The first-ever gay pride festival in
Bosnia is meeting with resistance from the country's Muslim majority.
Muslims are angry that the four-day gay
festival opens in Sarajevo on Wednesday during Ramadan, a month-long
religious observance where Muslims do not eat or drink anything from
dawn to sunset.
Organizers say Muslims would have been
offended no matter when the festival was held.
“It coincided with Ramadan
unintentionally,” Q Association leader Svetlana Djurkovic told
Reuters. “This is a festival of arts and culture and there
are many believers in our population as well.”
Muslim leaders say the gay festival is
an affront to Islam.
“I demand my right to religious
freedom, my religion prohibits it,” Parliament member Amila
Alikadic-Husovic told the Agence France-Press news agency.
Husovic drew widespread criticism for her comments, including saying
that being gay was an “illness” and should be “cured and not
“If my children were homosexuals, I
would be as desperate as if they were kleptomaniac, schizophrenic or
otherwise seriously ill,” Husovic said.
Such language from lawmakers has raised
concerns over the safety of gay and lesbian participants attending
the gay festival. Yet, the language remains mild when compared to
Columnist Ezher Beganovic of the
Islamic magazine Saff has called on the government to cancel the gay
festival or face the wrath of angry believers. And a campaign of
anti-gay hate has also appeared in the capital with posters that
read, “Death to Homos.”
Fears of violence erupting are not
groundless in the Balkan state, where an ethnic civil war in the 90s
killed tens of thousands and homophobia remains prevalent.