News 26 Feb 15

War-Battered Bosnian Mosque to be Rebuilt

The 16th century Emperor’s Mosque in the town of Foca, which was badly damaged by Bosnian Serb forces during the war in 1992, is to be reconstructed.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo

The Federation donation is handed over in Foca.

Photo: Sarajevo Municipality Center.

The Bosnian Federation Ministry of Culture has awarded a grant of 25,000 euro for the reconstruction of the Ottoman-era mosque in Bosnia’s Serb-controlled entity, Republika Srpska, which was burned and its minaret dynamited in April 1992.

The remains of the Mosque of Sultan Bajazid II Valija, better known as the Emperor’s Mosque, were declared a national monument by Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004.

The initiative was proposed by the Eastern Bosnia NGO, which said that the reconstruction of Muslim places of worship was important if Bosniaks returning to Republika Srpska after fleeing during the war were to feel welcome there.

“We believe that the reconstruction of mosques is vital for the needs of returnees to eastern Bosnia, because it is important for their identity,” said Sacir Hrustemovic, the secretary of the NGO, which also collected 11,000 euro at a fundraising dinner last year.

The money was received by the mufti of Gorazde, Remzija Pitic, who said that there were now almost enough funds for the completion of the reconstruction work that began in 2012.

“The most important thing is for people to come together for the common good and to work together on the thing which has created our culture, history and identity for centuries,” said Pitic.

The Emperor’s Mosque was the biggest in Foca. During the Ottoman period, 17 mosques were built in the town. Five of them were destroyed during World War II, and the others during the 1992-95 conflict.

At the war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic in The Hague, expert Andras Riedlmayer testified in 2011 that 226 out of the 239 mosques he had visited in 23 Bosnian Serb-led municipalities had been either destroyed or severely damaged.

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