Turkey, World, Culture

Turkish PM opens renovated iconic Bosnian mosque

Reopening of the 16th century Ferhadija Mosque sends a message of peace to all people, says Prime Minister Davutoglu

Talha Öztürk   | 07.05.2016
Turkish PM opens renovated iconic Bosnian mosque

Belgrade

BELGRADE, Serbia

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday said that the reopened historic Ferhadija Mosque sends a message of peace to all people in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well all citizens of the world.

Davutoglu made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the renovated 16th century Ferhadija Mosque in the country's second-largest city, Banja Luka.

The mosque is considered a cultural symbol of the country but suffered extensive damage by dynamite in May 1993 during the Bosnian War.

In his speech, Davutoglu highlighted three significant aspects of the mosque’s reopening.

"The first is in terms of humanity’s conscience,” he said. “Those who bombed and destroyed Ferhadija Mosque 23 years ago not only destroyed a mosque, they also destroyed humanity's conscience. Today by rebuilding this mosque, we are in fact rebuilding the conscıence of humanity. Let it be known that as long as this mosque is here, payers voicing humanity’s conscience will speak to the skies in Banja Luka."

--A common cultural heritage under Turkey

Davutoglu continued: "The second aspect is our common cultural heritage. Bosnia Herzegovina’s common cultural heritage is under our auspices. We were together at the opening ceremony of the [rebuilt] Mostar Bridge, now at the opening of Ferhadija, and insallah we will also be together at the opening of Alaca Mosque in Foca."

Davutoglu also promised further support for restoring destroyed heritage in the area.

"I promise on behalf of Turkey: Every single destroyed common object of our cultural heritage will be reviewed so it can reach its historical value. We are here for fellowship, for humanity, for multicultural Bosnia-Herzegovina. We were here, we are here, we will be here for eternity," said Davutoglu.

Davutoglu also stressed the importance of unity between people of different faiths in Bosnia.

"The third aspect is about the future of Bosnia. Bosnia is a whole with Muslims, Orthodox, Jews, and Catholics. Whoever wants to separate Bosnia, in fact wants to separate the people’s heart. Banja Luka can never be separated from Sarajevo, Sarajevo can never be separated from Mostar," said Davutoglu.

After 15 years of restoration, the mosque reopened on May 7 on the anniversary of its destruction thanks to extensive restoration work by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

The Ferhadija 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.

During the Bosnian War, hundreds of mosques and other religious buildings were desecrated or destroyed in the fighting.

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