- Religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina
There were no reliable government statistics available on the membership of different religious groups. According to the
U.N. Development Program's Human Development Report 2002, Muslimsconstitute 40 percent of the population, Serb Orthodox31 percent, Roman Catholics15 percent, Protestants4 percent, and other groups 10 percent. Bosniaks are generally associated with Islam, Bosnian Croats with the Roman Catholic Church, and Bosnian Serbs with the Serb Orthodox Church. However, many persons who identify with a major ethnoreligious group are atheistsor agnosticswho do not regularly practice any religion. The Jewishcommunity has approximately 1,000 believers and maintains a historic place in society by virtue of centuries of coexistence with other religious communities and its active role in mediating among those communities.
The rate of religious observance is relatively low among the traditional religious groups; however, some areas of significantly greater observance exist, such as among Catholic Croats in the
Herzegovinaregion and among Bosnian Muslims in Central Bosnia. For many Bosnian Muslims, religion often serves as a community or ethnic identifier, and religious practice is confined to occasional visits to the mosqueor significant rites of passage such as birth, marriage, and death. Nevertheless, religious leaders from the Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox communities claimed that all forms of observance were increasing among young persons as an expression of increased identification with their ethnic heritage, in large part due to the national religious revival that occurred as a result of the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Younger believers who grew up in the post-communist period also have more freedom to practice their religion and more access to religious education] . Leaders from the three largest religious communities observed that they enjoyed greater support from their believers in rural areas of Bosnia than from those in urban centers such as Sarajevoor Banja Luka. Ethnic cleansingduring the 1992-95 war caused internal migration and refugeeflows, which segregated the population into separate ethnoreligious areas. Increased levels of returns, which peaked in 2002, continued to slow significantly, leaving the majority of Serb Orthodox adherents living in the RS and the majority of Muslims and Catholics in the Federation. Within the Federation, distinct Muslim and Catholic majority areas remain. However, returns of Serb Orthodox adherents and Muslims in recent years to their prewar homes in western Bosnia and Muslims to their prewar homes in eastern Bosnia have shifted the ethnoreligious composition in both areas. For example, the prewar population of the eastern RS town of Bratunacwas 64 percent Bosniak. In 1995 the population was almost completely Serb; in 2007, after the return of 6,500 Bosniaks, the population was 38 percent Bosniak. Similarly, in Prijedor Municipality in the RS, approximately half of the prewar Bosniak population of 49,500 returned, partially reversing the effects of ethnic cleansing. The number of Catholics returning to central Bosnia and the RS, as well as of Serbs returning to the Federation, was negligible.
There are eight muftis (Islamic scholars) located in major municipalities:
Sarajevo, Bihac, Travnik, Tuzla, Gorazde, Zenica, Mostar, and Banja Luka. The more conservative Islamic communities in Bosnia are located in towns such as Travnik, Bocinja/Zavidovici, Tesanj, Maglaj, Bugojno, and Zenica. The Catholic community maintains its Bishops' Conference as an overarching organizational and regional structure, with bishops residing in Mostar, Banja Luka, and Sarajevo; the Franciscan order maintains its strongest presence in central Bosnia near Sarajevo and in Herzegovina. The Serb Orthodox Church maintains its greatest influence in the RS, with the most influential bishops residing in Banja Luka, Trebinje, and Bijeljina. The Jewishcommunity, like most other small religious groups in Bosnia, including Protestants, has its strongest membership in Sarajevo. There are several small Christian denominations throughout the country. Missionaryactivity is limited but growing. Some foreign missionaries preached forms of Islam that tend to be intolerant of other religions and other interpretations of Islam.
Religious freedom in Bosnia and Herzegovina
* United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90167.htm Bosnia and Herzegovina: International Religious Freedom Report 2007] . "This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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