Jun 12, 2020 • 21M

Rebuilding the Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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David Pejčinović-Bailey MBE
Welcome to "An Englishman in the Balkans" podcast, hosted by David Pejčinović-Bailey. In this podcast, you'll get a unique look at life in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the eyes of an immigrant. Each episode, David shares his experiences living in this often misunderstood country, and introduces you to some of the interesting people he's met along the way. From exploring the rich culture and history, to discussing the challenges and joys of immigrating to a new country, this podcast offers a thoughtful and engaging look at life in the Balkans.
Episode details

Today it's a bit of a look back episode, to an interview I did in 2016, when the Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka was re-opened after some 23 years.

The Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka was originally commissioned by, Ferhat Pasha Sokolovic and built in 1579. It stood near the centre of Banja Luka until the night of 6–7 May 1993, some 27 years ago, when it was destroyed by explosion.

The Ferhadija's location remained destroyed for these years and some said that it would never be rebuilt, but rebuilt it was. There were a lot of people involved in the rebuilding, a lot of unsung heroes, and one of those unsung heroes is a Brit like me.

His name is Donald Reeves and he has an NGO called the Soul of Europe. Donald came back to Banja Luka to attend the opening back in 2016. I caught up with him in a hotel coffee bar in Banja Luka and I wanted to find out more about how difficult it had been to get the mosque rebuilt and his thoughts on peace building and reconciliation here in the Western Balkans.

But before I started talking to Donald, I really didn't know much about him apart from what I found on Twitter.

It said he was a maverick priest, a writer, a broadcaster, a peace builder, generally a nuisance, a visionary with attitude, and also a very dangerous man.

So why a very dangerous man when it comes to something like peace building?

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