Bosnian security minister Dragan Mektić said that the claim of Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz about Muslim women in Sarajevo and Priština being paid to wear veil in public was “a political statement, made in the context of the election campaign in Austria”.
“We have no knowledge about such payments being made and we will ask Austrian security agencies to share such information if they have it, because we assume that it was not an empty statement and that it was based on facts of some kind,” said minister Mektić.
“If that is true, then there is the question of where that money comes from and who brings it here.”
Speaking to a German newspaper earlier this week, Austrian foreign minister warned of the growing influence of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the Balkans.
“In Sarajevo and Priština (Kosovo), for example, women are paid to wear the full veil in public,” Sebastian Kurz told Handelsblatt Global.
The claim was widely criticized in Bosnia. Bosnian Islamic Community called it “inappropriate”. The Community’s top body said in a press release that it had no knowledge about Bosnian Muslim women being paid to dress according to Islamic rules and added that the freedom of clothing style choice is the right of every individual.
“We consider minister Kurz’s view that the EU institutions should invest more attention in the Western Balkans to be well-intentioned and we understand his concerns about the current situation, but we don’t think he picked the right example to demonstrate it,” the Islamic Community said.