Quantcast
Connect with us

Multi-ethnic couples reflect Bosnia’s growing diversity

Published

on

Sandra Zaimovic, a Catholic Bosnian Croat and her husband Rusmir, a Bosnian Muslim, are looking forward to celebrating both Eid and Christmas with their new baby this year.

Couples of different ethnicity like the Zaimovics were a rarity in the years following the 1992-1995 war which divided Bosnia along ethnic lines, but today they are slowly reappearing, reflecting the country’s growing diversity.

“It is an advantage for children to grow up in two cultures and I am very happy that, while I am a Catholic, my last name is Muslim,” says Sandra, a 32-year-old charity worker.

Rusmir and Sandra, herself a child of a mixed marriage between a Bosnian Croat mother and Serb father, met in 2003 at a friend’s party.

They were married two years later, one of the rare ethnically mixed marriages in Bosnia to take place since the war.

“Ours is a marriage of love — we have never asked any questions about our ethnicity or our faith,” says 33-year-old computer engineer Rusmir Zaimovic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Their families had no objections, but many others have queried their relationship.

“I often meet people who ask me how my mother has reacted, how the two of us manage everything. Remarks like that remind me where we live,” says Sandra.

Over the years, however, Sandra and Rusmir have made a tight network of friends, many of whom are also ethnically mixed couples, or those who find no fault with their life choices.

The former Yugoslav republic was once a shining example of diversity, but Bosnian society was torn apart during the war that pitted its three main ethnic communities – Serbs, Croats, and Muslims – against each other.

ADVERTISEMENT

Many mixed couples were unable to resist the pressures of the time and either split up or left the country.

Most have never returned.

Today the country has a population of just 3.8 million, of which 40 percent are Muslim, 31 percent Serb (mainly Orthodox Christian) and 10 percent Bosnian Croat.

Over two million people were forced from their homes during the war, in which 100,000 died.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1992, before war broke out, nearly 13 percent of all married couples in Bosnia were multi-ethnic, but today they number just four percent.

While there are no reliable statistics for the years immediately following the war, the current figure is likely to be an increase on the late 1990s and early 2000s, when ethnic divisions remained deeply entrenched.

— Consequence of war: deep distrust —

The campaign of “ethnic cleansing” led by Bosnian Serbs against Bosnian Muslims, including the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys — designated as genocide by two international courts — destroyed any veneer of peaceful coexistence between communities.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ethnologist Ugo Vlaisavljevic confirms that the psychological scars of the war run deep. “As a consequence of the horrors of war that we experienced in the 1990s a deep distrust between the people emerged… and of course this has had a considerable impact on people’s personal lives.”

Neda Perisic, an anthropologist, points out that couples like the Zaimovics face more than societal pressure, highlighting the institutional discrimination inherent in the political system imposed by the 1995 peace accord.

“In Bosnia, there are no individual, but only collective rights,” she says, explaining that almost all jobs in public administration or state-controlled companies are reserved for members of the three so-called constituent communities.

According to Bosnia’s constitution, the country is made up of three constituent peoples: Muslims, Serbs and Croats – and ‘others’, a category which encompasses all other ethnic groups living in the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a system based on the rights given to each of the three main ethnic groups, those who are considered to be ‘other’ face fewer opportunities, she warns, continuing “in a system like this, children from mixed marriages are marginalised.”

As children of mixed ethnicity are classified as ‘other’, Perisic says that as adults they will have little chance of finding work in the public sector, which is by far the largest employer in the country.

Given that Bosnia currently struggles with unemployment of over 40 per cent, this is a significant handicap.

Nearly a generation may have passed since the war but prejudices persist, as a recent article by well-known Bosnian Serb actor and director Nikola Pejakovic shows. In his weekly column in the biggest Bosnian Serb daily, Pejakovic described mixed marriages as a “misfortune”, writing: “They were a part of the (former) Yugoslav communist regime plan to play with people and genetics.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The multi-ethnic actor Sanin Milavic, who is himself in a mixed marriage, retaliated: “Get the hell out of my bedroom!” in a post on his Facebook page which went viral.

“Here, you’re given an identity at birth, like a cow branded with a hot iron, as if identity is not something we construct,” Milavic said.

Summing up the problems faced by children of mixed ethnicity, he said: “I am not worried about myself, but for my son who, according to the constitution of this country, does not exist.”

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Facebook moderator died from heart attack on the job — and managers were ordered not to tell employees: report

Published

on

A Facebook moderator died of a heart attack last while on the job for the social media giant, according to a new report detailing miserable working conditions for the company's employees.

Keith Utley, a former Coast Guard lieutenant commander, was working an overnight shift at Facebook's moderator site in Tampa, Florida, when co-workers noticed him slump out of his chair, reported The Verge.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Biden tells billionaires that things wouldn’t change under his administration

Published

on

Don't worry, billionaires: your standard of living won't change under a Joe Biden administration.

That's the message the Democratic frontrunner delivered to donors Tuesday as he continued a fundraising trip in New York that saw him on Monday tell a room of wealthy Wall Streeters "you guys are great" and ask a Trump-loving supermarket magnate for support.

In Biden's comments Tuesday, the former vice president told a room of 100 of the New York financial elite, including bankers Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, both of whom worked in the Treasury Department under Democratic administrations, that he wasn't their enemy. According to Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Epstein, Biden took pains to separate himself from the rest of the field in his comments.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Video of bear cub being stoned to death in Iran sparks outcry

Published

on

A video of a bear cub being stoned to death by villagers in Iran has sparked horror and prompted police action after it was posted online on June 16

In the video, taken in a forest in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran, around a dozen men are seen throwing stones at the cub, which appears to be in a state of shock. A woman can be heard calling for the group to stop. Later, some of the men are seen tying a cord around the unconscious bear and dragging it to the side of a road.

The video quickly went viral, and many online users began searching for the perpetrators.

A screenshot from the video.

????????? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ?????? ? ?? ?????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ??????. ??? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??????? ? ?? ??? ?? ??????? ?????. ????? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ???.

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link