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The role of religious leaders in the process of reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the case of Bosnian imams
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CitationOmerovic, N. (2017). The role of religious leaders in the process of reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina : the case of Bosnian imams. (Unpublished master's thesis). Ibn Haldun University Alliance of Civilizations Institute, Istanbul.
The aim of this study is to explore the role of Muslim religious leaders in reconciling the divided society in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their contributions to the process of peacebuilding. Even though religion had been misused for nationalist causes during the war in Bosnia, research conducted in societies with histories similar to that of Bosnia, suggest that religion can be a powerful source in peacemaking and religiously based individuals impactful peacemakers. Inspired by the organic peacebuilding framework (Lederach, 1997, 1998), this research defines imams as middle – level leaders and examines their position in the overall reconciliation processes. Based on nine in – depth interviews with imams from the cities of Banja Luka, Srebrenica, Bratunac, Kiseljak, Orašje and Prozor this thesis’s central argument is that local imams are effective religious peacemakers. Compared with the top – level leaders of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ICBH), these local religious representatives have more opportunities to contribute to the reconciliation process in their communities. Imams at the local level utilize religious values and use three types of strategies to reconcile local communities: the individual, relationship or structure – centered approach. They affirm the importance of cooperation, relationship building, and rapprochement for the Bosnian society and act upon the improvement of economic and religious conditions, as well as inter – communal relations between Bosniaks, Bosnian Croats and Serbs.