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Muslim Mayor’s Victory Highlights the Inner Contradictions of Europe

Can you imagine how Euro-fascists such as Vlaams Belang and Geert Wilders will react to this? We are witness to a historical moment in Europe that highlights the inner contradictions on the continent: in the Balkans, long thought of as a region of European intolerance we have a hijab wearing Muslim woman elected as Mayor, whereas in nations such as the Netherlands and France you have politicians who actively seek to ban the hijab.

Europe’s first hijab-wearing mayor to take office in Bosnia

VISOKO: A new woman mayor in Bosnia who is the first in her country and the continent to wear the hijab headscarf, said on Tuesday her election was “a model for Europe and Islam.”

“This is a great victory of democracy. My fellow citizens showed a great open spirit because they elected me first as a woman but also as a woman who wears a veil,” respecting Islam, said Amra Babic, elected Sunday in the town of Visoko.

“This is a model for Europe but even beyond, for the East and the West which meet here in Bosnia,” she told AFP at the local branch of her party, still plastered with her campaign posters.

Babic, 43, who regularly wears the hijab, won 30 percent of the votes in the mayoral race in Visoko, a town of some 40,000 people near the capital of Sarajevo.

Two days after the vote, Babic, wearing a scarf covering her hair, ears and neck, was busy receiving by telephone congratulations for her victory. Others were coming in to bring her bouquets of flowers.

“Islam is very clear regarding the woman. It reserves for her a place in the public life and all those who interpret it correct know that this is the way it is,” said Babic, who belongs to Bosnia’s main Muslin party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA).

However, she is confident that the place for her country is “among modern European states.”

“I believe that my headscarf should not be a hindrance…. Europe will understand that it has to do with people who respect their own identity, but who are tolerant enough to respect the rights of others,” she said.

Babic, a mother of three and an economist, served as finance minister in the central canton of Zenica prior to running for mayor.

Muslims are the biggest religious group in Bosnia, making up some 40 percent of its 3.8 million population. Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs account for 31 percent while the traditionally Roman Catholic Croats represent 10 percent.

Bosnian Muslims are Sunni Hanafi and mostly supporters of a moderate Islam, introduced in the Balkans in the 15th century by the Ottomans.

The hijab was banned under communism when Bosnia was part of the federal Yugoslavia from 1945 until the early 1990s. A number of Muslims in Bosnian nowadays wear the hijab, although most women do not cover their heads.

“I will never abuse politics for religion. If I have the strength to protect my own rights, I will find the strength to protect the rights of others,” she said.

Having lost her husband in the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia, Babic has for years led an association of families of Muslim fighters killed in the conflict.

“I put on the veil after my husband’s death,” she recalls, adding that the religion had helped her to overcome the loss.

“My religion tells me that everything that happens is God’s will. It helped me to concentrate my energy and survive. My sons are my greatest motivation,” she said.

Original post:

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

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  • RDS

    Alright then, all’s well. (´・ω・`)

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    @mindy,

    I was a little confused about your comment and I asked you – you answered and that was the end of it for me until all the others came along and this issue got rehashed. Not a peep from me now!

  • mindy1

    I wasn’t trying to start anything, I just keep an eye out for articles that I think this site could give an interesting perspective on-that was my only intent :(

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    @RDS,

    I can be chilled and still express opinions :)

  • RDS

    @AJ: Mindy’s just posting a news. Did you know that no less of Pakistan’s 150 clerics issued a fatwa condemning the Taliban for their brazen act of attempt of assassination of a 14 year old girl?

    I’d like LW to do a cover on this as well. The reaction from Pakistan’s clerical authority has been swift and, shall I say, contrary to what Loons would expect. The girl, accoridng to Wikipedia, has been transferred to England for treatment. Say what you will for her only being famous because of her blog with BBC as well as the general fishiness of her having a blog at the tender age of 11 at the time, but the point stands.

    Also this has nothing to do with this article; if others can post news alerts so LW can do a coverage for it later in nearly any articles, then so can Mindy.

    Peace out, and don’t forget your internet chill pill today.

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    “Yes but everything needs to be put into perspective. One can take a tribal route and try to evade responsibility by blaming everything or one can take the route of justice and introspection and try to improve oneself. The tribal excuse offers no moral clarity and in my view is an antithesis of the message of Islam.”

