Sunday, June 19, 2022

Zulkaedah 20, 1443: Hosting a Croat...(U)

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, 'Selawat' (blessings) and 'salam' (peace be upon) Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


"And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me." (Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51: 56-57)

RECENTLY I was almost lost for words when a Croat stepped inside my house. She was Franka Gulin, 32, from Sibenik, Croatia but worked in China. She had a stint at China Radio International in Beijing and had been there for three years.

Franka was holidaying in Malaysia and during her stay here, her friend, Nelawati Ngadul from DBP with some companions brought her for 'sightseeing' and as Nelawati was my wife's friend, they choose to pay us a visit.

Subhanallah (Glory to God), I was least expected 'to have a Croat inside my house' ''thinking' of the Croats was not a positive one either...perhaps events during the Yugoslav particularly Bosnian war in early 1990-s painted ugly pictures in my mind about them.

During that time I was at a foreign desk of a daily newspaper; I edited and translated news on the conflict and fighting between the Bosnian Muslims, Orthodox Christian Croats and Serbs and splashed them on the pages of international section of the paper.

Regarding the war, Wikipedia noted that both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia were engaged in the early 1990-s Yugoslav wars, armed conflicts which followed the break-up of SFR Yugoslavia into five sovereign countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, and FR Yugoslavia (later broke up into Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo).

Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs (including Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs) fought each other exchanging alliances in a series of conflicts. The majority of the wars were fought on Bosnia–Herzegovina territory, where Croats established the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia.

However, after the wars Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia retained the same border they had during SFR Yugoslavia, and through the Dayton Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two entities based on three constituent peoples: Republika Srpska (for Serbs) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (for Bosniaks and Croats). According to the CIA World Factbook, 7,269 Croatian refugees still live in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country has 131,600 internally displaced persons.

"Well, now I have a Croat inside my house; oh, on what subject am I going to talk to her," my mind kept on thinking and luckily (Alhamdulillah, all praise to Allah), 'it came suddenly into my mind' that the Croats were good in football and several years ago their national team had even appeared in a World Cup.

After exchanging greetings and making ourselves comfortable, I tried to attract Franka attention by telling her how I admired their football national team which had appeared in Euro and World Cups. She was interested and mentioned a few names of players such as Davor Suker which I too had heard.

Suker was the 1998 FIFA Word Cup tournament's top scorer which was held in France. This tournament was Croatia's first after gaining independence. Surprisingly Croatia finished third; it is interesting to note (for Malaysian team please wake up) on admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world but following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side rose to third place in the rankings!

Franka who claimed to be fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and of course Croatian; said she was fascinated to see the various races living harmony in Malaysia. "Your countrymen are so lucky, you don't have to go to China to see a Chinese or go to India to see an Indian," she said philosophically, perhaps thinking about her own country and region which was devastated by war between the Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs about two decades ago.

"As a journalist who had travel around the globe, my advise to people of diverse ethnics and religions to respect one another...that's the key of living in peace and harmony," she advised us.

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