Monday, 29 October 2012

Public Announcement: Will be away for a few days

Hey guys,

Here's another one of those 'don't expect to hear from me for a few days' messages.

Am off to Sarajevo to catch up with a good friend of mine and it is unlikely I will have the time to write anything on here.

Expect to hear from me by Saturday or Sunday at earliest :)

Enjoy and take care, wherever you may be!

Snow now arrives in Zenica

It is not much, but the first snow fall has reached my central Bosnian city of Zenica.

It comes as a surprise to wake up to this sight, due to the fact it was not expected until Tuesday at the earliest.

Here are my photos:

Sunday, 28 October 2012

First snow falls in Bosnia-Herzegovina!

The first snow flakes of the cold season have begun to fall in north-west Bosnia, according to reports from Bosnian news portal Klix.

Snow was reported in and around the city of Bihac on Sunday morning, after temperatures there dropped below zero. It follows a cold snap which has hit much of central Europe, with snow also falling in Germany, France, Switzerland, Croatia, as well as Scotland in the north.

Although snow has yet to drop in Zenica, reports suggest that it could even be expected to occur by Tuesday.

Already, temperatures outside have dropped to around 3°C in the early evening - causing me to bring out the gloves, beanie and beefed-up jackets whenever I step foot outdoors. It is extremely difficult to comprehend the fact that, just a number of weeks ago, I was relaxing on the beaches here and ducking from the hot sun.

It is a real shock to see how quickly and drastically the seasonal temperatures can change in this part of the world, especially when I compare it to back home in Melbourne, where I wonder whether or not it has ever been 3°C at 6pm on a winter evening - let alone an autumn evening!

Oh well, I have been longing for that beautiful white snow to fall here again for quite some time, so I shouldn't really be complaining about this cold snap. In fact, bring it on, I say!

Thanks to AFP, here are some of photos of the weekend snowfall across other parts of Europe. Check it out.

Grenoble, France:

Oberjoch, Germany:

Munich, Germany:

Lugano, Switzerland:


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Kurban Bajram 2012 in Bosnia!

Our home-made baklava ... sooo good!
Yesterday marked the second instalment of this year's Bajram, and I can comfortably say - albeit 4,000 baklava slices later - that it was another extremely enjoyable occasion.

This particular holiday is known locally as Kurban Bajram, meaning the 'Festival of Sacrifice', which, as I have previously told you, is due to the Islamic belief that Ibrahim (Abraham) was ready to sacrifice his son to God.

The day began much like the previous Bajram holiday - which, actually, was only 2 months and 7 days prior - with thousands of Muslim men (even those who don't attend on any other day of the year) from across Zenica flocking to the mosques for morning prayer.

(I was intending on travelling down to the local mosque to take some of my own photos of the crowds, but a lack of sleep combined with freezing weather made me decide to simply opt for the professional photos used by local media outlets!)

As is tradition, whilst the men were present at the morning prayer, the women of each household were busy preparing a morning meal to be consumed by all when the men arrived home.
Once again, thousands packed several of Zenica's mosques -
even ending up on public squares and streets outside.
(Source: ZenicaBlog)

At our apartment, my partner and her mother made a delicious burek, along with some other foods and salads, and it was simply fantastic. After an early 7am wake-up, a good feed was just what I needed! (Mind you, I did head back to bed for an hour-long snooze afterwards!)

Once the afternoon came, it was time to visit other sections of the family. So, as is tradition for Bajram in this part of the world, we kitted up in some new, fancy clothes, and headed to the beautiful family house which is situated atop one of Zenica's hills.

For several hours we joked around, ate ridiculous amounts of food, smoked cigarettes (not me, mum!), and listened to various styles of Bosnian folk music.

Time flew by and, before I knew it, it started to become dark outside, thus; it was time to head home.

However, once we arrived back at our apartment, we did not have long to relax, as it was once again time to head out; this time, to a home of family friend's.

