10 Jul 2024 – The East London Mosque Trust (ELMT) hosted a moving event to commemorate the Srebrenica Genocide, bringing together community leaders, diplomats, and survivors to reflect on this dark chapter of European history and reaffirm their commitment to peace and justice.

Junaid Ahmed, CEO of East London Mosque Trust, opened the event, emphasising the importance of solidarity and collective reflection:

We gather today not only to remember but to reaffirm our dedication to the values that prevent atrocities like the Srebrenica genocide from happening again. In light of the current global situation, it is crucial that we stand united against hatred in all its forms.

As the world marks the 29th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the East London Mosque’s commemoration opened with a moving Qur’anic recitation by Imam Syed Anisul Haque. The recitation set a tone of reflection and remembrance, paving the way for a sobering announcement: on 11 July, as part of an annual tradition that has been observed since the killing of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, a mass funeral prayer will be held this year for 14 newly identified victims of the genocide.

The main lesson is that for evil to happen, it’s enough that good men do nothing.

His Excellency Osman Topcagic, the Bosnian Ambassador, provided a historical context, describing the road to genocide as a culmination of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Osman Topcagic spoke of Bosnia’s journey from aggression to peace, emphasising that despite complex challenges, Bosnia has managed to establish institutions and practices. The Ambassador highlighted the UK’s crucial role in getting the UN Resolution recognising the Srebrenica genocide earlier this year and stressed, “The main lesson is that for evil to happen, it’s enough that good men do nothing. We need to act when hate rears its head.”

Dr Abdullah Faliq, a Trustee of the East London Mosque Trust and a pioneer in launching the memorial, shared his experiences visiting Bosnia over the years. He spoke of the parallels between Bosnia and current conflicts, such as in Gaza, highlighting the targeting of mosques and churches and the importance of applying the rule of law. Dr Faliq stressed, “As a community, we need to do more than offer condolences and show solidarity. ‘Never again’ demands work to be done.”

Sehija Dedovic offered a powerful perspective on women’s vital role in raising awareness and ensuring Srebrenica is not forgotten. She detailed the tireless efforts of the Mothers of Srebrenica and various women’s organisations in their campaign for recognition and justice. She highlighted how these efforts culminated in the UN General Assembly adopting a resolution on the Srebrenica Genocide and designating an International Day of Reflection.

The event concluded with a call to action from Junaid Ahmed, who emphasised the need for increased hate crime reporting within the Muslim community. He urged attendees to “shake off our apathy” and take active steps against hate in all its forms, saying, “Hate crime reporting amongst our Muslim community is still low. We need to step up and show our commitment to combating hatred in all its forms.”