Pocčitelj, Bosnia – Truth and Reconciliation
The late-morning call of the muezzin beckons throughout the sun-baked hillside, but no-one other than the wife, daughter, and son of the imam answer the call to prayer. While some might attribute the low turnout at the mosque in this tiny, quaint town, which sits perched strategically on the left bank of the Neretva river, to the demands of modern society or to a general moving away from religion, there is perhaps a more sinister reason: much of the Muslim population from Počitelj was killed, expelled, or forced into concentration camps during the 1992-1996 war. Refugees of the war have been encouraged to return but apart from a handful of women who peddle their homemade wares and delicious garden grown fruit along the cobblestone path leading up the hill, there is no evidence that the village is more than sparsely populated. There is an unshakeable feeling of desertion. This feeling combines with a growing sense of injustice the further along the path one walks. Terrible things happened here during the war, atrocious acts that are difficult to excuse. Some atrocities are seemingly beyond repair. Upon reaching the mosque, however, and being invited inside by the smiling imam to witness the namāz, belief in the fundamental possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation is restored. If Hadži Alija’s stunning mosque can be reconstructed, there is hope that the people of Počitelj can heal as well.