MAPS History of Bosnia & Herzegovina Exhibit, Lecture and Panel

The Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) hosted The History of Bosnia & Herzegovina exhibit, lecture and panel discussion with young Bosnians from our community on September 31st, 2016. The event drew an audience of about 250 people, including members from Temple Beth Am and Vineyard Church in Seattle, as well as members of MAPS and the Bosnian community. The event opened with remarks by MAPS Board Member Riad Chummun and ICBW President Elvira Vojnikovic.  ICBW’s Imam Begzudin ef. Jusic led the prayers at MAPS. After a brief pause for Bosnian coffee and desserts, Alisa Mirza spoke about the exhibit and explained its significance. Esmeralda Kupusija introduced VOBG and its mission, and Irfan Mirza began the eye-opening lecture about Bosnia’s little-known history. The lecture brings together genetic research, anthropology, archeology, historical linguistics, geology and history, to form an updated narrative of the history of the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

From the lecture, we learned that Bosnians are descendants of Europe’s first natives. We followed Bosnia’s Paleolithic-era language as it evolved and spread from Bosnia to its neighbors, eventually reaching the surrounding region through the Orthodox Church. Most importantly, we learned that while Bosnia has been occupied by foreign invaders more than ten times, the Bosnian people have never capitulated to invaders.

Bosnia’s rulers and occupiers intentionally distorted the history and origins of the Bosnian people in order to manipulate and conquer them. This lecture gives Bosnians cause to reclaim their heritage. The panel discussion focused on the Bosnian war, the nation’s present and future. VOBG Trustee Admira Sejfic spoke about her trauma through the war and how she overcame the physical and psychological disabilities and challenges that she faced. Her story moved and inspired the audience. VOBG President Mirza Velagic shared his experience from the Srebrenica Peace March earlier this summer, and he talked about the vision and mission of VOBG. The final panelist was VOBG’s Communications Director Nizama Djuderija, who spoke about the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nizama shared her personal growth as a result of what her parents and family members experienced during the war.

MAPS organizers, ICBW representatives, and numerous audience members lauded the young people for their courage and commitment.

We had a surprise visit from Winston Churchill’s grandson, Dr. Pano Kroko Churchill, who came from California just for the exhibit.

Everyone was impressed with the intellectual content and rich discourse. One of the high school students in the audience commented, “Everyone defines Bosnia by the war, just like Vietnam. They don’t know there was a country and culture before that.”

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