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Jew contests prohibition on minorities contesting Bosnian presidency

18 February 2007

Jakob Finci, the leader of Sarajevo’s small Jewish community whose family has lived in the city for over 300 years, has lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights to lift the prohibition on Jews and other minorities running for the Bosnian presidency. Minority Rights Group International is supporting Finci’s application.

Under the country’s post-war constitution, only Bosnian Serbs and Croats, who are overwhelmingly Catholic and Christian Orthodox, respectively, and Bosniaks, who are Muslim, are allowed to run for presidency. Bosnia has three presidents, each representing one of Bosnia’s principal constituent groups.

There is no other case in Europe where Jews are actually prevented from contesting the presidency. The Bosnian constitution is a modern day creation, but de facto reinforces centuries-old discrimination.

There are about 500 Jews living in Bosnia-Herzegovina.