Islamic Leader’s Abrupt Dismissal Baffles North Macedonia

The sudden exit of Sulejman Rexhepi, the long-standing and often provocative head of the country’s second largest religious community, has left important questions unanswered.

Several days after the Rijaset, the executive body of the Islamic Religious Community, IVZ, in North Macedonia, dismissed its long-standing and controversial leader, Sulejman Rexhepi, the public is still perplexed by the abrupt move and wondering what the exact reason behind his sacking was.

Many, including Muslim believers, are pondering whether the move reflects a genuine twist inside the IVZ, which has long been prone to controversies, or whether it was a carefully planned ruse designed only to create a superficial impression of change.

The Rijaset last Wednesday released only a short statement in which it said that a two-thirds majority of its members had voted to dismiss Rexhepi. But the IVZ’s Skopje HQ, whose offices are closed until Monday due to Ramadan, did not comment.

Rexhepi’s own unusual silence for three days following his dismissal on Wednesday only added to the speculation.

One way or the other, some say a leadership change is nevertheless to be welcomed and may lead the IVZ into calmer waters, after years of accumulating problems and power struggles under its tough but often provocative ex-leader.

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