Foča is one of the local case studies I have chosen for my research. Located in southeastern Bosnia, bordering Montenegro, the region is crossed by the beautiful and famous Drina river and shrouded in vast and thick forests. Before the war of 1992-1995, the municipality of Foča included the small town and region of Ustikolina, that has been since separated from it, and integrated into the Bosnian Muslim/Bosniak-Bosnian Croat entity (Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine – FBiH) of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As for Foča and its surroundings, it is part of the Bosnian Serb entity (Republika Srpska – RS).
I have planned my fieldwork for 12 days (May 21st-June 2nd 2021) and decided to base myself in the town of Foča itself. Before the war, 11 mosques were present there, including one of the most magnificent in all of the Balkans, the Aladža (built in 1550-1551) ; all of them were destroyed during the war (as well as all of these located in the municipality), and only 3 have been reconstructed so far, which sadly makes of Foča the city with the fewest number of reconstructed mosques in all of the country.
Over the past few days, I have been visiting the city mosques, as well as the sites of the destroyed ones, thanks to the imam of the Aladža, who kindly offered his help. I visited other mosques in the countryside, notably the (reconstructed) Turhan Emin-begova of Ustikolina, acknowledged as the oldest mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina (originally built ca. 1448). I also met other religious officials and local people, who provided me with precious information and inputs. The upcoming days will be dedicated to the same type of fieldwork, that has been very fruitful.
Upon my return in Sarajevo, I plan to meet the representative of the association of the Bosniak war victims of Foča (Udruženje žrtava rata Foča 92-95) and a renowned scholar that has been collecting and gathering numerous data and pictures related to the region of Foča and the war crimes committed there, including the destruction of all of its mosques.
Photos credits : Robin Cognée (May 2021). Please find the descriptions below :) and don't miss the video !
(From the top to the bottom and from left to right) First row : - View of Foča with the Aladža mosque in the forefront and the Careva in the background. - Muslim cemetery next to the mosque of Cvilin (under reconstruction) ; view on the Turhan emin-begova mosque of Ustikolina. - Careva mosque of Foča. Second row : - Calligraphic panel (Bosnian levha) inside the mosque of Jabuka, near Ustikolina. - Aladža, Foča. - Mihrab and minber of the Aladža.
Third row : - Old muslim grave in the cemetery of Cvilin, near Ustikolina. - Interior of the Turhan Emin-begova mosque of Ustikolina. - Ruins of the Mehmed-paša Kukavica mosque in Foča. Fourth row : - Mouth of the Ćehotina river, flowing into the Drina, Foča. Video (below) : - View on the Drina and the Atik Ali-pašina mosque, the third mosque reconstructed so far in Foča, alongside the Aladža and the Careva.