Imagine this is your church.
The Ferhadija Mosque, in Banja Luka, Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH) was built in the 16th century. Until May 7, 1993, the mosque served as a center of faith and community for hundreds of Bosnian Muslims in Banja Luka, the second largest city in BiH.
This is your church now.
|This is a photograph of the Ferhadija Mosque I took during the summer of 2001. On May 7, 1993, the mosque was destroyed by Bosnian Serbs who'd been whipped into a frenzy by war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Between April and September of 1993, in an effort to rid their city of Muslims, Bosnian Serbs destroyed every mosque in Banja Luka (16 mosques dating back to medieval Europe). In 1991, there were over 82,000 non-Serbs in Banja Luka. Only 15,000 non-Serbs live there now. During the war, Serbs destroyed numerous mosques and Catholic churches across Bosnia.|
Even in June, 2001, 400 hundred policemen were needed, as security, at the corner stone laying ceremony to begin rebuilding the Ferhadija Mosque. The corner stone was immediately taken away and stored. Only in 2007 did the actual reconstruction begin.
|Six years after the war ended with the Dayton Peace Accords, Sarajevo still smelled of smoke and the Parliament Building still looked like it was about to fall down. |
Muslims, I talked to Banja Luka were sick of the war and the Serbs were tired of being the bad guys.
I worked with Terra, a legal-aid firm helping with property returns thru the Office of the High Representative and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Most of the staff were Bosnian Serbs. I got the sense that many were embarrassed by the actions of their countrymen; that they could be conned into trying to cleanse parts of Bosnia of their Muslim and Croat minorities.
|The arrest of the architect of the of Bosnian war, Radovan Karadzic, is promising signal for the future of this country and its Balkan sisters, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Kosovo. |
Serbianna News Post reports that Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb autonomous region) Prime Minister Milorad Dodik recently said “Radovan Karadzic is not Republika Srpska. It is not his creation but the creation of its people.”
I'm sure the Bosnian Serbs I met are eager to separate themselves from the days of Radovan Karadzic. Hopefully, all of Bosnia is ready to retake its mantel as a home for Muslims, Serbs, and Croats.