|One of Prijedor's main streets decked with flags on January 9. Photo: BIRN.|
“What good can come of this?”
Amela, a Bosniak resident of Prijedor in the country’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity, was worried by the nationalist speeches, the ceremonies and the rest of the clamour around the biggest-ever celebration of January 9 - the Bosnian Serbs’ controversial Republic Day.
“I am just contemplating how to get my kids out of here. After all of this, I am even more convinced that they should go - as far away from here as possible,” Amela told BIRN.
For years, the Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs who live side-by-side in the town of Prijedor in the north-west of Republika Srpska have been trying to circumvent the ethnic tensions that usually accompany such showpiece events.
But the task proved particularly hard this year, since Republika Srpska was openly defying Bosnia's Constitutional Court, which had ruled that the holiday was discriminatory towards non-Serbs and thus unconstitutional.
The entity’s government decided to go ahead with the spectacle anyway, boosting Serb nationalist feelings across Republika Srpska, triggering anger and condemnation from Bosniaks and Croats across the country, and testing the fragile co-existence in the few remaining multi-ethnic areas such as Prijedor.
Prijedor’s local government was told to hoist Republika Srpska flags and other decorations on all the main streets and public buildings.