Kitted up in my (admittedly unusual) attire
for the day. Mind the bits of rubbish around
me; fair to say I didn't notice it at the time!
As had occurred in the afternoon, we all sat together for hours and drank coffee, ate (again, it was heaps), joked around, and, to be frank, just had a really fantastic time.

Upon reflection, the whole Bajram day revolved around togetherness and catching up with people of whom we don't often have the chance to. As my fiancĂ© suggested to me when we were walking back home last night, 'Isn't that what this day is all about?'

For those of you back home, outside the religious beliefs upon which they are celebrating, the day really shares much commonality with the day of Christmas. (Although, sadly for some of us, there are not two celebrations of Christmas within two months of each other!)

As I said, this Bajram, along with the last, was such a fantastic experience for me, and one for which I am incredibly appreciative. Being able to first-hand witness how so many people could put aside whatever issues were going on in their lives and come to celebrate together as such really resonated with me.

Although I will do my best to try and replicate these Bajram celebrations when I return to Australia, I honestly cannot wait to experience the holiday here in Bosnia again one day.

Hopefully, when that time comes, I have worked out how to pronounce "Bajram barecula" just that little bit more fluently.

Bajram serif mubarek olsun to everyone who celebrated, and I hope your day was at least half as good as mine was!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Eid al-Adha is today!

A big "BAJRAM SERIF MUBAREK OLSUN" to all of my Muslim friends around the world.
I hope you enjoy your day, wherever you are!

Hundreds of people pack the streets outside one of Zenica's
central mosque's for this morning's 'namaz' prayer.
(Source: ZenicaBlog)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Senad Hadzic reaches Mecca

Senad Hadzic prays with fellow Muslims in Medina a number
of days ago.
After crossing through seven countries by foot, Senad Hadzic finally made it to Mecca a number of days ago.

The 47-year-old arrived last Saturday after setting off from his home-town in northern Bosnia in December last year, in which he travelled through Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Jordan before, finally, reaching Saudi Arabia.

Carrying a backpack weighing 20 kilograms along the entire route, Hadzic went through 12 pairs of shoes, three large rucksacks, seven tracksuits and around 1000 pairs of socks.

Further to that, the Bosnian also ended up going through 7 mobile phones and three pairs of glasses.

Upon arriving at his destination after almost a year of walking, Hadzic said although he was tired, "these (were) the best days of (his) life".

If Senad's journey didn't sound astonishing enough, it is worth pointing out the fact that he was fasting every day during the month of Ramadan - despite daily temperatures sometimes reaching in excess of 40°C

Simply incredible.

By the way, here's a photo of my fiancĂ©'s uncle (left) grabbing a photo with Senad at Mecca - with the two of them both completing this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

Well done and svaka cast, guys.

20,000 milestone!

TWENTY THOUSAND views! In just four months! Well exceeded expectations. Who thought anyone would care about what a 20-year-old Australian located in Bosnia would have to say?
Cheers, everyone; Hvala ti puno; etc, etc. :)

Photo of the Day: Beautiful Zenica

I saw this photo and couldn't help myself.

(Source: Mirsad Selimovic)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

What's in a name? 'Bosnia-Herzegovina'

The name 'Bosnia' is derived from an Indo-European word, 'Bosana'; meaning 'water'. This can be put down to the fact that there exists a vast array of rivers, lakes and waterfalls in the area - not to mention a small strip of the Adriatic Sea.

'Herzegovina', on the other hand, comes from the name of 'Herceg' Stjepan (Vukcic Kosaca), an ancient ruler of the land throughout the mid-15th century.

The Bosna River.
Herceg Stjepan.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Eid al-Adha expected for Friday

The Eid crescent moon in the sky.
After a period of public conjecture, it is expected that the first day of this year's Islamic Eid al-Adha will fall on this coming Friday.

Due to the date being determined by astronomical estimates - specifically, the presence of a crescent moon - many across the Islamic community are unsure about which exact day the religious holiday will fall on; however, according to Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Eid al-Adha will begin on Friday (26.10.2012).

So, wait a minute, I can hear some of you asking: What exactly is 'Eid al-Adha'?

