A historic mosque in Bosnia’s Serb region that was destroyed in the war has reopened in a ceremony encouraging religious tolerance among divided communities

A devastating war between Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats just over 20 years ago left the mosque in the city of Banja Luka in ruins. Today, Bosnia remains split along ethnic lines, but many see the return of worshippers to the rebuilt Ferhadija mosque as a symbol of hope and reconciliation.

Turkey’s outgoing prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu reopened the mosque in front of a crowd of about 8,000 people.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is one body, one heart

“Bosnia-Herzegovina, with its Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox and Jews, is one body, one heart. If there is any attempt to split it up, it means that this one heart would be split,” he said.

It is thought that the mosque was destroyed by Bosnian Serbs in a bid to eradicate Muslim heritage from the city. It was levelled in 1993, on 7 May, a day now known as the day of the Mosques. Bosnia lost 614 mosues during the 1992 – 1995 war.

Photo: Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

  • bob cannell

    This was not a ‘war’ as if there was a three or four way disagreement. Bosnia was attacked by the Croats and Serbs who also armed and encouraged the Serbian separatists inside Bosnia. Croatia (which was a neo-fascist state then) and Serbia tried to eliminate multi-ethnic Bosnia. This like saying there was a ‘war’ between Germany and Poland in 1939. Bosnia had to fight for its very existence knowing that its enemies intended ‘a final solution’ for Muslim Bosnians.