Violence Wednesday at the opening of
Bosnia's first-ever gay pride festival has forced the event
underground, reports the Agence France-Press news agency.
Violent attacks on festival-goers at
the gay festival's inaugural art exhibit by some 70 men, some
shouting “God is greatest” in Arabic, injured eight people,
including two journalists and a policeman.
“We are not interrupting the [gay]
festival, but we will change the format. It will no longer be a
public event,” said Slobodanka Dekic from Q Association. “The
right people will have the right information about what is happening
Organizers said some people were
dragged out of their cars and beaten.
The gay pride festival first met with
resistance from the country's Muslim majority over its opening during
the holy month of Ramadan, a month-long religious observance where
Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn to sunset.
But gay rights activists said Muslims
would have been offended no matter when the festival was held.
“It coincided with Ramadan
unintentionally,” Q Association leader Svetlana Djurkovic told
“This is a festival of arts and
culture and there are many believers in our population as well.”
Fears of escalating violence are not
groundless in the Balkan state, where an ethnic civil war in the 90s
killed tens of thousands and homophobia remains prevalent.
The violence at the gay festival was
condemned by Bosnia's Human Rights Minister Safet Halilvic, “Attack
last night on organizers and visitors of the queer festival is an
example of unacceptable human rights violations.”