I am glad you asked.

Eid al-Adha, also known as the 'Feast of Sacrifice', is celebrated by Muslims worldwide, and exists to commemorate Ibrahim's (Abraham's) willingness to sacrifice his son to God. On top of that, it also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

It is a time for which Muslims use to ask mercy from God and wish each other well.

Due to the popular Islamic belief that, when Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his son, God intervened to swap the child for a sheep to kill instead, a common tradition of Eid al-Adha is to sacrifice an animal permitted for food (eg. a lamb); which is seen as an act of thanksgiving for God's mercy.

Whilst some Muslims carry out the animal sacrifice themselves, many choose to send money to their native lands where the sacrifice is carried out on their behalf; and the meat is subsequently forwarded on to them or, as is common, to the poor.

This event  - known as 'Kurban Bajram' in BiH (for those playing at home) - falls two months and ten days after the previous Bajram holiday, 'Eid ul-Fitr'.

Eid al-Adha also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.
Personally, growing up with the celebration of Catholic traditions, it reminds me of how Easter is celebrated just a number of months after Christmas.

Anyway, I cannot wait to experience this second Bajram holiday. (Good food and good vibe across the community - it is almost impossible to not get caught up in it!)

However, the day prior to the beginning of Eid al-Adha also needs a mention.

The Day of Arafat, as it is known, is a day in which Muslims who are not performing the Hajj are expected to fast - as it is believed the practice erases one of all their sins of the previous and remaining year.

Therefore, not wanting to feel left out, I will be joining the local Muslims in fasting on Thursday. (Just imagine how good the food will taste on Friday after fasting the day before... Mmm!)

Luckily, the sun here in Bosnia is not in the sky each day as long as it was during Ramadan a few months ago, so I don't have to worry about fasting for some 17 hours again! This time it will just be a little over 12 hours.

Sounds a lot more enticing to me!

I will keep you all updated as we approach the coming days. :)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Bosnian of the Week: Edin Dzeko

Edin Dzeko celebrates the second of his two goals against
West Brom yesterday.
(Source: DailyMail / EPA)
Just four days after scoring for Bosnia-Herzegovina in their 3-0 win over Lithuania in Zenica, striker Edin Dzeko came off the bench to score two goals for Manchester City in their come-from-behind victory against West Brom yesterday.

The English Premier League (EPL) star was introduced in the 79th minute, wasting no time to have an impact as he scored from a header within 60 seconds of entering the pitch.

Ten minutes later, and with the match looking headed for a 1-1 draw, Dzeko latched onto a pass from team-mate Sergio Aguero, smashing the ball past the West Brom keeper to give City a vital win away from home.

The goals take Dzeko's EPL season tally to five, and have led to calls for Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini to start the Bosnian on the pitch.

It is worth mentioning the Dzeko was voted Manchester City's Player of the Month for August-September this year.

Svaka cast, Edine! (Well done, Edin!)

Check out the highlights of yesterday's match - including Dzeko's goals - right here:

West Brom 1-2 Manchester City | 20.10... by pikayo1

Friday, 19 October 2012

Photo of the Day: Banja Luka

Wednesday marked the opening of Banja Luka's first ever McDonalds store; and only the fourth to be constructed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The event has led to backlash among some locals, and, according to Klix, by Thursday there had already appeared anti-McDonalds graffiti in parts of downtown Banja Luka.

Here is one of them:


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Senad Hadzic update [Oct 18, 2012]

Senad Hadzic upon reaching Saudi Arabia.
Some time has passed since I last updated you all on the progress of Senad Hadzic - the Bosnian native walking the 6,000-kilometre journey from his home-town of Banovici to the Saudi city of Mecca; all as part of the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage - so here is some fresh news.

It was revealed on the official Facebook page dedicated to Hadzic's trek that today, after 314 days and 5,700 kilometres of walking, Senad had made it to the historic Saudi Arabian city of Medina.

