Sarajevo sometimes makes the claim to be "Little Jerusalem", because of the presence of 4 big monothestic religions in it's city centre. There are a big Mosque, a Orthodox church, a Catholic cathedral and Synagoge in an area of about 200 square meters. The claim does not come out of nothing.
Notwithstanding the war, the religions live very well together. They even use eachother. A nice example:
Jewish evening services usually start at sunset. Last year, during the the evening service on Rosj Hasjana, Jewish new year, the rabbi, instead of using his watch or a Jewish calendar, used the sunset call for prayer by the Muezzin on the nearby mosque as an indicator when to start the service. In most other countries in the world this would be unthinkable.
Of all the abovementioned religions, only the Catholics celebrate something on the 24th of December. However, when I passed by the cathedral yesterday evening before the midnight mass, a big crowd of people was standing in front of the church. The better part of them were not Catholics.
One of my friends told me she had never missed a midnight mass ever. She is a Muslim. It suprised me, and I asked around, but it turned out that her attendance at on of the most sacred masses in Catholisism is not exceptional. Apparently half of the packed church is filled with non-Christians. It is considered a nice outing, the mass, and it is a social event for a lot more people than just the Catholics.
That is interesting. In the Netherlands this would not happen. There religion is defined by believe, and to a much lesser extent by the social connotation surrounding it.
Holland is a secular society. I applaud that. However, as a result society does not really know anymore how to deal with religion. It tends to confuse it with culture, and as a result cultures and religions get insulted. In respons to this, religion becomes part of the public debate. Which than again results in a discussion in which people feel forced to take a stand. End of the story is that the socializing aspects of religion- bringing people together- are lost. No more opium of the people, but opium for the people.......
Although religion is part of society in BiH, it is a topic that is preferrably not discussed at lenght, for reasons that lie in the recent history of the country. The good thing about this is that going to eachothers services is not an issue. Going to a service is a social, more than a religious thing. Here religion as such was and maybe is the devider. However, it is also regarded as the socialiser it was meant to be. Unfortunately I have not figured out how that is possible in a country, that 15 years a go fought a war that was allegedly over religion. Maybe because religion was just the PR-reason. And was the real reason Power. It always was. From the bible onwards already. No matter which one you would read.