World Bulletin / News Desk
The small Balkan country, which survived massive shelling during the 1990s, as well as massacres and the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, marks May 7 as its Day of Mosques.
During the day, the public is informed about hundreds of mosques and various religious buildings destroyed by Serbian and Croatian forces during the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.
The date marks the day the historic Ferhadija Mosque in the city of Banja Luka was demolished by Serb forces.
The mosque is considered a cultural symbol of the country but suffered extensive damage by dynamite in May 1993.
However, it was not the only mosque demolished during the war.
According to Bosnia's Islamic Union, 614 mosques, 218 prayer rooms, 69 Quran course sites, four dervish lodges, 37 tombs, and 405 pieces of historical heritage that belong to Muslim foundations were destroyed.
Some 534 mosques in territories controlled by Serb forces were destroyed, while 80 mosques were destroyed in territories under Croat forces.
According to the union, 80 percent of the 1,144 mosques in Bosnia were destroyed or damaged. In addition to the demolished mosques and other religious buildings, over 100 imams were killed by Serb and Croat forces.
According to statistics, today Bosnia has 1,912 mosques. A total of 789 of the mosques and prayer rooms that were destroyed were reopened for service, while 89 are waiting to be rebuilt from the ashes.
After 15 years of restoration, the Ferhadija Mosque reopened on May 7, 2016 on the anniversary of its destruction thanks to extensive restoration work by Turkey’s state-run aid agency, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).
The mosque was built in 1579 by Ottoman Sandzak Bey and Ferhat Pasha and is considered one of the greatest achievements of Ottoman-inspired Islamic architecture in Europe.
But during the Bosnian War of the 1990s the mosque was demolished by the Army of Republika Srpska.
The first restoration project was launched in 2001 by the Bosnian Islamic Union, but ran into difficulties due to lack of resources.
TIKA took over the restoration project in 2014.