The Mustafa Busuladzic Elementary School in Sarajevo hit back at criticism of its new name on Thursday, saying that Israel “has no right to give moral lessons to others” because of the building of Jewish settlements”.

The Israeli embassy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, headquartered in the Albanian capital, Tirana, sent Bosnia’s foreign minister a protest note on August 23 about the decision to rename the Dobrosevici Elementary School in Sarajevo after the “controversial and antisemitic” Second World War-era writer and fighter Mustafa Busuladzic.

“The Embassy of Israel reiterates its sincere regret that the authorities of Sarajevo Canton approved such a move especially considering the fact that the vast majority of the Bosnian Jewish community was brutally killed by the hand of the fascist and Nazi occupying forces with which Mr Bursuladzic identified himself,” the embassy said in the note.

But the school rejected the criticism.

“Multi-ethnic Sarajevo, which you mention in your letter, is multi-ethnic because of Mustafa Busuladzic, and other Muslims who, with their tolerant attitude towards others, made this city multi-ethnic,” its letter said.

“Busuladzic was not an antisemite; as an intellectual, he was speaking about poor Jewish qualities, but also about other, non-Jewish merchants, who were speculating on overpricing. The current situation in the world, where similar banking practices are causing an economic crisis, shows that Mustafa was right,” it added.

Busuladzic is a controversial figure in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with some people seeing him as a martyr and a victim of the Yugoslav Communist regime, while others point out that he was a prominent associate of the Croatian fascist-allied Ustasa occupying forces during the Second World War, and that his written opinions often reflected Nazi ideas.