Bosnia-Hercegovina And Slovenia Meet In The Synagogue of Maribor
by Admiral Mahić
Celebrations in Maribor, Slovenia, as the European Capital of Culture for 2012, included a visit by a delegation of prominent cultural workers from Bosnia-Hercegovina, comprising the director of the Oriental Institute of Sarajevo, representatives of the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Sarajevo, and me from my small world, the islands, sea, and waterfalls of poets, having just come from a literary festival in the old town of Hvar, on the Croatian island of the same name, and where I won the first prize: the Hvaropis.
On the wings of Croatian understanding, I flew to a Slovenian welcome in Maribor, where I was greeted by Lejla Festić, the organizer of this cultural encounter and of my poetry readings in the Maribor Synagogue, which promised a special reception for my text. And do not be deceived – my poems were received wonderfully in the miraculous atmosphere of the Maribor temple. With the Slovenian poet Marijan Pungartnik I read everything I had assembled, and then in the Synagogue courtyard we watched together a film about the burning of the National and University Library in Sarajevo in 1992, one of the first tragic events in the aggression against Bosnia-Hercegovina.
And so in front of the Synagogue, we watched the fires burn from another, more recent massacre, warning us, Bosnians and Jews equally, but also Slovenes, how unpredictable inhumanity may be. The fire burned on a movie screen, in front of the Synagogue, so brightly that it seemed as if the Maribor Synagogue were burning, and that not even the Drava river, which flows past the courtyard, could put out the flames. But fortunately, it is now only history, and I left the Synagogue, Lejla, Marijan, and Maribor intact.
The next day we were privileged to visit an exhibition by Rudi Uran, a Slovenian painter, photographer, and film director, entitled Survivors of Srebrenica. And Srebrenica today is almost as empty of Bosniaks as the Maribor Synagogue is of Jews. These are the tasteless, stupid jokes taught by history. Still, we must courageously progress in "intercultural" encounters we perhaps should call "inter-human," except that we are already categorized so quickly into insurmountable communities, driven to war and seizure of territories, to justify someone's vanity.
The Honorary Consul of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Smail Festić, is alone in his responsibilities but has honestly and courageously launched an informal program of cultural exchanges, titled "Long Friendship," with serious goals, and in this context we hope to obtain meaningful institutional, budgetary support. All this will be accomplished, I am sure, but sometimes I think of empty European synagogues and empty mosques in Eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina… I feel less sorry for those who preached dogmas than for the refreshments and festivals that always followed the rituals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, after prayers and sermons on honesty as the foundation of the universe, rather than treating temples as centers for the occupation of territory.
But, fortunately, humanity still has not failed, there is always the possibility of a new "makeup examination." I only hope that all the burnings will end, and no more blood be shed because of them. We forgive them, we forgive ourselves, we forget and find ourselves in a repetition of history. In the Maribor Synagogue, some ashes of dead Jews are placed in a protected cupola of the temple, remaining from the shark-like panic in the ambitious heads of aggressors, and so let us protect the innocent dead from new criminals…
[Translation by Center for Islamic Pluralism]