IKETH annual conference 2014
Healing Memories and Making Peace - Women's Contributions

IKETH Annual Conference, 23-30 May, 2014 in Bosnia and Herzegowina

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Welcome to multicultural Bosnia-Herzegowina
Stories of  Pain and Suffering

"We don't want revenge. But we shall not forget" the Mothers of Srebrenica told us when we said "Goody bye" after an intensive encounter at the memorial site of Potocari. The women had walked us through the enormous field  of white tombstones pointing out to us where their loved ones were buried. More than 8300 boys, youngsters, Bosniak Muslim men of all ages were killed in the genocidal massacre of July 11, 1995.

As we listened to the women and their stories of loss and pain we realized again that such suffering can and must never be forgotten. As European women we have to remind ourselves that sustainable peace and religious harmony on our continent cannot be taken for granted , but needs continuously to be struggled for - as everywhere in the world!

Honouring the memory of those murdered: The Potocari memorial, Srebrenica

The visit to Srebrenica was one among several visits during the 2014 Annual Conference of IKETH that took place May 23 - 30, 2014 in Bosnia and Herzegowina. It was the first one of a series of encounter conferences that IKETH plans to organize at regular intervals: One year an encounter in a European country with special experiences or problems in interreligious living together, one year a study conference to reflect on burning issues in interreligious dialogue. The aim is to widen the IKETH network, to make it truly European and genuinely interreligious
Sarajevo, city in the mountains.
Meeting around the table - Visit to Medica Zenica
Education for Girls Has a Long Tradition

During our stay in BiH we paid a visit to the Islamic Faculty  of Sarajevo, meeting with the Dean Dr. Busatlic and with Prof. Zehra Alispahic, who emphazised the historical and religiously anchored importance of education for girls and women. We also got to know the women's organisation NAHLA  which  offers educational activities for women, among others also religious and ethical education as a basis for peace-building. As Azra Ibrahimovic of NAHLA informed us they have developed a  training programme  for dialogue which teaches skills in dialogue and non-violent communication.
A highlight was IKETH's day long visit to Medica Zenica,  reknowned for its work in trauma rehablitiation and peace-building. Its path-finding therapeutic and enabling educational and job training approach is well known in BiH, but it is also more and more acknowledged world wide - recent visitors included actress Angelina Jolie and British foreign secretary William Hague. Sabiha Husic-Haskic who leads the centre is an IKETH member and acted as our thoughtful local host for the encounter in BiH. We got to know a whole range of Medica's activities, among others also Medica's work with men.
In the garden of Forma F, Mostar
How our Religions Define Violence - Visit to Mostar

A full day excursion took us to Mostar, the capital of  Herzegowina. Our host there was Forma F and its director Mirjava Penava, who  had assembled a representative  group of women to meet with IKETH.  We shall not foget the encounter in the garden, "between the rose and the figtree", with the tables filled with bowls full of delicious cherry and strawberries and women eager to share their stories and activities.
There was the Jewish Interreligious Council, the women's organisation Zene BIH, the network of Croatian women. While trauma work and dealing with violence also remains a priority , the women have initiated a theological reflection process on how their religions define violence. In the Interreligious Council (which is organized regionally) they have established a women's network. Forma F is coordinating a joint project on equality of gender in the religions of BiH, which aims at analysing women's positions in church and mosque.
Healing is a Long Process

Everywhere we realized that even twenty years after the war trauma work is still necessary. But there are now successful attempts at structural responses. In Medica we learned that finally the effort to gain legal recognition and recompensation for war rape victims bore fruit: Women can receive a small pension. A victory not without problems.
However, the economic situation of women still remains precarious (with the overall unemployment rate close to one third of the population). And the rise of domestic violence is unsettling.  Many people (men and women alike) also feel that the country is trapped in its cumbersome political structure, as established by the Dayton agreement of 1995. It did work to stop the war, but as it follows the old ethnic lines it does little to overcome them towards a more integrated future.
We are Part of Europe!

Tourism student Sascha, our young guide in Mostar, told us several times "We are  a part of Europe. We are European Muslims. We have stone caves 15.000 years old. We are a mixture of everything, our old kingdom, the Ottoman empire and the Jews from Spain, the Habsburg monarchy and Tito as well. We are part of Europe".
This plea still rings in my ears. Who could overlook this meeting point of  cultures and religions, that speaks through architecture and life styles. The many  successes  to live together peacefully, and the failures to do that, which caused so much suffering.
And the friendliness and hospitality of the people to who we owe so much!
We'll stay connected!

Reinhild Traitler, IKETH Board

News from the Board

In Sarajevo we said Good Bye to outgoing Board members:
Hilal Kurt, Muslim, Germany, chair of the Board
Dr. Catherine Gibson, R. Cath. Christian, Ireland
Thank you for your time, patience and dedication to IKETH.

We welcome again or anew
Dr. Reinhild Traitler,  Christian, reformed, Switzerland, chair of the Board
Rev. Susanne Wolf,  Christian Lutheran, Germany, treasurer
Lee Wax, Jewish, UK
Drs. Martina Heinrichs, Christian, R. Cath., Netherlands
Naida Huskanovic, Muslim, Bosnia and Herzegowina

Introduction to the programme: Sabiha Husic-Haskic, director of Medica Zenica
Sabiha Husic-Haskic lecturing
Halima Husic and Irma Siljak translating the lecture of Prof. Alispahic, Islamic Faculty (left).
Visiting the Orthodox Cathedral
Read more about the conference >>
Report from the conference 2015 >> 
Photos from the conference 2014 >>
Photos from the conference 2012 >>
Photos from the conference 2011 >>
The lecture of Rebecca Masterton 2010 >>