How Christians and Muslims can Marry

Multi-ethnic couples reflect Bosnia's growing diversity

Rusmir Zaimovic and his wife Sandra enjoy an afternoon coffee at their apartment in 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.

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.

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 per cent are Muslim, 31 per cent Serb (mainly Orthodox Christian) and 10 per cent Bosnian Croat. Over two million people were forced from their homes during the war, in which 100,000 died.

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.

Related Posts by Category

1 komentar:

Blogger mengatakan...

Did you know that you can shorten your links with Shortest and make $$$ from every click on your short links.