Rochdale Council of Mosques Commemorating Srebrenica Memorial Day

Rochdale Council of Mosques Commemorating Srebrenica Memorial Day

On 11 July 1995, towards the end of the Bosnian War, a small town called Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces, commanded by General Ratko Mladić . In the days following, in the first ever UN declared Safe Area, Mladić’s men systematically murdered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves. The United Nations called this:

The greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

On 11th July was Srebrenica Memorial Day and the Rochdale Council of Mosques together with Rochdale Council held their annual Remembering Srebrenica Memorial Event at the Golden Mosque, Rochdale.  This year’s theme was “Together We are One.”

The Mayor Councillor Mike Hully were joined by other civic leaders and many members of our local mosque communities to remember the atrocity that took the lives of so many innocent Muslims.

The audience heard from two mothers who were sisters that fled the war and found the Greater Manchester area their refuge.  Sisters Dudia Zilac and Sadia Muiminovic spoke of life before and after the war.  The elder sister, Dudia’s emotional account of what happened on the 11th of July brought tears to the eyes of those present.  Despite the horrors and suffering experienced in the past Sadia Muiminovic now runs the Bosnian School and Society Manchester and shared with her story of positive hope out of the despair of war.

Dudia Zilac, recalled the harrowing moment of the siege of Srebrenica when fathers called their own sons to death as they had been given the false assurance that the war had seized.

Tahir Mahmood of Rochdale Council of Mosques said, “Whilst we cannot change the past, we can and should work together as one community, to ensure we secure a better future for our coming generations.”  He questioned, “on these memorial events we often say, we will never let it happen again, but we have, in Ukraine, in Rohingya, in China, in Palestine sadly we still see people being targeted because of their differences.”

The host of the event, Imam Irfan Chishti MBE stated, “today’s memorial event with the theme of together we are one, has come at a most pertinent time with Britain First once again trying to cause divisions in our town of Rochdale.  We will not allow for any discord in our town, especially on the occasion of SMD – Srebrenica Memorial Day.”

The event concluded with Imam Chishti, leading a poignant prayer that incorporated the 11 pledges our community would take to end hatred and division:

We pledge that when we hear the language of “us and them”, we will reach out and find common ground with our neighbour.

We pledge that, when we hear stereotyping and scapegoating, we will find and share alternative positive stories.

We pledge that, when we see discrimination in our schools or workplaces, we will challenge this and promote equal opportunities for all.

We pledge that, when we hear dehumanising language, we will remind the speaker of our common humanity.

We pledge that, when we see members of our community becoming disenfranchised, we will make a concerted effort to engage and include them

We pledge that, when we hear divisive propaganda, we will challenge this effectively.

We pledge that we will protect those who speak out against human rights abuses.

We pledge that, where we see persecution, we will do everything in our power to protect those who are suffering.

We pledge that, where we believe that extermination is taking place, we will call on our governments and the international community to take immediate action.

We pledge that we will always challenge denial by believing the victims and sharing their stories.

We pledge that we will always choose the side of those who are suffering over the side of the oppressor.

Thank you to all who attended and supported the event today, and for the continuous support and collaboration shown throughout the Rochdale Borough.

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