Bosnia: Divided We Stand

najlae.jpgBY Najlae Benmbarek

and Durrell Dawson

“Divided We Stand,” FRONTLINE/World’s latest story from Bosnia-Herzegovina, is a departure from our past Bosnia coverage. As always it starts by recalling the tragedy of the civil war in the 1990s, but this time we focus on young people, a new post-war generation looking for ways to move on.

The unofficial capital of Herzegovina, the ancient Ottoman city of Mostar lies along the Neretva River and is the fifth-largest city in the country.

The word Mostar means “old bridge,” but that very bridge, the town’s most famous symbol, was blown up during the war, along with the city’s long history of religious tolerance and integration. Before the war, children from different ethnic groups went to school together. Today, they are mostly segregated. Even though the bridge has been rebuilt, Mostar is still very much divided, with Muslim Bosnians living on one side and Christian Croats on the other.

Najlae Benmbarek and Durrell Dawson traveled to Bosnia to find out how communities are working to overcome the divisions of the past. They made a surprising discvovery. The youth of Mostar had joined forces to commission a statue of a hero — someone agreeable to them all. When churches, mosques, bridges — even the airport — were rebuilt in this war-torn region, all created controversy based on whether the place was historically Croat, Muslim or Serb. The statue commissioned by these young people stands as the only monument erected in postwar Bosnia without an uproar.

The mastermind behind the statue idea was Serb writer Veselin Gatalo, who told Benmbarek that the choice they made symbolized universal justice and reminded many in the group of their childhood.

For those of you who don’t recall the news coverage around the unlikely hero’s unveiling, we will let the video itself reveal their choice.

Joelle Jaffe
Associate Interactive Producer


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Najlae Says:

    well thanks!

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