Reaching the city marks a major milestone for Hadzic who, after taking off on his journey from northern Bosnia on December 10 last year, is now only several hundred kilometres away from his target of Mecca.

The 47-year-old has faced many difficulties along the way, including trekking through war-zones, severe heat and being held up on the Saudi Arabian border for two months, but he can now see the end in sight.

With the 2012 Hajj not due to commence for another six days, no doubt Senad is rewarding himself with a little bit of 'rest' before the process begins - if you label 'rest' as walking around to check out all the historic landmarks (such as the Prophet's Mosque) that are located in Medina!

Congratulations and well done, Senad.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Photos + Videos: BiH - Lithuania

Here are some photos and videos from the FIFA World Cup Qualifier staged in Zenica last night between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lithuania.
I was fortunate enough to attend the match, and I am glad to report to you that the Bosnians were victorious 3-0 on the evening.

The majority were taken from my personal phone, however, I have also added some better quality ones I found across the Internet.



Two hours prior to kick-off, and, across on the other side of the Bosna River to the stadium, the usually-sparse car park at Zenica Shopping Centar is jam-packed:

Several hundred Bosnian fans wait outside the team's hotel to catch a glimpse of their players before they board the bus to make the ... 100-metre ... journey to Bilino Polje stadium:

I have taken up my position in the stadium, which is surprisingly crowded, despite there remaining a further hour or so until kick-off:

As the atmosphere builds around the stadium in the lead-up to kick-off, a giant flag flies above the crowd in the south stand:

I am not quite sure how to describe this photo, but I will try. As the Lithuanian squad entered the pitch for their warm-up routine, this elderly man down on the fence in, well, formal attire (to say the least) began dancing and jumping up and down with his Bosnia-Herzegovina flag. Scroll down the page, you can see what I mean on one of the videos I took:

There was a very large police presence at the match; in fact, some of the riot police even had access to their very own VIP/Press box for the entire game! Can't say I have seen that one before!:

Half-time arrives with Bosnia holding a comfortable 3-0 lead over the Lithuanian's. Despite the fact myself and the whole stadium were standing the whole match, now feels like a good time to give the legs a stretch:

No matter where I am in the world, I always feel at home on the football terraces:

Mid-way through the second half, and residents of an adjacent building spark up a flare from their private balcony:

Here's a higher-quality version I found on the Internet; (Source:

After successfully maintaining their 3-0 lead to full-time, the Bosnian squad make a lap of the pitch to thank their vocal fans:

Bosnian fans pour onto the streets of Zenica post-game to soak up another victory of their national side:


Here you go, here's that crazy supporter!

Not my video, but taken from the other end of the stadium as the players are about to enter the pitch. The fans are initially chanting to each other, 'Bosnia is champion!', before the whole stadium begins singing, 'Who isn't jumping hates Bosnia!' - cue thousands across each stand bouncing!

After taking the lead during the first-half, the Bosnian fans sing a famous song of the iconic Dino Merlin.

The lighting of the flare in the apartments behind the stadium.

The match comes to a conclusion as Bosnia are 3-0 victors over Lithuania. Small cameo appearance from yours truly, just to prove I was actually there (in case you were doubting me).

Outside the stadium, and the car horns are getting a good work-out!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Can this be considered official after 8 months here?

PS. I have managed to get my hands on tickets to the match between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lithuania tonight.

(Can you tell I'm excited?)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Srebrenica love story.

Love is hope in Srebrenica.
There is another story out of Srebrenica that has been receiving media attention across the globe in recent weeks, however, unlike the usual news articles linked to the town, this is one that is refreshingly positive and offers hope.

The story surrounds Almir Salihovic and Dusica Rendulic; a man and woman, both in their 20s, who have fallen in love, moved in together, have a child and are due to marry.

Although the circumstances of their relationship may seem typical or usual upon first-glance, the truth is that, in the grand scheme of things, it is much more significant than that.

Salihovic is a Bosnian Muslim, whilst Rendulic is a Catholic who is the daughter of Serb-Croat parents, meaning their marriage - due to take place in May of 2013 - is believed to be the first mixed-marriage to occur in Srebrenica since the town's infamous massacre in 1995, when more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Serbian forces.

