In a world that still holds up the burden of racisms and prejudice, the struggle of vanquishing differences between various religious sects and political groups that emerged vibrantly back in the late 20th century sets an exemplary path for leaders today to follow.
The legendary Bosnian leader, Alija Izetbegović, who dedicated his entire life in the process of protecting human rights of Bosnian Muslims who were subjected to brutal crimes and violence by the neighboring countries, with his visionary and revolutionary thoughts played an important role during the dramatic changes that took place post the World War II.
Born in 1925, Alija was always driven by his strong moral compass. For him, his ethics and his moral principles served him as a winning weapon in all battles. According to him, ethics added meaning and purpose to life.
He studied from the ‘University of Sarajevo’ with a degree in arts, laws, and science. His life journey began when he first appeared in the frontline as a civil right activist of an organization established by Sheikh Muhammad Kharji and Sheikh Cassim Dobreje.
It was in 1946 that he was first arrested when he was a twenty-one year old youngster. He was condemned for being a part of a group/organization that expounded religious freedom and human rights. He was sentenced to jail for 3 years. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an end to his hardship. In 1949, young Izetbegović was once again imprisoned, as per the orders received from a special military court. This time he was given a five-year sentence. His crime - active support behind the Young Muslim Organization. Izetbegović spent his youth behind the bars thinking and strengthening his spirit of establishing a multicultural Bosnia once again.
Later in August of 1983, Izetbegović along with eleven other scholars was sentenced to 14 years in prison. It was during this time that Izetbegović wrote his book, “Notes from Prison: 1983-88”. In his book, he encompasses his experience at the prison cell and how resistance grew in him during all these years.
Izetbegović soon faced national and international Media under his virtue of engagement with the social and political affairs of the country. In 1990, he founded the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and won the elections with a majority in 1992. The man who spent years in jail yet, filled with optimism and encouragement, had made it through all the agonies and challenges life put him through. With his party gaining central power, Izetbegović was elected as the first President of the country. Later, he also announced Bosnia-Herzegovina an independent republic.
Although Izetbegović was now the president of a young republic country, an end to criticism and racial crimes was not yet achieved. During the Croat-Bosniak war in 1993, the Croats destroyed the Mostar bridge (also known as Stari Bridge). Underlining their catastrophic act falsely as strategically driven, the Croats through this destruction attacked the symbolic importance of the Bridge, which was to connect diverse communities across it.
Despite the sustained attacks and strenuous efforts of the neighboring countries to curb rising unity and ethnicity in Bosnia, the Bosnian Leader always taught his fellow countrymen and soldiers to be superior morally first. He believed that it is this superiority that will fetch them their ultimate goal. For him, instituting peace was a fundamental duty, a greater win, or “greater jihad” over any other military victory. Rising international pressure ultimately brought peace in 1995.
Finally, he stepped down from the presidential throne in 2000. After he grimly fell ill, the greatest revolutionary thinker died in 2003. His eternal story of life struggle is inspiring, making him worthy of the title “wise king”.