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Night view across the famous Mostar bridge. Student playing the guitar in school. Young  Bosnian man interviewed overlooking the city. Two young muslim students.

Rough Cut
Bosnia: Divided We Stand
Can we agree on a hero?
 

 

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Length: 8:13

Najlae Benmbarek and Durrell Dawson

The work of Durrell Dawson (right) has appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and on Salon.com, NPR, Chicago Public Radio and ABCNews.com. He currently works at NBC News in New York. Najlae Benmbarek (left) is a journalist from Morocco who came to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship. Her most recent reporting on the U.S. military presence in East Africa is scheduled to air on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

"Divided We Stand," FRONTLINE/World's latest story from Bosnia-Herzegovina, is a departure from our past Bosnia coverage. As always it starts by recalling the tragedy of the civil war in the 1990s, but this time we focus on young people, a new post-war generation looking for ways to move on.

The unofficial capital of Herzegovina, the ancient Ottoman city of Mostar lies along the Neretva River and is the fifth-largest city in the country.

The word Mostar means "old bridge," but that very bridge, the town's most famous symbol, was blown up during the war, along with the city's long history of religious tolerance and integration. Before the war, children from different ethnic groups went to school together. Today, they are mostly segregated. Even though the bridge has been rebuilt, Mostar is still very much divided, with Muslim Bosnians living on one side and Christian Croats on the other.

Najlae Benmbarek and Durrell Dawson traveled to Bosnia to find out how communities are working to overcome the divisions of the past. They made a surprising discvovery. The youth of Mostar had joined forces to commission a statue of a hero -- someone agreeable to them all. When churches, mosques, bridges -- even the airport -- were rebuilt in this war-torn region, all created controversy based on whether the place was historically Croat, Muslim or Serb. The statue commissioned by these young people stands as the only monument erected in postwar Bosnia without an uproar.

The mastermind behind the statue idea was Serb writer Veselin Gatalo, who told Benmbarek that the choice they made symbolized universal justice and reminded many in the group of their childhood.

For those of you who don't recall the news coverage around the unlikely hero's unveiling, we will let the video itself reveal their choice.

Joelle Jaffe
Associate Interactive Producer

REACTIONS

Admir Maric - Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I'm from Mostar. Mila is absolutely right about the name of our city, it got its name after the bridgekeepers - mostari. But, for the sake of truth, I must say that they (Serbs) didn't build Mostar, not 5 centuries ago, nor ever, she probably knows it as well as I do. Serbs left Mostar according to the agreement signed by Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman, although local Serbs didn't know it at that time.

Mila Vukojevic - Toronto, ON
I'm from Mostar. Mostar derives its name from "mostari," the bridge's attendants and city's gatekeepers. "Most" does mean bridge, but "old bridge," or "stari most" did not lend meaning to this city as the fellow profiled in the documentary stated. The bridge wasn't considered "old" 400 years ago and Mostar has had the same name since its erection.I find this documentary highly biased - there's no mention of the third ethnic group, the Serbs, in the conversation of the youth. Two genocides were committed against Serbs, in both world wars. Ironically, the ethnic cleansing was so effective that even though Serbs made up the majority of Mostar's population prior to WWII, they no longer live in this once great and beautiful city, a city they built 5 centuries ago. Stop ignoring the facts and face them. Otherwise, don't make documentaries...

Steve Ferroon - Rock Town, Australia
The tall one speaks so well. Love his moustache. A long way from the Richmond Club.

Toronto, ON, Canada
It is sad that the report overlooked the third nation - Serbs. They were a huge part of Mostar before the war and now you can find very few of them living - mostly expelled. Croats and Muslims - Bosniaks have responsibility for that, too - not just that they can't live together now.

Tony Hayden - Omaha, NE
I was apart of SFOR stationed in Bosnia while in the Army. Great things were done there to achieve peace and stability. Lessons learned in Bosnia should be applied to Iraq.

Crystal James - Mentone, CA
The unveiling was quite a surprise, yet remembering Bruce Lee also made me smile. Nice to see people hoping for unity and taking small steps that all people of Mostar can be a part of.

Maati Benmbusy - San Francisco, CA
From PBS to CNN's 360, Djibouti to Mostar, Naj had the vision and always made it happen, well done, really WELL DONE.

(anonymous)
This is great work!

Amine Benneftah - Berkeley, CA
Very well done! It's important to hear the youth perspective. I like the comments by the young fellow about fighting with bare hands. If that were the case in modern warfare, we will not see planes dropping bombs on civilians or the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium destroying lives and the environment.