In September 2019 academic communities in Europe are facing an important anniversary. One hundred years from the conclusion of the Peace Treaty of Saint Germain, as well as the Minority Protection Treaty attached to this treaty, will be completed. These and related agreements regulated also the position of Muslim minorities in the Balkans, including Muslims in the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS).
The Balkan Wars, and then the First World War, led to the collapse and agony of the Ottoman Empire as a multi-century state framework within which the Muslim communities of the Balkans lived and enjoyed their religious, social, cultural, and other rights and privileges. The end of the First World War affirmed the concept of national self-determination and the national state as the most appropriate model of state building and the development of international relations in Europe, which created numerous problems for minority peoples and communities whose status and position as well as their rights and prospects in the newly emerging countries became vague and questionable. Muslims of the Kingdom of SHS were treated internationally as a religious minority, although the existing interior political decisions and commitments considered Islam one of the three equal religions in the Yugoslav Kingdom.
As it is known, the Kingdom of SHS undertook, due to the Article 10 of the Minority Protection Treaty, to ensure for its Muslim population: the validity of the Muslim law in family and personal status, to take steps to nominate the reisu-l-ulema, to provide protection to mosques, cemeteries and other religious institutions, to provide all necessary facilities and permits to wuquf or charitable institutions that already existed and that it would not deny any benefit necessary for the creation of new religious and charitable institutions.
These obligations had been transfused to varying degrees, relatively slowly, to the internal legislation and policy of the Kingdom of the SHS or Yugoslavia.
A hundred years later, it would be worthwhile to consider and evaluate minority protection for Muslims given by the Saint Germain Minority Protection Treaty in the historical perspective. This would, inter alia, include issues such as:
– Minority protection after the First World War – mechanisms and domains;
– Religion and inter-religious relations in the Balkans between the two world wars;
– The origin, scope and consequences of the provisions on Muslims;
– Implementation of Muslim provisions;
– The attitude of Muslims towards minority protection;
– From minorities to nations in the Balkans;
– Minority protection and its lessons for today’s Muslims in Europe.
The annotation of this anniversary will be in the form of an international scientific conference organized by Institute for the Islamic Tradition of Bosniaks. The conference will be held on September 10, 2019 at the Gazi Husrev-bey Library in Sarajevo. Scientists dealing with political and religious history, the history of international law, Islamic law and institutions, international relations, political scientists and scientists and experts of other profiles will be called to take part in the conference.