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Bosnian Grand Mufti's Office Distances Itself From Anti-Gay Remarks By Sarajevo Imam

Sarajevo's first LGBT pride parade was held in September 2019.
Sarajevo's first LGBT pride parade was held in September 2019.

The office of the grand mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina has distanced itself from controversial remarks made by the imam of a mosque in Sarajevo that sparked outrage on social media and elsewhere.

Muhamed Velic in a Facebook post on August 6 welcomed the cancellation of an upcoming gay-pride parade in Sarajevo due to coronavirus restrictions.

The parade was due to be held on August 23.

"In every misfortune and tragedy -- there is also a grain of happiness, goodness and beauty," Velic wrote, sparking a public outcry.

The office of the grand mufti told RFE/RL on August 10 that the imam's remarks did not reflect the position of the Islamic community in Bosnia.

"This is his personal position and it is not the position of the entire Islamic community," said Muhamed Jusic, an adviser to the grand mufti.

Velic defended his remarks to RFE/RL, saying he did not "spread hate speech," and that he had the right to express his opinion.

The Bosnian capital held its first-ever gay-pride event amid heavy security on September 8, 2019. The event was dubbed "Ima Izac!" which roughly translates as "Coming out."

Dozens of followers of a conservative Islamic group held a rally against the event, describing the pride march as a "sin" and "humiliation" for Sarajevo.

Another protesting group, Svjetlost (Light), marched the day before the gay-pride event, calling on people to rally against "un-values propagated by the LGBT community."

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