Bosniaks of Serbia
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Predominantly Sunni Islam
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Bosniaks are the fourth largest ethnic group in Serbia after Serbs, Hungarians and Roma, numbering 145,278 or 2.02% of the population according to the 2011 census. They are concentrated in south-western Serbia, and their cultural and political centre is Novi Pazar. The Bosniaks are predominantly Muslims.
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Bosniaks primarily live in south-western Serbia, in the region historically known as Sandžak, which is today divided between the states of Serbia and Montenegro. Colloquially referred to as Sandžaklije by themselves and others, Bosniaks form the majority in three out of six municipalities in the Serbian part of Sandžak: Novi Pazar (76.28%), Tutin (94.23%) and Sjenica (73.34%) and comprise an overall majority of 57%. The town of Novi Pazar is a cultural and political center of the Bosniaks in Serbia. Many Bosniaks from the Sandžak area left after the fall of the Ottoman Empire to continental Turkey. Over the years a large number of Bosniaks from the Sandžak region left to other countries, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Germany, Sweden, United States, Canada, Australia etc. Today, many Bosniaks have retained their identity and culture.
Two thirds of Sandžak Bosniaks trace their ancestry to the regions of Montenegro proper, which they started departing first in 1687, after Turkey lost Boka Kotorska. The trend continued in Old Montenegro after 1711 with the extermination of alleged converts to Islam (“istraga poturica”). Another contributing factor that spurred migration to Sandžak from the Old Montenegro was the fact that the old Orthodox population of Sandžak moved towards Serbia and Habsburg Monarchy (Vojvodina) in two waves, first after 1687, and then, after 1740, basically leaving Sandžak depopulated. The advance of increasingly stronger ethnic Serbs of Montenegro caused additional resettlements out of Montenegro proper in 1858 and 1878, when, upon Treaty of Berlin, Montenegro was recognized as an independent state. While only 20 Bosniak families remained in Nikšić after 1878, the towns like Kolašin, Spuž, Grahovo, and others, completely lost their Bosniak population.
The last segment of Sandžak Bosniaks arrived from a couple of other places. Some Bosniaks came from Slavonia after 1687, when Turkey lost all the lands north of Sava in the Austro-Turkish war. Many more came from Herzegovina in the post-1876 period, after the Herzegovina Rebellion staged by the Serbs against Austro-Hungary and their Muslim subjects. Another wave followed immediately thereafter from both Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the Treaty of Berlin placed the Vilayet of Bosnia under the effective control of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The last wave from Bosnia followed in 1908, when Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia, thereby cutting off all direct ties of Bosnian Muslims to the Sublime Porte, their effective protector.
The main Bosniak party in Bosniak dominated areas in the Balkans is the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Party. The SDA Party originated in Bosnia and Herzegovina but has other affiliated parties in Croatia, Serbia (Sandžak), Kosovo, and the United States. In the Sandžak region two main parties that represents the Bosniak population are Party of Democratic Action of Sandžak led by Sulejman Ugljanin and Sandžak Democratic Party led by Rasim Ljajić. Other parties that represents the Bosniak population include Social Liberal Party of Sandžak led by Bajram Omeragić, Bosniak Democratic Party of Sandžak of Esad Džudžević, Reformist Party of Sandžak of Zekirija Dugopoljac, Nail Džemić's Social Democratic Party of Sandžak and Fevzija Murić's Party for Sandžak (modeled after the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina). There are also tiny parties such as the Bosniac Democrat Alliance and the National Movement of Sandžak.
Dr Sulejman Ugljanin has gathered a large Coalition under the flag of SDA (together with BDSS, the Social Democrats, the Reformists and the Social Liberals) – "List for Sandžak", that ran on the 21s January 2007 parliamentary election. The opposing SDP will go on the list of Boris Tadić's Democratic Party, which is supported by the Party for Sandžak.
As per the election results published by the RIK, the List for Sandžak won 33,823 votes and 2 seats within the parliament. According to the agreement, the two previous MPs, Bajram Omeragić (SLPS) and Esad Džudžević (BDSS) will keep the posts). LzS announced that they will support a government of the so-called democratic bloc, and formed a List together with the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians in the National Assembly of Serbia, whose Vice-President is Esad Džudžević.
After the Democratic Party won almost million votes, Ljajić's SDP got 3 of its 64 seats within the National Assembly of Serbia as per the agreement (Mustafa Muković, Munir Poturak and Mehmed Omerović). SDP will receive one Ministry and hold three deputy ministers in the new Serbian government, as well as control embassies to the Islamic world.
See also