The Embassy of Israel in Tirana sent a protest note to the Bosnian foreign ministry over a recent decision of Sarajevo local authorities to rename an elementary school after a “controversial and anti-Semitic figure”.
The Embassy said it regretted that the Sarajevo Canton authorities okayed an initiative to rename a school after Mustafa Busuladžić, who “identified himself” with the WW2 Nazi occupiers in Sarajevo that nearly wiped out the city’s Jewish community.
Busuladžić, a Bosnian Muslim scholar executed by communist authorities in 1945, is seen by some Bosniaks as a martyr and a victim of the communist regime, while others emphasize his work as a collaborator of the Croatian Nazi-allied authorities of the time.
“Such an unfortunate act clearly undermines the rich multiethnic and cosmopolitan spirit of which Sarajevo, and its Jewish community, is very proud,” the Embassy said in the note.
In October 2016, the Bosniak majority in Sarajevo Canton Assembly voted to approve an initiative to rename the elementary school in Dobroševići part of the city after Mustafa Busuladžić. The opposition protested the decision. The initiative was rejected, but the majority in the Assembly eventually succeeded with adopting it.
Before WW2, Sarajevo’s vibrant Jewish community accounted for one fifth of the city’s population. Following the Nazi occupation in 1941, nearly all of the city’s Jews were deported to death camps, where most of them perished.
“(Jews) have disappeared from the town, but the Jewish spirit of speculation, fraud, overpricing (…) and loansharking lingers in the town, to such an extent that the corruption of some traders, no matter their religion, dwarfs the work of gone Jews,” Busuladžić wrote in WW2 Sarajevo.