Ferhadija waits opening ceremony

Ferhadija waits opening ceremony

Banja Luka, April 8, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

Just a month is left until the opening ceremony of the Ferhat Pasha mosque, better known as Ferhadija, in Banja Luka, but the organizational Board is working with full capacity to ensure that everything pass in the best possible manner.

The Ferhadija mosque is one of the most important religious monuments in BiH, was constructed by Ferhat Pasha Sokolovic in 1579 and was enlisted on the UNESCO list of “zero category monuments”. But, during night May 7, 1992, a group of Serb extreme nationalists set a large amount of explosive on Ferhadija walls and the whole building disappeared in the explosion. The same night, more than 10 mosques in Banja Luka were destroyed in the same way. Ferhadija debris were transported to the junkyard. The place where Ferhadija was staying for centuries was rebuilded as a parking place.

But in 2001 the Islamic community in BiH received all necessary documents to start the reconstruction of this monument. At the ceremony of laying the foundation stone, May 7, 2001, a large group of Serb nationalists attacked the people gathered on the ceremony, set several buses on fire and stoned one man to the death. Works were stopped, but soon the Islamic community continued them with financial problems. The breakpoint of reconstruction was the contract between Islamic community and turkish organization TIKA, which financed all remaining works.

In order to prevent the similar events as when works begun, members of organizational board held a meeting with RS Minister of Interior, Dragan Lukac, to discuss the security aspects of the ceremony, since a lot of foreign diplomats were called to participate. Among them are Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu, presidents of states in region and representatives of states which participate in the reconstruction. After the meeting, minister Lukac said to the media that the meeting conclusion is that everybody must give the best to send a nice picture from Banja Luka, which will represent it as prosperous, multi ethnical place, nice for living.

“We have to send the message of the peace, tolerance and coexistence in order to show that Banja Luka is the place where people can live”, Lukac stressed.

Banja Luka imam, Osman Kozlic, said that his wish is to gather representatives of all religions which exist in BiH and to show that this city is above of those who destroyed Ferhadija during the war. To all those who want to participate in the ceremony, Islamic community will send the message that the transparents, flags or clothes which can insult somebody, will be forbidden.

Apart from with official part of ceremony, many other events will be organized in Banja Luka before the opening of Ferhadija. One of the most important, as Kozlic said, is the promotion of the reprint of Quran translation in Serbian language, written with cyrillic letters. Translator, Mico Ljubibratic, made the first translation of this book in the Balkan countries 120 years ago and it is the first and only one in cyrillic.

“It will be a magnificent promotion and we want to emphasize that Ljubibratic is not exclusively a Serb translator, but also our Muslim translator. Also we want to point out that Cyrillic alphabet doesn’t belong to Serbs only, but rather that it is the heritage of all nations in BiH”, Kozlic pointed out.

He also said that the presence of BiH politicians is already confirmed but not the presence of foreign delegations. The Islamic community in BiH sent invitation letters to all regional governments and religious communities.

(Photo by Mladen Dragojlovic: Minister Lukac and Osman Kozlic after the meeting… RS police director, Gojko Vasic, and RS vice president Ramiz Salkic are also present in the press conference.)