“Sarajevo Message”: Bosnian Grand Mufti expresses support for Swiss values

FSPC President Gottfried Locher has visited Sarajevo upon the invitation of the leader of the Bosnian Muslims. With the Bosnian President in attendance, the two religious leaders signed a common declaration. In the “Sarajevo Message”, Bosnian Muslims expressed their support for democracy, equality, and rule of law, in accord-ance with the Swiss model. With this, the FSPC President is ensured support for fu-ture cooperation in Switzerland.
From left to right: Gottfried Locher, president of FSPC, Bakir Izetbegović, bosnian president and Grand Mufti Husein Kavazović

In the presence of the Bosnian President, Bakir Izetbegovic, FSPC President Gottfried Locher and Grand Mufti Husein Kavazovic, religious leader of Bosnian Muslims at home and abroad, signed a document on May 12 in Sarajevo, in which Muslims expressed their support for Swiss values. The document explicitly mentions that all people must be free to choose their religion, and it expressly condemns religiously motivated terrorism as occurs in the respective religions.

Locher’s visit was met with great interest in the Bosnian media. Kavazovic stressed that Bosnian Muslims felt a belonging to Europe and expressed his concern about the increasing influence of the Gulf States there. Their relationship with the EU and Switzerland, he added, needed to be improved. Locher was impressed by the academic program for ongoing imams at the Islamic Faculty of Sarajevo: “This European, intellectually reflective Islam can be a partner for us Reformed Christians in Switzerland.” The FSPC President proposed a symposium of Reformed pastors and Bosnian imams in Switzerland for next year.

Locher also visited the permanent exhibition on the Srebrenica Genocide. The war crime, perpetrated in July 1995, cost over 8000 Bosnian Muslims their lives. The tension between the different ethnic groups remains palpable today and continues to pose a threat to national unity. For that reason, the FSPC President was all the more impressed by the work of the interreligious council there. Representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox churches as well as Jewish and Muslim communities discussed their projects, which serve to promote meetings, learning, and reconciliation. As Locher expressed it in a conversation with the Swiss ambassador to Bosnia Herzegovina, Andrea Rauber: “The religious communities here have achieved something that politicians have apparently not been able to do. The dialogue here among the religions directly contributes to the political peace. Muslims and Christians are in a serious dialogue here with one another. There is no alternative to this conversation, not in Bosnia and not in Switzerland.”

Document „Sarajevo Message“
Interview with Gottfried Locher
(reformiert. - in German)
Command from Sarajevo (NZZ - in German)