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Suljo Mustafic
Suljo Mustafic

Suljo Mustafic is a journalist and chairman of the Islamic Community in Bar. Three cultures mix here; apart from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches there is also the living heritage of Islam.

Suljo Mustafic is a Bosniak - a Muslim Slav. For many generations his family has lived in Stari Bar. Following the collapse of Ottoman rule, Stari Bar (the old part of Bar) became part of Montenegro at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. He says "for me it is the most beautiful place in the world. This old town is a part of me, an integral part."

Suljo remembers his first visit to the mosque, the prayers, and the first times he saw the towers of the Catholic Church. He says:

"At that time I did not know that it was a Catholic, I just knew that the tower of a church, because in our family, we have not been taught to distinguish between the different religions. We distinguish ourselves just because we are celebrating different holidays. Here, religions, cultures, traditions and peoples are so mixed that none of us has only one identity. There are several layers of identity in every person."

Like many other religious celebrations in Stari Bar, the Muslim festival of Bajram is celebrated by people of all faiths.

We celebrate Bajram like this because we live in a community with different nationalities and religions. Already on the first day, we receive neighbours and friends of other religions, that means people of Catholic and Orthodox faith. This is completely normal here and doesn't give anyone in this community cause for surprise.

What is unique about Bayram is, that Bayram is a tradition of reconciliation between people. When some people have fought, and this has happened, fights and conflict with fatal consequences, then this belongs to the past and the people make peace at Bayram. This is a Muslim's duty, to be reconciled with his neighbours, his friend or someone from his family. There is no invitation, everything is spontaneous. It is our custom and tradition, that the visits at Bayram are not announced. It is the same at Christmas with Orthodox and also Catholic families.

"This is a microcosm of the Balkans" says Suljo. "Everything you find in Bar, is present throughout the Balkans. It is fortunately nearly a thousand years since there has been any conflict within the resident population of Bar.

April 2008

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