Pope Spreads Message of Peace in Mostly Islamic Sarajevo

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(Newswire.net — June 6, 2015) — Sarajevo, BiH – The Bosnian capitol, with majority Islamic population, hosted a special event as His Holiness the Pope visited Sarajevo on Saturday, spreading the message of peace between Muslims and Christians.

More than 68,000 people greeted the Pope at the city’s stadium built for the Olympic Games in 1984, the pre-war period when Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians lived together in peace. The mid-90’s, will be remembered in modern history as the first religious war.  All three sides suffered greatly, but the Vatican backed the Catholic factions.

Today it is different story. Some thirty years after the war, the country is still deeply divided, but Muslims, at least in Sarajevo, represent the vast majority. So, the visit of His Holiness the Pope to Sarajevo, raised eyebrows.

“Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately,” Pope Francis said to the Christian auditorium, attacking those who want to foster division for political ends or profit from war through arms dealing.

The Pope had earlier referred to Sarajevo, with its synagogues, churches and mosques, as a “European Jerusalem”, a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions, however, that was the situation before Yugoslavia disappear in flames of war.

Pope Francis urged to Muslims, Serbs and Croats to build a “new bridges while maintaining and restoring older ones.”

“In so doing, even the deep wounds of the recent past will be set aside,” Francis told Bosnian government top officials at the meeting. He expressed his wish Sarajevo would once more reclaim its former status as “a beacon of multiculturalism,” AFP reported.

“In a world unfortunately rent by conflicts, this land can become a message: attesting that it is possible to live together side by side, in diversity but rooted in common humanity,” AFP cited the Pope Francis.

Despite a show of unity to welcome the pope, it was eye-poking that there were over 90 percent red and white Croatian flags being waved, a few Bosnia’s blue and yellow ones, and no single one Serbian flag.

The national anthem played for Francis on his arrival remains without words because the three communities have been unable to agree a common text.

Interestingly though, the Catholics singing at the stadium “Pope, we love you,” used exactly the same tune Serbian leader Milosevic was greeted by his most devoted fans. Milosevic later died in Scheveningen prison, where he was accused of crimes against the humanity.

Francis is the second pope to visit Sarajevo after Jean-Paul II, who braved a snowstorm to come two years after the end of the war, AFP reported.