Muamer Zukorlic’s efforts to consolidate his power in Sandzak sometimes created turbulence.

During his tenure as mufti of the Islamic Community in Serbia, the official body representing the interests of the country’s Muslims, the organization split in 2007.

Two rival organisations emerged from the split, with the similarly-named Islamic Community of Serbia advocating greater independence from the Islamic Community of Bosnia in Sarajevo, while Zukorlic’s Islamic Community in Serbia stayed largely loyal to Bosnia.

The struggle for power in Sandzak sometimes turned violent; in 2018, dozens of Muamer Zukorlic’s supporters reportedly tried to force their way into the local assembly in Novi Pazar in a show of strength after they lost control over the Bosniak National Council, the body representing Serbia’s Bosniaks, to the rival SDA Sandzak Party.

His renovation and restoration projects for the Islamic heritage of Sandzak also caused controversy.

Experts saw Muamer Zukorlic as being closer to Gulf states than the Bosniaks’ traditional patron, Turkey, unlike many other Bosniak politicians in the region and he was often accused of working with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

The accusation was always rejected, and the SPP told BIRN in January 2021 that the party was definitely not part of Vucic’s government despite the fact that Muamer Zukorlic was elected as the deputy speaker of parliament and his party was given several deputy ministerial positions by Vucic.

But his son appears to be following a different path from his father when it comes to relations with strongman leader Vucic.

“The SPP intends to take part in the formation of the government of the Republic of Serbia,” Usame Zukorlic said, adding that there are areas in which his party agrees and disagrees with Vucic.

“We agreed that we need to work on large infrastructure projects for Sandzak and remove the injustices produced by previous regimes against the Bosniak people,” he explained.

His aims to not end there, however. He said that there has been “a shift of political generations in Sandzak” because people have become impatient with dealing with the same politicians for more than three decades.

“We advocate the entry of Serbia and Montenegro into the European Union, which will open the conditions for the establishment of the cross-border European region of Sandzak, following the example of numerous Euroregions in Europe,” he said, referring to cross-border territorial entities within the EU that enact common policies in areas like the economy, transport and the environment.

“The goal of this project is the economic recovery of Sandzak, one of the poorest regions in the Balkans,” he declared. “Sandzak can be a bridge between states and peoples.”

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