Although some in the divided town have expressed their disapproval toward the relationship, Rendulic said it has not bothered the couple.

"For us, it was easy," she said, adding that she has been accepted and supported by Salihovic's neighbours and family.

The pair's young son, Yusuf, is named after one of Salihovic's six uncles who were killed during the Srebrenica massacre.

"If I had six sons, I would name them all after Almir's late uncles," Rendulic added.

In a region that has been stigmatised by nationalistic and religious divisions amongst people for a number of years, this story provides fresh hope that, with new generations, change and peace will finally come.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Things I'll miss about Bosnia: #4

A public game of chess in Sarajevo attracts dozens of

Public games of chess

Wow, how I love bearing witness to these!

Public games of chess are an extremely common sight across many towns and cities in Bosnia. They are a favourite pastime of, particularly, elderly citizens, and, boy, do they take the games seriously.

'Big' games, involving larger-than-usual chess pieces, can gather crowds in the dozens, whilst there are also many people who partake in small one-on-one games of table chess outside their apartment buildings, as well as in public parks.

On most occasions, regardless of whether or not it is a 'big' or 'small' game, it all comes together to form some sort of social event; take the coffees (who knows where they get them from), the cigarettes, and whatever else, and there you have it - men sitting down over chess and discussing anything and everything.

Serious Business: A man celebrates during a game
of chess in Sarajevo, February 2004.
Of course, that's not when they are getting all 'antsy' over a contentious chess move, or an important play. (...and you thought football fans are crazy about their sport!)

Maybe I am looking in the wrong places, but you just don't see that sort of thing in Australia.

In fact, Bosnians are so serious about their chess, that they even have an annual international chess tournament staged in Sarajevo.

Further to that, the Bosna Sarajevo Chess Club have been European team champions on a total of four occasions since 1994.

I love it; and walking past these old guys enjoying a game outside always brings a bit of a smile to one's face.

In a day and age when most people are happy to camp themselves in front of their TV set or computer (..ahem..) rather than heading outdoors, I say: Well done, and keep it up, fellas!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Sarajevo's 'Solidarity in Action'

Volunteers will be collecting food and other supplies
outside a number of shopping centres across Sarajevo,
including the newly-built BBI Centar in the downtown
area of the city.
Volunteers began working in Sarajevo today on the 'Solidarity in Action' program, an initiative designed to collect and redistribute food to disadvantaged people throughout the city.

The action - organised by the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina - has seen stalls set up outside a number of Sarajevo's large supermarkets, with volunteers calling on the customers of those stores to spare what they can for the people in need.

The program will run from today and tomorrow, with all food and hygienic supplies collected to be provided to public kitchens and other vulnerable citizens in the Sarajevo district.

It is heart-warming and uplifting to see such initiatives in a country where, despite enduring difficult times, people are still willing to give whatever they can to others less fortunate than themselves.

People can follow updates of the 'Solidarity in Action' program through the Facebook page of Novo Sarajevo's Red Cross group: Hajde! Click here!

Football: Bosnia claim a point in Athens

The Bosnians are satisfied after their 0-0 draw to Greece in
Athens on Friday night.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have maintained their position atop of World Cup qualifying Group G after holding Greece to a goalless draw in Athens last night.

In a match with few highlights, the Dragons' defence held strong to repel a number of Greek attacks on goal, delivering the side a crucial point away from home.

The Greeks should have gone ahead in the fifth minute when Giorgios Samaras set up team-mate Theofanis Gekas, but the striker mis-parried his shot into the post with the goal at his mercy.

For the remainder of the match, clear-cut opportunities on goal for either side were few and far between, and, with possession relatively even (BiH, 53%, slightly nudged the Greeks, 47%, with the ball), it could be said that 0-0 was a fair result.

