July 11th marks the 21st anniversary of the genocide of 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica – murdered on account of their Islamic faith.
To mark the start of Srebrenica Memorial Week, a powerful display of unity between people of different backgrounds, faiths, political beliefs and ages was on show at the city peace garden.
The event ran in parallel with events organised throughout the country by Remembering Srebrenica’s network of Community Champions, which brought thousands of people of different communities, ages and faiths together to unite against hatred.
A crowd came together to watch the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Rev. Geoff Read unveil a memorial stone in the city peace garden.
The Chairman of Yorkshire and North East Board, Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw was presented with a cheque for £700 for the Charities Widow Project which supports mothers who lost their husbands, brothers and sons in the genocide.
The cheque was presented by Remembering Srebrencia charity Champion, Naweed Hussain, who visited Bosnia in December 2015 and talked to the survivors and families of the victims.
Naweed said: “It was a very moving visit to Bosnia. I spoke directly to the families who lost loved ones. On this day, 21 years ago, over 8,000 men and boys were butchered on the basis of their religion and visiting the memorial cemetery was very surreal.”
The charity, Remembering Srebrenica, who are organising events all over the country, said that parallels between the anti-Islamic rhetoric in the Balkans in the 1990s and in the UK today are ‘striking’.
Hate crime in the UK, particularly religious hate crime, has risen dramatically, with Tell MAMA reporting a 326% increase in Islamophobic incidents and reports of a 57% increase in hate crime in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum.
Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, Chairman of Remembering Srebrenica said: “Two decades after the genocide, we are determined not only to remember the victims of Srebrenica, but to honour their memories by taking positive action to build better communities. Srebrenica teaches us that prejudice and hatred left unchecked can have catastrophic consequences, not only for the generation that suffers the violence, but for the following generations whose futures are also irreversibly altered.”