Thoughts on Bosnia

trtworld.com interviews the former Grand Mufti of Bosnia Herzegovina, Mustafa Ceric:

1.  The country is still recovering from the effects of the Bosnian War, a deadly conflict between Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and those of the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat entities in early 1990’s. After enduring the Srebrenica massacre, are Bosnians optimistic?

People who have survived genocide are becoming more cautious and suspicious of the possibility of another genocide.

If you ask the Jewish people if they predict that the holocaust can be repeated, you will never get the answer ‘no’— even though they say “never again.” So after what happens in Bosnia — this “never again”— failed.

But we believe in God; we believe that God will decide in the end.

What we should do is to think and work as if genocide will never occur again, but we must prepare for the possibility of another genocide.

We have to work and we have to live as peace will be forever. But at the same time, we live as though war will happen again.

What are your views of Serbian President-elect Aleksandar Vucic — and his recent win? 

I am worried that all those who denied genocide can do it again. Serbian politicians tell us they are on the side of Bosnia, but we don’t see that.

Vucic is playing politics.

He hasn’t changed, and he’s not done anything to prove that he’s changed. He supported Republika Srpska [the pan-Serbian political group under the Serbian army during the conflict]. He does not admit to the genocide. You cannot reconcile with words, but actions. He tells us sweet words, but we want to see sweet deeds to reconcile.

Throughout the war, you became known for your liberalism and moderation against a rising tide of hatred, inspiring a generation of Bosnians and Muslims abroad. But is multiculturalism and religious diversity in Bosnia and Herzegovina working now?

Bosnia is defined by a spirit of multiculturalism. So if you want to define Bosnia, you say that Bosnia is the land of diversity.

Some say that Bosnia is the land of heretics. But Bosnia has its own identity, which is the core of multiculturalism and multi-faith diversity.

So if you ask me now, if there is a potential tension, I would say that Bosnia is like an ocean. When water is still, it does not move. It’s useful for drinking. But when water is running, it becomes clear, clean and it is drinkable.

Bosnia is like a stream of water that is always dynamic, unpredictable and tense. And this is why it is lovable and unique. In Bosnia, you always have the potential of possible conflict, but at the same time you have the spirit of unity in diversity.

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