Although Bosnia remain in first position of the group, they are equal on seven points with Slovakia and Greece, meaning, if they serious about their desire to qualify for Brazil in 2014, they will need nothing short of a victory in Zenica on Tuesday evening against Lithuania.

Here are the current standings of Group G (remember, the top two sides from each group will qualify for the World Cup):

Come on, Dragons ..

Friday, 12 October 2012

Bosnian Friday Fact of the Day

The largest Bosnian community outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in St Louis, USA

St Louis, Missouri, USA. (Source: Capt. Timothy Reinhart / USAF)

It is estimated that more than 50,000 Bosnians - including Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox - call the eastern Missouri city their home.
In fact, St Louis even has its own Bosnian-language newspaper publication titled 'Sabah', which is sold across all of the United States.

Overall, it is believed that there are over 2 million expatriate Bosnians around the world, with around 500,000 based in the United States, followed by an estimated 200,000 in Germany.

Lets not forget that the current population of Bosnia and Herzegovina is thought to be roughly 3.7 million - giving you some idea of how significant these numbers truly are.

Football: Greece host Bosnia-Herzegovina in Athens

Bosnia-Herzegovina is attempting to qualify for their
first major football tournament since the nation's
independence in 1992.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's quest for qualification for the 2014 Brazil World Cup continues tonight as they travel to Athens to take on 2004 European Champions Greece.

With both sides currently sitting atop of Group G after two qualifying matches - BiH is slightly ahead on goal-difference - the match could prove crucial to whether or not one or both nations will qualify for the Brazil tournament.

Only the top two sides from the six-team group will qualify for the World Cup, and with Slovakia hot on their heels in third place, a loss tonight for either side would be a huge set-back.

In their opening two matches, BiH obliterated minnows Liechtenstein 8-1 away from home, before going on to claim another three points with a 4-1 drubbing of Latvia in Zenica; whilst Greece opened their campaign with an impressive 2-1 win over the Latvians in Riga, before backing up with a 2-0 victory over Lithuania on home soil.

If Bosnia's football side - nicknamed 'Zmajevi' (or, 'Dragons') - manage to reach the 2014 World Cup, it will be the first time they have qualified for a major football tournament since becoming an independent nation in 1992.

As for the Greeks, despite their surprisingly lofty position of 10th on the current FIFA World rankings, their national side has failed to reach any great heights since their surprise success at the 2004 Euros.

As has been noted, however, Greece has the surprise factor - demonstrated by their ability to reach the final-eight of the Euro 2012 in June - not to mention that they are a very formidable opponent on home soil.

Ahead of tonight's fixture, just one thing can be certain; the Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens is sure to be the centre of a hot atmosphere, and I, personally, cannot wait to see the outcome of the match.

More than 200 Bosnians are believed to have travelled to Greece to support their side.

Good luck, Bosnia!
Sretno Zmajevi!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Photo of the Day: 10.10.2012

Supporters of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) prepare to depart from Zenica for Athens ahead of Friday's crucial World Cup Qualifying fixture between Greece and BiH.

(Source: Jasmin Hadzic / ZenicaBlog)

Football: BiH - Lithuania sold-out within hours

Zenica's Bilino Polje will host the World Cup Qualifying
fixture between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lithuania on
Tuesday October 16.
In somewhat farcical circumstances, it took just a number of hours on Monday for all tickets to be sold for next week's World Cup Qualifier to be held in Zenica between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lithuania.

After going on sale at Zenica's 'Centrotrans Eurolines' outlet at 9 o'clock in the morning, all tickets for the October 16 fixture had been snapped up by midday - mostly by scalpers.

Restrictions upon purchasing tickets were relatively light, with people able to buy up to five tickets at a time without any need of showing identity cards. Unfortunately - and, apparently, not for the first time - this allowed scalpers to exploit the system by visiting the store back-and-forth several times to purchase a large number of tickets.

However, for those still wanting to attend the match, it is not all doom and gloom. There are still plenty of tickets available on the 'black market'.

As I discovered first-hand today, a number of scalpers are selling tickets for around double the price of the original cost, and only a matter of metres away from the door of the 'Centrotrans Eurolines' store!

