Balkan Imams Take Counter-Extremism Struggle Online

Source: Balkan In sight

We are not terrorists and we love to share baklava [Turkish dessert] with our neighbours,” says one of the messages posted on Facebook by a Belgrade mufti called Mustafa Jusufspahic. Jusufspahic is among the few religious leaders in Serbia who use social media to communicate with his followers. “God gave us to each other so we would know each other, not make war,” Jusufspahic said in the caption of a photo on Twitter of himself holding hands with a Catholic and an Orthodox Christian priest. The Balkans have been a melting pot of various religions for centuries and until recently, most religious leaders used the old-fashioned ways to communicate their beliefs – through sermons at their churches, synagogues and mosques.But after the authorities in many Balkan states put dozens of self-proclaimed imams behind bars for spreading violence online and inciting terrorism, imams from the official, state-approved Islamic communities have decided to join Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to get their message across.

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