THE PROJECT TO RECONSTRUCT THE FERHADIJA MOSQUE
Central to the work of the Soul of Europe in Bosnia is the plan to reconstruct the Ferhadija Mosque after its complete destruction on 7th May 1993.
With unprecedented systematic thoroughness all 16 mosques in Banja Luka were destroyed between May and November 1993. The Ferhadija, loved by Muslims and non Muslims alike, was the heart of Banja Luka. Now, in part due to the work of the Soul of Europe, the atmosphere in Banja Luka is changing.
The Mosque has now been reconstructed and was inaugurated in July 2014.
The project to reconstruct the Ferhadija Mosque is significant because:
1. IT IS A MAJOR HERITAGE PROJECT
It will be reconstructed exactly as it was. Nothing but the best will do, in terms of design and craftsmanship. A company to oversee the project will be established with Donald Reeves as the executive chairman. Professor Tina Wik from Stockholm and Professor Zeynep Ahunbay from Istanbul, architects appointed by the Dayton Peace Accord to oversee the restoration of destroyed Islamic buildings in Bosnia, have agreed to be on the Board.
2. IT IS A EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL PROJECT
The Ferhadija Project will be consistently, vigorously and professionally promoted in Bosnia, Europe and throughout the world as a sign that the 15 million Muslims in Europe are truly art of the European family.
The Ferhadija Project has a resonance well beyond Bosnia. Since 9/11 there is well documented evidence of increased prejudice against Muslims and since the events in Iraq many younger Muslims have become disenchanted with the West.
Therefore there is an urgent need for practical bridge building examples of collaboration and cooperation between Islam and Christianity of which the Ferhadija Project is a striking example. The greatest weapon available to counteract terrorism is in fact the courage, tolerance, decency, humour and integrity of the vast proportion of the world’s Muslims. So bridge building is necessary and urgent.
3. A UNIQUE EXAMPLE OF COLLABORATION BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Dr Mustafa Ceric has entrusted this project to the Soul of Europe.
A Christian based organization working closely with the local and national communities in Bosnia provides a model for partnerships elsewhere (see above).
It is intended to establish in Banja Luka a Centre of Reconciliation where younger generations of Bosnians can learn about the best of Islam, Judaism and the different manifestations of Christianities. Dispelling ignorance and thus prejudice will help to bring to birth a more tolerant society.