Now, it has to be said, it is rather unbelievable that people are able to get away with ticket-scalping, and so publicly.

There are no two ways about it: scalping rips off real fans.

It is time for the authorities to stamp-down on such blatant acts as this.

It is, also, time for the ticketing companies to bring their selling procedures into line; therefore allowing more people to purchase tickets, and at normal prices!


All a bit of a shame, as I was planning on taking my partner to her first ever football match.

Oh well, looks like it will be another game in which we watch it from our couch with, maybe, a drink and bowl of chips!

Good luck, Bosna.

Bosnians embark on Hajj Pilgrimage

Participants of this year's Hajj Pilgrimage depart from
Zenica on Tuesday morning.
More than a hundred citizens from across Bosnia departed on buses on Tuesday morning for the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca.

The 127 participants took off yesterday as part of the Hajj pilgrimage; a yearly event in the Islamic calendar whereby Muslims from around the world descend on the cities of Mecca and Medina.

The pilgrims - comprising of people from Sarajevo, Zenica, Tuzla, Mostar, Kakanj, Tesanj, Travnik, Jajce, Visoko, Vitez and Bosanska Krupa - will drive to Istanbul where they will catch a flight to Jordan, before re-boarding buses to continue their journey into Saudi Arabia.

People of all ages are included in the Bosnians to make this year's Hajj pilgrimage by bus.

At the age of 83, Sarajevo's Aziz Frlj is the oldest person to participate, while 20-year-old Elma Talic, of Zenica, is the youngest.

This year's Hajj is expected to fall between the 24th and 29th of October, with the Bosnian bus travellers predicted to return to BiH on November 3.

Overall, more than 1,200 people from Bosnia and Herzegovina are expected take part in the pilgrimage this year.

Monday, 8 October 2012

BiH's Municipal Elections: Some Interesting Facts.

Municipal elections took place across Bosnia and
Herzegovina on Sunday October 7.
As I reported to you yesterday, citizens in 136 municipalities across BiH went to the polls yesterday for local council and mayoral elections.

Already, just one day later, some facts and figures have been released which have made for some very, uh.. well, interesting reading.

Thanks to state news agency Anadolu, here are some of yesterday's interesting occurrences:

  • Only 53.37% (1.65 million) of registered voters in BiH took to the polling booths yesterday to cast their votes. The nation's Electoral Commission deemed this as 'satisfactory'.
  • A mayoral candidate in the municipality of Odzak was disqualified after it was discovered he had placed 55 'fake' votes for himself in the ballot box.
  • Elections in Srebrenica were temporarily halted on two occasions over the course of the day due to running out of voting slips.
  • In the municipality of East Mostar, a candidate won to the position of mayor with just 96 votes; further intriguing, he only had one rival - whom trailed in the final count by just five votes.
  • In Neum, a town on the BiH coastline, there was only one candidate running for mayor. Unsurprisingly, he received 100% of the vote.
  • For the first time in the history of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a covered woman was elected to the role of mayor. Amra Babic won through to office in the area of Visoko; also making her the first hijab-wearing female to be the leader of a municipality in Europe.
  • In the locality of Jezero, a candidate became mayor with less than 10 votes; while the person with the least amount of votes received just one. Another unsurprising fact; he voted for himself.
  • In Travnik, 1,713 votes were deemed invalid out of the 44,320 which were counted.
  • Out of the 1.5 million BiH citizens living overseas - and of which are permitted to vote in these elections - just 37,359 bothered to cast their vote.
  • It is estimated that almost 9 million BAM ($5.85 million AUD) was spent on political advertising by the competing parties and mayoral candidates. As pointed out by Bosnian news portal Klix, this figure would more-than-likely be enough to fund the monthly pension to more than 30,000 people across BiH.
  • With more than 190 active political parties, BiH holds the record for the highest number of parties in relation to its population. Statistically, there exists one political party for every 20,209 inhabitants in this country.

Politics is a fun game, huh ..?