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Foča: The Bosniak

Foca
Foca

One of the most interesting books about Bosnia published in the 1990s was called The Bosniak. It is series of interviews or rather discussions between Adil Zulfikarpašić and Milovan Djilas. Zulfikarpašić came from a wealthy, aristocratic Muslim family from Foča. He turned to communism, became a Partisan during the war but then left for exile in Switzerland where he prospered in business. There he fostered ideas of Bosniak – as opposed to simply Bosnian Muslim identity – and when he returned in 1990 he was to become as Robert Donia has called him a "founding father" of Bosniak nationalism. Milovan Djilas was a towering figure of Yugoslav communism. A Montenegrin, he played a key role during the Second World War and in the early post-war years until he fell out with Tito and became the country's best-known dissident. In this extract Zulfikarpašić talks about his hometown of Foča.

In Foča… the Muslims and Serbs did not live together until the arrival of the Austria-Hungary. There was a mahala called Čerezluk where the Orthodox inhabitants lived. They had their own stores in the city too, but they lived, in Čerzluk-mahala and in the Varoš district where there was an Orthodox church. The Muslim population lived exclusively in the centre. When Austria-Hungary arrived, and after the formation of Yugoslavia, many Serb families moved to the city centre. I had a neighbour called Niković who had moved from Montenegro, and another called Hadživuković who lived with us in an atmosphere of mutual consideration and harmony. They didn't raise pigs out of regard for us. I don't remember a single Serb family in Foča raising pigs. So there was respect but... a lack of real knowledge. My family was not closely acquainted with Orthodox customs and the Serbs didn't know anything about ours. Each was ignorant of even the basic tenets of the other's religion, of the preoccupations peculiar to each ethnic group. I made up for that later in life, and only then realized what a mistake it had been.

The Bosniak: Adil Zulfikarpašić in dialogue with Milovan Djilas and Nadežda Gaće. Milovan Djilas & Nadežda Gaće. 1998.
[p. 50 / Hurst]

April 2007
Tim Judah

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  1. Istanbul: Pamuk's City
  2. Istanbul: Swimming across the Bosphorus
  3. Salonika and the Jews
  4. Salonica: Slaves and Trade
  5. Thessalonika: 1923
  6. Ohrid: Rise and Fall
  7. Tornado of Dust - 1944
  8. Awake Romania - 1989
  9. Novi Sad: Nest of the Serbian nation
  10. Nis: War Capital, 1915
  11. Belgrade and the Selenites
  12. 1996: Serbia Calling
  13. Belgrade Train Station - 1964
  14. Srebrenica: Vengeance
  15. Srebrenica: Blood
  16. Srebrenica: July 1995
  17. Mealtime - Interwar years in Travnik
  18. Dayton: The Napkin Shuttle
  19. London Buses in Sarajevo
  20. The Museum and Bosnian Identity
  21. Foča: The Bosniak
  22. Kosovo: The Swiss Front
  23. Mitrovica: 1908
  24. Pristina: Kosovo like Namibia?
  25. City without traffic - Pristina 1966
  26. Durham in Pristina - 1908
  27. Tirana: 1962
  28. Zog's Tirana
  29. The Kotor - Constantinople Express
  30. Kotor and the Montenegrins
  31. The Rabbi of Stolac
  32. Dubrovnik: England, Wine and Wool
  33. Cetinje: Nikola Under the Elm
  34. Cetinje: 1858
  35. Dalmatia: Ships & Grapes
  36. Prophet of Yugoslavism
  37. The head of the world
  38. 1919: Mushrooms and Lies
  39. Sofia: Bulgaria's Jews during WWII
  40. Zamfirovo: Rural livelihoods in the mid-1990s
  41. Kosovo
  42. Romania: 1914
  43. Istanbul: Food and the frugal Turks
  44. Micklagard: Surprising, cosmopolitan Constantinople
  45. Sukhumi: The history of the region became ashes
  46. Black Sea: The coming of steam and rail
  47. Mestrovic: Motherhood and the Victor
  48. Rizvanovici, Bosnia: Gnashing
  49. Down the Danube with Magris: Ruse
  50. From Pristina to Tskhinvali
  51. Serbia, Historians and Hitler's War
  52. Balkan Strongmen: Bulgaria's Zhivkov
  53. Sarajevo: The Siege Within
  54. Turkey: Osman's Dream
  55. Durres 1961: Beijing on Sea
  56. Cetinje: Eggs for the Ladies
  57. Bosnia: Land of Immigrants
  58. Ottoman Croatia
  59. Harem: All the Sultan's Women
  60. Sibiu: Regime Change, European Style
  61. 1929: The Balkans and the Great Crash
  62. Rumeli and how the Balkans became the Balkans
  63. 1948: Stalin, Kosovo and Swallowing Albania
  64. Transforming Turkey: the 1950s
  65. McMafia and the Balkans
  66. 1916: Serbia in Corfu
  67. Princes Amongst Men
  68. Limp Shevardnadze
  69. Knin: War and Suburbia
  70. In the Mountains of Poetry
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