Written by: Nia S. Amira, an Indonesian author, journalist, and linguist. She writes on culture, international affairs, multiculturalism and religious studies. Her articles have appeared in over thirty media, published in Europe, Asia, and the US.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the heart shaped land that lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern of Europe, a former Republic of the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia. An area with only 51,233 km2, a little wider than East Java Province in Indonesia. Bosnia is always part of the history of Yugoslavia which was established in 1918. Muslim becomes the majority population (40%) in the land of 1,149 mosque, but no religion becomes dominant in Bosnia Herzegovina. It is in Bosnia where eastern and western civilizations met, in some times clashes, but more often enriched and reinforced each other in one chaines throughout its very long and fascinating history since centuries.
Bosnia name is derived from bosana, an old Indo-European word meaning water, which Bosnia is abundant of. Three main people lives in this multi-religious land: Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs. Traditions and culture are more similar from one to another, despite their different religious/ethnic background of their language.
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It was in 1914, where the city witnessed the murder of Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian crown prince, and 70 years later in 1984 Sarajevo gained its positive history as the organizer of Annual Winter Olympics. In 1992, Sarajevo and some other cities in the country became the battleground inter-ethnics who fought over the city when Yugoslavia broke out as a state and the war took innocent civilians, especially from the Bosnian Muslim.
Sanski Most, with a pre-war population of about 60,000 in the town and outlying villages, already was well-known to human rights investigators and aid workers. Through his own eyes, Abaz tries to describe the tragedy during the war in that spring of 1992 when Muslim population and the Croats endured some of the worst inhumane acts at the hands of the country’s well-armed Serbian rebels.
It was in Sanski that the Serbs first made their policy of “ethnic cleansing”, first by taking or rounding up for detention the Muslims and Croats known as political leaders and intellectuals, then forced the men for military service simply because they were at their right age. Along the way, thousands of Muslim and Croatian women were treated very inhumanely.
It was really a nightmare for the civilians and one of the victims was Abaz Besic (52). He is originally from Sanski Most, a city in Una Sana Kanton, about 169 km from the capital Sarajevo. Abaz was 27 years old that time and he was in the war against the Serbian army and with other Bosnian Muslim, he was captured and taken into Konzentrazions Lager Manjaca nearby Banja Luka for 211 days. On December 4th, 1992 he was released by the help of the International Red Cross and brought to Switzerland as refugee.
Abaz was born in Sanski Most, a city in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located on the Sana River in Bosanska krajina, between Prijedor and Kljuc. It is administratively part of Una-Sana Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Abaz flashes back the history of his home town. In 1878 the little town of Sanski Most was described as Muslim city by Croatian historian Vjekoslav Klaic. From 1929 to 1941, Sanski Most was part of the Vrbas Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and was part of the Axis Independent State of Croatia during the World War II. The middle age man who loves arts and culture prefers to talk about the history of some important Islamic monuments in Sanski Most rather than returns to the nightmare of his beautiful homeland.
About 500 years ago, the Ottoman had arrived in Balkan, Mehmed II is commonly known as Muhammad al-Fatih the Conqueror (Sultan Mehmet Fatih), was an Ottoman Sultan who ruled first for a short time from August 1444 to September 1446, then later from February 1451 to May 1481. At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople (now is Istanbul) and brought an end to the Byzantine Empire. Mehmed continued his conquests in Anatolia with its reunification and in Southeast Europe as far west as Bosnia. After some battles during the 15th century, Bosnia fell in 1463 and became tributary kingdom of the westernmost province to the Ottoman and Mehmed is considered a hero in his homeland and parts of the wider Muslim world.
Sanski Most is a tiny calm city with total area of 781 km2 and for its 50.421 inhabitants according to the last Census in 2014 is home to many different types of stores, cafes that serve you with tasty Bosnian Cevapivivi a traditional grilled Bosnian sandwich or kebab looks filled with beef meat and garnished with lettuce and tomato. Bosniaks dominate the city and about 95% are Muslim.
The 18th of May, 2018, becomes the celebration of the 103rd anniversary of the crucial battle for the survival of the Turkish people in Sanski Most. Battle of Canakkale was celebrated at the site of the monument to Turkish Shekhids in Donji Kamengrad near Sanski Most, one of the most important places in the history of Turkey. Sultan Mehmed Fatih as the ruler of Ottoman in that period considered as the respectful man who had come to hike to Bosnia to spread Islam by the means of all the lands he had conquered and Sanski Most, was traditionally as the city that had close relations with the Turkish. The Battle of Canakkale, is the Day of the Shekhids and a large number of thousands of Bosniaks di Sanski Most who had participated in this battle had laid their lives.
The history of 500 years in the past is still alive in the memory of every citizen in Sanski Most, for mutual relations with the Turkish in particular and with the Muslim community in the world for the future historical tourism projects of the remaining monument of Sultan Mehmed Fatih. Three oldest mosques built by the Ottoman of the 1,149 mosques throughout Bosnia were built in Sanski namely; Dzamija Sultana Mehmed built in 1463, Hamza-begova dzamija built in 1557 that was destroyed during the war in 1992 and reopened in 2000 after the restoration, and the third one is Trnova Mosque that was built in 1895 by Austro-Hungarian that was destroyed in 1991 and reopened in 2009.
The rest of the beauty sites of the tiny city that has amazing nature panoramic from water to water; from rivers to the nearby island which is captured the city in its bright colorful Spring and the smiling people in the village you will encounter, will ask you to have a cup of local coffee or tea in their home, then followed by an offer of cigarettes.
Bosnian hospitality is a truly feeling coming from heart, they will go out of their way to just help you finding something, and Abaz has done it by connecting with the local journalist in Sanski to get more information about the history of this city.
Life goes on, and the people of Sanski Most and Bosnia will always await your coming as their guests, to enjoy a beautiful spring, down the flowing clean river and stay in the warmth of the country houses, sharing stories about Bosnian old history, whilst learning to make that delicious Cevapivivi and listen to the traditional music and practise the dance. Bosnia-Herzegovina is full of the spring’s beauty, Bosnia who has big love for you.
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