On the 11th of July 2016 the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre with the Bosnia Heritage Foundation and the European Muslim Heritage Foundation marked the 21st memorial of the Srebrenica genocide. The event took place at the Maryam Centre (part of the Mosque complex).

Chairman of the Mosque and Centre, Muhammad Habibur Rahman, welcomed guests to the packed event, where he expressed his sorrow for the victims of the genocide and said “the Mosque has been “actively supporting the people of Bosnia since the war”, and he visited Bosnia straight after the conflict with a Muslim delegation.

Husein Kavazovic, the Grand Mufti and Reisul-Ulama of Bosnia-Herzegovina delivered a special message to the organisers the night before in which he said:“The Srebrenica genocide 21 years ago is a stain on humanity [and] will forever be etched in our collective memories with some of the darkest acts of the 20th century. However we are heartened to witness now a measure of justice, which is finally being served for the victims.” He thanked the organisers, saying: “We appreciate the efforts of many in the UK who have been supporting us over the years in raising the issue of Srebrenica to European audiences [namely] The Cordoba Foundation, East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, Bosnia Heritage Foundation, and Bosnia Trust for all your efforts.”

Hafiz Armin Vlajcic, a visiting Chevening Scholar at Coventry University and a Bosnian war survivor who survived the siege of Sarajevo lasting a thousand days lamented how the war had devastated the Bosnian economy. He also said the geopolitics played in the region by world powers has adversely affected the condition of the Bosnian people.

Jeff Celis, a documentary filmmaker shared his latest video about Srebrenica, titled: “Remembering Srebrenica: A Lost Generation”.His short 5-minute video showed the journey of two survivors who saw Serbian friends turn against them and carry out mass killings of their family members.

Mevludin Sahinovic, another Bosnian war survivor and teacher of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the UK, recounted how he lost his brother in the war and that important lessons had to be learned if society is to move on. He expressed his faith in justice, by saying “Every victim has a name – every criminal has a name. To achieve justice, criminals need to answer for their crimes. Revenge is for the weak, justice is for the strong.”

Revd. Alan Green, chair of an interfaith forum and who visited Bosnia in 2009, shared his experience of what it meant to be human and to celebrate diversity: “For me, I found Srebrenica not to be something in the past, but it is something present as many Bosnian families are still waiting for loved ones massacred 21 years ago to be discovered and identified, whilst for others today buried their loves ones”.

The event included reflections from others who had visited Srebrenica, including the Director of the Mosque and Centre, Dilowar Khan. He, along with the Mosque Imam, Shaykh Abdul Qayum, recently visited Bosnia with the Imams and Rabbis Council, in a bid to foster better relations between communities.

Rofikul Islam and Mujibul Islam talked about the Cow Project (part of the Bosnia Trust) they initiated to support the poor in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Jahanara Khanom, a young professional and community organiser, recounted the hospitality she had received whilst visiting Bosnia; and Catriona Robertson, Director of the Christian-Muslim Forum, echoed the sentiments of others highlighting the unspeakable atrocities that transpired in Bosnia and the determination of those affected by the war to work for a better world.

Seff Tonwsend, a Jewish story-teller, reiterated through story-telling the need for justice and dialogue to eradicate misunderstanding across society.

Tharik Hussain, a travel writer, photographer and award-winning journalist spoke towards the end of the evening, highlighting the work of the European Muslim Heritage Foundation (EMHF) to further research and create awareness around Europe’s Islamic heritage.

Hussain’s photos, highlighting a rich Muslim heritage in European states, were on display for visitors along with photos about Srebrenica by the Bosnian photographer Jasmine Agovic, formerly with the International Commission on Missing Persons. Hussain shared his experiences whilst travelling through various European countries and discovering a lost heritage. “Europe has a distinct Muslim history, not just a Judeo-Christian one” he stressed.

The keynote speech was delivered by Shaykh Ramadan Yaqoob, the Grand Mufti of Lithuania and a founding member of the EMHF. He said: “the biggest problem for the whole Islamic world is that we do not know each other. The beauty of all nations and religions is that they brought something good to the world.” He shared personal experiences from Lithuania and his travels all over the world. On the issue of Srebrenica he said, “The atrocities were still occurring in the world today, because of the fact that we refuse to learn and love each other.”

Dr Abdullah Faliq, a member of the East London Mosque Trust, and a founding member of the Bosnia Heritage Foundation who moderated the memorial, said: “We are hear to show solidarity with the 127 martyrs buried today in Srebrenica, the youngest only 14, the eldest 77. We mustn’t forget Srebrenica, but reject any attempts at denial, relativisation or misinterpretation of the genocide which is a fact, and a deep dark scar on society.”


Notes to editors:

1. To find out more about the event organisers visit:

2. Exhibition: “Don’t Forget About Us: A Journey through Europe’s Muslim Heritage” by travel writer Tharik Hussain; and, a dedicated segment on Srebrenica by Jasmine Agovavic, is available to view until Sunday 17 June 2016 at the Visitors Gallery, Maryam Centre from 10:30am-12:30pm and 4-6:30pm. See exhibition flyer here.

3. For full itinerary of the Srebrenica Memorial and other useful follow-up links and projects, click here.

4. Video of the event can be found here, and the keynote speech is available here.