Mosque to reopen in Bosnian Serb town

Thousands of Bosnian Muslims converged on the Serb-dominated town of Banja Luka on Saturday to attend a ceremony to mark the rebuilding of a mosque destroyed during the civil war.

    An earlier attempt to rebuild the ancient mosque angered Serb nationalists (June 2001)

    It was the first mosque to be rebuilt in the town and organisers expect between 3000 to 7000 people to attend the inauguration.

    The town was the scene of ethnic cleansing during the 1992-1995 conflict when 

    Bosnian Muslims and Croats were forced to leave their homes by Serb forces.

    The reconstruction of the mosque "is important for the reconciliation process and for cohabitation between Bosnian communities, said Ahmet Cavka, a Banja Luka Muslim leader.

     

    Security was tight in an attempt to prevent the kind of violence that has marred previous mosque rebuilding ceremonies.

    In May 2001 the Islamic community's efforts to lay a cornerstone for rebuilding the Ferhadija mosque, also in Banja Luka, ended with anti-Muslim riots that left one person dead and about 30 injured.

    The cornerstone was laid the following month, although anti-Muslim riots again broke out.

     

    No Bosnian Serb official was present at Saturday's inauguration.

     

    The Muslim community in the town says all 16 mosques that previously stood there were destroyed.

     

    In all, 106 mosques were reduced to rubble in what is today Republika Srpska, RS during the four-year conflict.

     

    The RS, along with the Muslim-Croat federation are two semi-autonomous enclaves in Bosnia-Hercegovina that were created following the Dayton peace accords.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.