Islamic community marking centenary of presence in Slovenia


Mufti Nedžad Grabus noted as the conference opened that it was exactly one hundred years ago when the first mosque was built on the territory of present-day Slovenia, in Log pod Mangartom in the north-west.

The mosque was built by Bosniak Muslim members of the Austro-Hungarian Army serving on the Isonzo Front in WWI so that they could perform their religious duties.

Grabus noted that the mosque had been "far from the centre", and that the Islamic community in Slovenia experienced its renaissance only after the country gained independence at the beginning of the 1990s.

After being "only an appendix to Zagreb", Muslims in Slovenia managed to get their legal status regulated and realise infrastructural projects, the mufti assessed.

Grabus added that the Slovenian Islamic Community was thinking about opening an institution with a secondary school programme with an emphasis on the languages in which Islam and the Islamic culture have developed.

Ljubljana Auxiliary Bishop Anton Jamnik pointed to the good cooperation between religious communities in Slovenia and the importance of dialogue.

Bosnian theologian Enes Karić of the Sarajevo Faculty of Islamic Studies stressed that dialogue was a moral obligation of Islamic scholars, "especially today when much radicalism is present among Muslims".

"Professors of theology have the special responsibility of acquainting Muslims with the basic elements of secular society", he added

Culture Minister Tone Peršak, who is an honorary sponsor of the conference, said that "if there is no dialogue, this will lead to more intolerance", adding that Slovenia was on a good path in this respect.

Interestingly, Karić and Peršak established that they are both descendants of Austro-Hungarian soldiers who fought on the Isonzo Front, and that both of them collected the memories of their grandfathers in novels.

The opening addresses are being followed by five panels, including on social and religious issues in the 20th century, religion and identity, political and social aspects of religion and inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.

The hosts of the conference, Muslim NGO Averroes and the Slovenian Islamic Community, will organise on Thursday a guided tour of the emerging Islamic Cultural Centre in Ljubljana for the participants.