sreda, november 24, 2004

Dispute over Sarajevo park continues

The story of the initiative of Bosnia’s Slovene community to renovate Prešeren Park in Sarajevo is continuing to attract attention.

The Slovenes successfully petitioned the city to name an illegal parking lot near the National Theatre in downtown Sarajevo “Prešeren Park” back in 1994, but only in October were they able to move forward with their renovation of the site. Plans call for landscaping and the installation of a fountain and a wall engraved with lines from Prešeren poems.

Work began on 13 October but was quickly halted.

Local Muslims led by the Vakufska Direkcija and the Hadži Mujaga Society are now demanding that the site be returned to them. A mosque and cemetery formerly stood on the site, but were destroyed in 1947 after the lot was nationalized by the Communist government. A group of nearly 100 protesters is holding daily prayers at the site now in order to prevent further work being done.

The protestors are led by Nezim Halilović-Muderis of the Vakufska Direkcija and Emin Švrakić of the Hadži Mujaga Citizens' Society. They want a temporary mosque to be built on the site, and a permanent structure would then be built once the land was returned to the local Muslim community.

According to Mladina, the Muslims cannot possibly get back the entire site, since an apartment complex also stands on it. However, they stand a better chance of getting back the illegal parking lot than getting back a fully refurbished Prešeren Park [Mladina / 15.11.04 / Pri Prešernovi džamiji and Delo / 19.11.04 / Prešerenov park ali Kalin hadži Alijeva džamija]