Why is there a statue of Bruce Lee in Mostar, Bosnia?
“Having a war about religion is like having a fight over who's got the best imaginary friend”
The star attraction of Mostar is the 16th century Ottoman Stari Most (old bridge) - it will take your breath away. As you watch the bridge you almost wonder if Prince Charming will walk across the bridge and whisk you away, it’s a fairy-tale setting. After the main attraction it doesn’t take long to realize among the UNESCO Heritage Site, there are numerous half-destroyed structures all over the city. What happened?
Mostar was the most heavily bombed Bosnian city during the war in 1992 – 1995. The war followed shortly after the break-up of Yugoslavia, due to ethnic tensions between Bosnian Muslims, Catholic Croats and Christian Serbs. If you want more details, you will need to do your own research. My mind is still trying to decipher who, what, when after the demise of Yugoslavia. I’ve heard 6 different versions of the story from Macedonians, Albanians, Bosnians, Serbians, Montenegrins and Kosovars.
I stayed with a Bosnian Muslim family in Mostar, Miran who is now 38 years old was handed a rifle when he was 16 years old to fight for his city. Miran is a great story-teller and he also have some home video footage of the war. I learned how the U.N. stopped delivering supplies to the Bosnian Muslims, many Bosnians starved during this time. Elderly, children, and women were not spared by the Serbs. I heard about a woman who was repeatedly raped by the Yugoslav People’s Army which consisted of mostly Serbs.
Bullet-riddled buildings remain untouched and unrepaired even now, people still live in apartment buildings with bullet holes in them. Even now the Croats live on the west side of the bridge and the Bosnians live on the east side. There is still tension in the region and it will be interesting how the government will keep the peace between the ethnicities.
So why is Bruce Lee in Mostar? In 2005, the city of Mostar decided to select Bruce Lee as a symbol for their city, a symbol that all ethnic groups can rally behind. For the people of Mostar, Bruce Lee represents "loyalty, friendship, skill, and justice."