America not an enemy of Islam, Muslim Clerc Says

A moderate European Muslim leader – in Seattle this weekend to attend the annual conference of the Congress of North American Bosniaks – drew upon a deep affection for the United States before cautioning Americans, “Don’t cease to believe that you are good.” The gentle warning from Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric – the supreme Islamic cleric for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia – followed the second day of meetings of the Bosniak congress attended by about 1,000 people from around the continent. About 7,000 Bosniaks came to the Seattle area after genocidal violence that ripped the former Yugoslavian province in the 1990s. Several dignitaries, including Haris Silajdzic, Bosniak member of the three-person Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency, attended the meetings, which are being held on the West Coast for the first time. In a private interview Sunday, Ceric said he believes it is his responsibility as a leading Islamic cleric and “friend and partner” of the United States to get out the word to Muslim people around the world that America is not an enemy of Islam. “America did not come to Bosnia because of oil,” Ceric said of the U.S. intervention in 1995. “America came because of the great American ideals of human rights and peace and security in the world. Your coming to Bosnia proves that America did not lose the ideals of freedom and human rights.” That said, Ceric made clear that he believes American foreign policy has lost its moral compass, citing actions taken at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. “We Bosnian Muslims need America in Bosnia and America needs us Bosnian Muslims to get the message across that American policy towards Bosnia has been positive and affirmative,” he said.