World Bulletin / News Desk
One of the oldest mosques in Bosnia being renovated with Turkish help is approaching its re-opening date.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has been carrying out extensive restoration work on the Ferhadija Mosque in the country's second largest city, Banja Luka, since 2014.
It is considered a cultural symbol of the country but had been dynamited in May 1993 during the Bosnian War.
After a total of 15 years’ restoration, the mosque will be reopened on the anniversary of its destruction for the citizens of Banja Luka, on May 7.
Banja Luka's mufti, Osman Kozlic, told Anadolu Agency that the mosque's restoration could only be completed with the intensive help of TIKA.
"We are expecting at least 20,000 people including high-level politicians to participate in the opening ceremony.
“No doubt the most important guests will be the delegation from Turkey. We truly want Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to attend as well," said Kozlic.
Kozlic believes that the opening of Ferhadija mosque is not only important for the city’s Muslim population, also for people of other religions.
"Many Orthodox I chat with in Banja Luka told me that Ferhadija Mosque is part of their past. We need to keep this feeling and protect and develop our common, shared culture," said Kozlic.
The Ferhadija Mosque was built in 1579 by Ottoman Sandzak Bey, Ferhat Pasha and is considered one of the greatest achievements of Ottoman-inspired Islamic architecture in Europe.
However, during the Bosnian War the mosque was demolished by the Army of Republika Srpska.
The first restoration project was launched in 2001 by the Bosnian Islamic Union but ran into difficulties due to lack a of resources.
TIKA took over the restoration project in 2014.
During the Bosnian War, hundreds of mosques and other religious buildings were desecrated or destroyed in the fighting.Last Mod: 08 Mart 2016, 16:34