Multiethnic couples reflect Bosnia’s growing diversity



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Sunday 7 April 2013

Last update 7 April 2013 3:58 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

SARAJEVO: 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.
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.
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.
In 1992, before war broke out, nearly 13 percent of all married couples in Bosnia were multiethnic, 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.
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.
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.
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 marginalized.”
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 percent, this is a significant handicap.
Nearly a generation may have passed since the war but prejudices persist.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Kingdom and New Zealand have signed an air services agreement to set a comprehensive regulatory framework for air transport, operating on a safe and organized basis.The deal was signed at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) he...
RIYADH: Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa has called on teachers, educators and other officials of his ministry to work hard for the common goal of producing quality graduates. “I urge you to do your level best in transmitting knowledge to the student...
AL-AHSA: Uncoordinated production resources, lack of risk planning, evaluation, non-study of similar projects and poor planning are among the reasons for failure of projects, an expert has said.“Total quality management (TQM) is an integrated scienti...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Criminal Court has issued its verdict against two Saudis for terrorism-related offenses and for supporting extremist groups, a local daily has reported.The court issued a prison sentence of ten and a half years to the first de...
RIYADH: The second phase of the operation on a Polish child for a genetic heart disease was successfully performed at the King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC) of the National Guard Health Affairs on Wednesday. On a directive from Custodian of the Two H...
JEDDAH: A new breast cancer treatment improves survival rates by an average 20 percent, with life expectancy lengthened by 29.9 months.This is according to Ahmed Al-Wabari, breast oncology consultant at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, who ou...
RIYADH: The projects of Saudi students at the Technical Trainers College (TTC) is being showcased at the German pavilion in the 30th Janadriyah Festival. With the slogan “Welcome to Your Future”, the TTC is participating in the festival with Germany...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor has urged firms to immediately start implementing the 10th phase of the Wage Protection System before it becomes mandatory on March 31.Mohammed Al-Faleh, assistant undersecretary for inspection and development of the wor...
RIYADH: As many as 104 antique items that have come from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, have gone on display at the National Museum here. The exhibition coincides the Janadriyah festival for heritage and culture.According to local media, the...
RIYADH: A visiting Kuwaiti delegation has praised Saudi Arabia for collecting and preserving various heritage items at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh.The delegation, led by Kuwait’s Education Minister Bader Al-Essa, was given a tour...
RIYADH: Road security forces in Madinah apprehended two Asian expats who were caught in possession of a huge amount of money totaling SR1.6 million and talismans.“The two Asians were riding in a Japanese-made car when they were stopped at the Yanbu-...
RIYADH: Good news for the 25,000 British expatriates in the Kingdom, who will get their franchise to participate in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.In an announcement on Thursday, the British Embassy here said that the Uni...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Municipality, with cooperation of the Check Safety First British company, launched an award of excellence for services in restaurants under the name E-Cristal to support the establishment of best services in restaurants and eatery shop...
JEDDAH: Well-known Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan married Safa Baig, an Indian woman, who was born in Jeddah and raised here by her Hyderabadi parents.The marriage was solemnized at a simple ceremony at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Wednesday. Only a...
RIYADH: The Ministries of Interior and Islamic Affairs are considering appointing security guards at all the mosques in the Kingdom where Friday prayers are held.The move comes as a precautionary and regulatory measure to protect the mosques from at...

Stay Connected

Facebook