A 73-year-old was among four Muslims attacked by young Serbs in the town of Zvornik while they were on their way to a mosque to pray on the Eid religious holiday.
Seventy-three-year-old Nezir Dardagan suffered facial injuries when three young Serb men attacked the Muslims who were on their way to the mosque in the eastern Bosnian town at around 5am on Thursday, according to witnesses.
Media reported that the three men, who the police identified as Serbs, asked the Muslims to offer them an Orthodox greeting instead of saying ‘salaam’.
Zvornik police said they had arrested a 25-year-old, identified only as ‘R.Z.’, on suspicion that he attacked Dardagan, who is the head of the mosque council in the town.
The head mufti in Zvornik, Mustafa Muharemovic, said that Muslims felt humiliated by the violence.
“People who were heading to the mosque were intercepted, provoked and attacked,” Muharemovic said.
“They were sworn at, and in the end, a man who was the weakest among them was attacked and now feels very bad. His son resisted after he too was attacked,” he said.
The mayor of Zvornik, Zoran Stevanovic, condemned the fact that the attack took place on a Muslim holiday “whatever the motives were”.
But while local media in the Serb-dominated town reported that the incident was simply a fight between the two groups, Muslims expressed concerns that it was another one of many attacks intended to force out Muslims who returned after the 1992-95 war.
Zvornik is one of several formerly Muslim-dominated towns in east Bosnia, along with Bijeljina, Srebrenica and Bratunac, where many were murdered or expelled during the conflict.