    Come on Aiman! No one is trying to evade responsibility here. If you need to point out how bad AlQaeda is or the Taliban is (that is what the media does anyway 24/7) there are many others venues to point that out rather than raining on the parade of Babic. On a side note, why are all the Muslims complicit in the crimes of AlQaeda? Why is that if Al-Qaeda blows up someone, Babic can’t feel proud of being a hijab wearing mayor? We don’t know even know who constitutes this shady anonymous organization so at least I, do not, feel responsible for these creatures. But that’s beside the point here. Perhaps Mindy did it unconsciously but I found it rather propagandic. Sorry!

  • aiman

    @AJ “There is violence against women in many cultures, many religions and many countries. I didn’t understand your motive bringing this news up over here.”

    Yes but everything needs to be put into perspective. One can take a tribal route and try to evade responsibility by blaming everything or one can take the route of justice and introspection and try to improve oneself. The tribal excuse offers no moral clarity and in my view is an antithesis of the message of Islam.

  • aiman

    @Mindy Excellent point, both of these have to be contrasted. I agree with you as a Muslim concerned about human rights abuses. Very well said.

  • DrM

    @AJ,

    I think “pip power” has a fetish. His verbal diarrhea about burqas is laughable. Sounds to me like he wants to wear one. Focus on what some Muslim women wear while wealthy white men in shiny suits rob and plunder the world in plain sight. Pip wouldn’t need to wear a burqa if he decided to steal. I bet he could hide a pair of Nike’s(with box) in the same place he gets his “arguments from, his behind.
    Another member of the “Cheetos-Eating in My Mom’s Basement While Salivating to Internet Porn Institute for the Defense of America, Free Enterprise, and “Western Civilization.””

  • Franczeska

    @”Pip Power”: Or perhaps the thieves could just keep wearing the hoodies that so many of them already do.

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    @Pip Power,

    We have an internist by the name of DrM here. He might be able to diagnose your condition. I strongly suggest you schedule an online session with him.

  • Pip Power

    “There is violence against women in many cultures, many religions and many countries. I didn’t understand your motive bringing this news up over here”.

    THERE IS AS MUCH VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN IN MANY CULTURES.

    DO YOU THINK I WOULD LOOK NICE IN A HIJAB OR BURQA.

    I THINK THIEVES SHOULD START WEARING THE BURQA & GOING INTO SHOPS. THEY COULD HAVE A MIDGET HIDDEN UNDERNEATH & SLITS IN THE BURQA, SO HE CAN STEAL WITHOUT BEING DETECTED.

    THIS WILL BECOME A GREAT SCAM IN THE FUTURE.

    THE OWNERS WILL BE AFRAID TO STOP & SEARCH THE BURQA WEARING PERSON.

    COME ON LADS – THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER, WITH YOUR BURQA.

  • Amira

    I am a Bosnian Muslim and can say that the reason this story has made such news is that: Muslim believers, or people who have reverted back to Islam, in Bosnian have been facing discrimination in their own homeland. Bosnia has Muslim female politicians, judges, lawyers, teachers, etc. The social and political role of a Muslim woman in Bosnia has always been part of what Bosnia has been. The difference between all those women who are in powerful professions and this sister is that she is a practicing Muslim, she proudly wears her hijab and people like her for who she is.

  • Sam Seed

    I can already sense the hatred in the Euro fascists’ eyes. Bravo to you sister may Allah be with you.

  • mindy1

    @AJ, I brought it up to contrast this woman, who is smart and educated and trying to make things better for people, with those who are trying to oppress those like her-I was not trying to insult the Muslim faith, but to highlight the fact that there are those who claim to follow it, but in reality do not do so.

  • http://Aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    I think victory of hijab wearing Babic is very good news but looking at the statistics of Bosnia where the population is primarily Muslim, I would expect that this should happen. This news doesn’t translate to: non-Muslims like Muslims but that Muslims have become sane enough to start acting like Muslims. The closest analogy to this news would be Jews in Israel celebrating the election of someone wearing a yarmulke.

  • http://Aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    @Mindy,

    There is violence against women in many cultures, many religions and many countries. I didn’t understand your motive bringing this news up over here.

  • mindy1

    I wish her luck in her job :D On a sadder note, in Pakistan a 14 year old girl was shot because she was advocating education for girls, and some Taliban a-holes shot her :(

    http://news.yahoo.com/shooting-pakistan-girl-activist-sparks-outrage-105617338.html

  • rookie

    Mashallah!!

    “I believe that my headscarf should not be a hindrance…

    Jos kako ce biti sestro, zelim ti sve najbolje, budi jaka…

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