with half identifying as Bosniaks and half as Muslims in the 2001 census and 31,5000 identifying as Bosniaks and 10,000 as Muslims in the 2011 census.
“We hope that trend will continue and we wish to make it as easy as possible for people to identify,” he said and pointed to problematic electoral rolls. He said 31,500 Bosniaks lived in Croatia according to the 2011 census while only 13,000 were in the electoral rolls for last year’s parliamentary election.
Minority members should take joint stand on population census
The president of the Split-Dalmatia County Bosniak Minority Council, Kadro Kulasin, said minority members should take a joint stand on the census and encouraged Bosniaks to identify as such.
“That’s very important for exercising future rights, which are defined by the Constitution and the law on national minority rights and which concern livelihood, education and life in general.”
He said that given the large numbers of Bosniaks some towns, municipalities and counties, they expected them to be hired in local government, state administration and the interior and defence ministries.
Dzemal Bratic, a representative of the Bosniak ethnic minority from Osijek-Baranja County, said this minority was the second largest in Croatia and that they wanted this year’s census to show that.
He said Bosniaks were equals in the former state yet a minority in Croatia, but added that they were nonetheless proud of their contribution to the creation of the Croatian state and society.
“Bosniaks shouldn’t get bigger rights than some other national minorities, but they should get their place and role in the new Republic of Croatia given their contribution to its creation together with other national minorities and relevant political factors,” said Bratic.