World Bulletin / News Desk
Izetbegovic -- a politician, writer and lawyer who came to international prominence during the country’s bitter 1992-1995 war -- is commemorated every year on his death anniversary.
Often dubbed the "Wise King", Izetbegovic managed to gain independence for his country on March 1, 1992 - months after Slovenia and Croatia broke away from the former Yugoslavia.
Izetbegovic died in Sarajevo on Oct. 19, 2003 of natural causes, having served as president of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to 1996 and as chairman of the Bosnian presidency until October 2000.
It was in Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration, published in 1970, that Bosnian independence, national consciousness and the expansion of Islamic thought found an audience.
The book dealt with the relationship between the West and Islamic world and how to build a new civilization.
His writings got him in trouble with the Yugoslav authorities. Along with 12 other Bosniak scholars, he was jailed for 14 years after being accused of "separatism and establishing an Islamic state" in 1983, but was released in 1988.
He entered politics the same year and founded the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in 1990 -- aiming to empower Bosniaks in their own land.
Being one of the six republics of Yugoslavia, Bosnia's SDA won 86 seats in the 240-seat parliament in 1990's first multi-party elections.
In February-March 1992, a referendum on independence for Bosnia-Herzegovina was held, in which 64 percent of its people participated and voted 99.44 percent to become independent.
A month later, the European Union and the United States recognized the new state.