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Faith, History, And Community In Bosnia

In Bosnia, hundreds of churches, mosques, and synagogues reflect centuries of religious diversity. Leading representatives of each religion -- Jews, Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks -- speak of the importance of peaceful coexistence and overcoming the rifts of the country's 1992-95 war.



The Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in Pocitelj, which dates from 1562. 
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The Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in Pocitelj, which dates from 1562. 

A copy of the Koran lies on the carpet at the Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik.
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A copy of the Koran lies on the carpet at the Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik.

Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail says: "Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture."
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Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail says: "Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture."

Decorations adorn the walls of Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik. The mosque dates to 1757.
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Decorations adorn the walls of Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik. The mosque dates to 1757.

A detail of a decorated wall at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik.
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A detail of a decorated wall at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik.

The interior of the Old Synagogue in Sarajevo, dating from 1581.
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The interior of the Old Synagogue in Sarajevo, dating from 1581.

Rabbi's assistant Igor Kozemjakin at the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo. "For Jews, as members of a minority ethnic and religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, multiculturalism is a positive thing, because it is very important to have this kind of diversity," he says.
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Rabbi's assistant Igor Kozemjakin at the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo. "For Jews, as members of a minority ethnic and religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, multiculturalism is a positive thing, because it is very important to have this kind of diversity," he says.

Decorative paintings on the walls and ceiling of Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, built in 1902.
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Decorative paintings on the walls and ceiling of Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, built in 1902.

Hierodeacon Nektarije at the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici. "It is very important that we have different cultures and religions here. Because of this we can easily build and maintain our own identities," he says.
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Hierodeacon Nektarije at the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici. "It is very important that we have different cultures and religions here. Because of this we can easily build and maintain our own identities," he says.

An explosion of color on the ceiling of the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici. The monastery dates from 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete.
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An explosion of color on the ceiling of the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici. The monastery dates from 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete.

The Hercegovacka Gracanica Orthodox church in Trebinje, where Serbian poet Jovan Ducic (1871-1943) is buried. 
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The Hercegovacka Gracanica Orthodox church in Trebinje, where Serbian poet Jovan Ducic (1871-1943) is buried. 

Hercegovacka Gracanica also boasts some fine painted ceilings.
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Hercegovacka Gracanica also boasts some fine painted ceilings.

A line of chairs at the Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in Trebinje. The Orthodox cathedral dates to 1888.
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A line of chairs at the Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in Trebinje. The Orthodox cathedral dates to 1888.

Friar Zeljko Brkic inside Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska. "Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible," Brkic says. 
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Friar Zeljko Brkic inside Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska. "Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible," Brkic says. 

A statue stands inside the 19th century Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo. 
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A statue stands inside the 19th century Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo. 

Decorative paintwork at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo.
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Decorative paintwork at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo.

A crucifix on the roof of the Church of St Michael in Vares. This is the oldest preserved Catholic church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, dating back to the 16th century.
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A crucifix on the roof of the Church of St Michael in Vares. This is the oldest preserved Catholic church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, dating back to the 16th century.

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