Thousands of Muslims flock to Banja Luka for reopening of Ferhadija mosque

Thousands of Muslim believers are flocking to Banja Luka on Saturday to attend a ceremony marking the completion of the reconstruction of the Ferhad Pasha Mosque which was levelled by Bosnian Serb authorities on 7 May 1993.

At least 10,000 faithful are expected to attend the ceremonial reopening of the rebuilt Ferhadija mosque, which was one of the landmarks of Banja Luka for centuries.

The Ferhat Pasha Mosque, built in 1579, was one of the most significant Ottoman architectural achievements in Bosnia and Herzegovina but was razed to the ground by Bosnian Serb forces in 1993 despite being protected by UNESCO.

Security will be tight for the reopening, which will be attended by various Bosnian and international dignitaries including Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasenbegovic will also attend the event.

Although Banja Luka saw little combat during the Bosnian war, all 16 mosques in the city, of which Ferhadija was the most famous, were destroyed. 

The first attempts to reconstruct the Ferhadija mosque were met with violence. The ceremony at which the cornerstone for the reconstructed mosque was laid took place on the eighth anniversary of its destruction, on May 7, 2001, but was followed by riots by Serb nationalists. By the end of the riots, one Bosniak had been killed and more than 30 people injured.

Fifteen years later, the mosque has been reconstructed on authentic foundations and debris of the original building have been included in the reconstructed mosque.

The Ferhad Pasha Mosque, also known as the Ferhadija Mosque was one of the greatest achievements of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 16th century Ottoman to impose Islamic architecture in Europe. 

Ferhadija was listed as a Bosnia and Herzegovina cultural heritage site in 1950. It was subsequently protected by UNESCO until its destruction in 1993.

Last update: Sat, 07/05/2016 - 12:56

More from Balkan

Serbia and Slovenia to hold joint govt meeting

A joint meeting of the governments of Serbia and Slovenia is scheduled for Monday in Belgrade, says a a press...

800 victims from Huda Jama mass grave to be reburied in Maribor

Remains of about 800 victims unearthed from the disused Slovenian mine of Huda Jama, one of the largest multiple...

Slovenia erecting panel fence along Croatia border

Slovenia started putting up a metal panel fence at its biggest border crossing with Croatia, Bregana-Obrezje, on...

Dodik to abandon EU path if Bosnian Serb entity sanctioned for referendum

The President of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Serb entity Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, on Friday threatened that the...

Serbia will not increase accommodation capacity for migrants

Serbia has been given additional funds by the European Union to manage the migrant crisis during the winter, but it...