Monday, May 16, 2016

MUSLIM WORLD - Bosnia, Symbol of Reconciliation

"A historic Bosnia mosque is rebuilt in powerful symbol of post-war reconciliation" PBS NewsHour 5/9/2016


SUMMARY:  Twenty years ago, the vicious civil war in Bosnia between Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosnians left more than 100,000 dead, and the country remains segregated along religious and ethnic lines to this day.  Now, both sides are taking steps toward reconciliation with the rebuilding of a historic mosque in Serbian Bosnia, but skepticism abounds.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina remains bitterly divided more than 20 years after a vicious civil war.  Tens of thousands died, and millions were made refugees.

Bosnian Serbs were largely responsible for driving Muslim families from their homes during the early stages of the war.  Now many hope the reopening of a United Nations Heritage Site, a mosque, in the Serbian town of Banja Luka is a big step on the road to reconciliation.

Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has the story.

MALCOLM BRABANT (NewsHour):  The Muslim call to prayer rang out from the 16th Century Ferhadija Mosque 23 years to the day that Serb militiamen blew it to pieces; 10,000 Muslims traveled to Banja Luka to witness this act of renaissance, a generation after the Serbs had attempted to systematically erase not only the population, but also their culture and heritage.

Ibrahim Ahmedbasic lost his legs in one of the worst single attacks of the war.  He was 21 when a Serb mortar exploded in the town of Tuzla, killing 71 and injuring 250.

IBRAHIM AHMEDBASIC, Bosnian Muslim (through interpreter):  When the mosques began to be reconstructed, people started to coexist again.  So you can see, people are capable of living normally.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  The Bosnian War was the most vicious of those that accompanied the break up of former Yugoslavia, largely because of the population’s complicated ethnic and religious mix.  The conflict began in a wave of nationalism in 1992, when the Christian Orthodox Bosnian Serbs attempted a land grab and attacked areas occupied by predominantly Catholic Bosnian Croats and Muslims.

In 1993, the country fragmented still further, when the Croats launched an offensive against the Muslims.  Peace finally arrived in 1995 with a deal signed in Dayton, Ohio.  The accord preserved Bosnia as a single state, but as two separate entities, a Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic; 21 years later, the divisions are as entrenched as ever.

Banja Luka is the capital of the Serb Republic, which makes the restoration of the mosque so symbolic.  It took 15 years to reconstruct.  Craftsmen employed 16th century techniques and recovered 75 percent of the original masonry that had been discarded in city dumps and in nearby lakes.

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