An elementary school teacher in a Serbian town with a large Muslim population failed to play the national anthem on the first day of school as instructed by the Education Ministry and drew criticism from the minister and president.
Education Minister Branko Ruzic said that the behavior of the teacher in the city of Novi Pazar who played the informal anthem of the Muslim population in the Sandzak region was a scandal. He said that the teacher disrespected the state, its symbols and everything that the state provided to its citizens. The Education Ministry instructed schools to play the Serbian national anthem Boze Pravde (Justice God – with its lyrics calling God to protect the Serbian people) at the start of the school year in all classes.
A ministry press release quoted Ruzic as saying that inspectors would go to the school to investigate and determine who was responsible. The minister said that Serbia provides a high level of equality and rights to all national minorities in terms of their language, culture and education.
President Aleksandar Vucic echoed the minister’s words, saying the incident was a disgrace, adding that social groups, politician and the media should not offend the anthem and flag which represent the unity of the country.
Commenting the decision by the Bosniak National Council to not recognize the national anthem as the state hymn, Vucic called for unity “especially in places where we are under pressure and expecting even more pressure on the survival of our country’s integrity”. “I am calling everyone to unite and put our differences aside and stand with our national anthem,” Vucic said in an Instagram post.
Vucic said that democracy does not mean only majority rule but also respect for the right of minorities to different opinions.