Creideamh, Cànan agus Cogadh

Observations from a trip to the Balkans (in English below)

Stone Gate, Zagreb
An Geata Cloiche/ Stone Gate, Zagreb

A’ coiseachd tro Zagreb, prìomh bhaile Chroatia bho chionn ghoirid ràinig mi Kamenita Vrata, An Geata Cloiche. Tha soidhne dà-chànanach os a chionn – ann an Chroatianais agus Gearmailtis. Bha an dùthaich uair fo smachd Ìmpireachd na h-Ostaire agus na h-Ungaire. Tha an ailtireachd da-rèir. ‘S e geata a-steach dhan t-seann bhaile a th’ ann. An rud a tha iongantach mu dhèidhinn ‘s e is gu bheil ìomhaigh de Mhuire Mhàthair na bhroinn agus beingidhean feadha gus ùrnaigh a dhèanadh. Ach chan e a-mhàin is gu bheil daoine ag ùrnaigh an sin, chìthear fiù ‘s oileanaich a’ ruigh tron gheata dha na clasaichean aca is iad a’ dèanadh soidhne na croise. Gun teagamh is e àite a th’ ann an Croatia far a bheil an creideamh Caitligeach gu mòr mar phàirt dhe beatha poblach na dùthcha.

Sarajevo panoramic view
Sarajevo, BiH

An uair sin chaidh mi a-steach gu Bosnia is Herzegovina. ‘S e àite iongantach a th’ ann an Sarajevo far a bheil an Taobh an Iar a’ coinneachadh ris an Taobh an Ear. Chìthear sin ann an ailtireachd a’ bhaile agus cuid dheth a’ leantainn stoidhle na h-Ostaire agus cuid eile dheth a’ coimhead Turcach gun diochuimhneachadh air a’ phàirt a tha Serbeach far a bheil daoine a’ sgrìobhadh ann an litrichean Greugach. ‘S iad sin na trì cultaran mòra a thug buaidh air na Balkanan. Tha cuimhne agam air na dealbhan uabhasach dhen chogadh ann an Sarajevo agus chìthear tuill dhe na peileirean fhathast ann an iomadach togalach. Dh’innse tè-naidheachd ionadail dhomh gun robh na deicheadan mhìltean a’ coiseachd airson sìth beagan làithean mus do thòisich an cogadh. Air an là ron a’ chogadh bha i fhathast cinnteach nach biodh cogadh ann.

Sarajevo city centre meeting of cultures
Cultaran Muslamach is Crìosdail a’ tachart an Sarajevo/ Meeting of Muslim and Christian cultures

Ghlac mi tacsi suas dhan Dùn Bhuidhe far a bheil deagh shealladh air a’ bhaile. Thuirt an dràibhear rium gun robh Sarajevo làn agus nach robh Muslamaich an àite idir a’ cur fàilte air Muslamaich Arabach. Na bheachdsan cha robh cultar aca. Chuir sinn iongnadh mòr orm is nach eil Muslamach a’ cur fàilte air Muslamach eile. Gu dearbha chan eil a h-uile duine an sin dhen aon bheachd. Ach thug e orm smaoineachadh mar a thachair dha na Gearmailtich a b’ fheudar an dachaighean fhàgail ann an Silesia, Pomerania agus Pruisia an Ear às dèidh an dàrna cogaidh agus na sgìrean sin an-diugh a’ buntainn ris a’ Pholainn. Bha na sinnsirean agamsa nam measg. Cha deach fàilte a chur orrasan sna sgìrean Gearmailteach far an deach iad. Chaidh magadh orra.

Mura h-eilear fiù ‘s a’ cur fàilte air daoine bhon aon treubh is beagan iongnadh nach eilear a’ cur fàilte air fògaraich bho threubhan eile. Dh’fhaodte gu bheil cuid dhen sin a’ tachairt leis nach eil a h-uile duine a’ gabhail ri cleachdaidhean ionadail. Tha sin fìor airson cuid dhen luchd-turais bho Cheann a Tuath na Roinn Eòrpa a bhios a’ dol air làithean-saora air tràighean a’ Chinne a Deas is a tha airson fògaraich a thig dhan Roinn Eòrpa. Tha mise air tòrr mhearachdan gòrach a dhèanadh thall thairis, ach bidh mi daonnan a’ feuchainn ri beagan fhaclan dhen chànan ionnsachadh far a bheil mi, rud a chòrdas ri daoine. Mar a tha boireannach Muslamach ga chur: “Chan eil an sluagh sgaraichte. ‘S e an luchd-poileataigs a tha gar sgaradh a chum buannachd dhaibh fhèin.”

 

Divide and Conquer

The Stone Gate leads into the old town of Zagreb. It has a shrine to the Virgin Mary and not only do people pray there, but even students running to their classes in the morning can be seen making the Sign of the Cross. Catholicism is obviously very much part of every day life in Croatia.

Sarajevo city centre meeting of cultures
Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian architecture meet

In neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina the picture is more mixed. Austro-Hungarian, Turkish and Orthodox architecture represent the three ethnicities and religions in Sarajevo. I remember the pictures of the war that went around the world. Bullet holes in apartment blocks are a constant reminder. A local journalist tells me a short time before the war tens of thousands marched to prevent it – in vain.

Sarajevo

A taxi driver provides the unsolicited information that local Muslims wouldn’t welcome Arab Muslims because they had no culture. It really surprises me. But then I think of those Germans – like my own ancestors – who had to leave their homes in territories that now belong to Poland. They weren’t welcomed in present day Germany at all.

If individuals of the very same people aren’t welcomed it is maybe less surprising that not everyone receives refugees with open arms. Maybe this is sometimes due to incomers, tourists and refugees alike, not respecting local customs. I have made many a stupid mistake when abroad, but I always learn a few words of the language, which often brings a smile on peoples’ faces. A Muslim lady puts it this way though: “We aren’t divided, politicians divide us for their own gain.”

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