Audio Recording of Interview
An immigrant from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sabina discusses her experiences of religious persecution during the Bosnian War. She describes leaving Bosnia as an adolescent to live in a refugee camp until moving to the United States, where she resettled in Texas.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Sabina Mujanovic
Date: July 18th, 2020
Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina (Phone)
Content Warning: Descriptions of violence
Summary: Sabina Mujanovic, an immigrant from Bosnia Herzegovina, discusses her experiences of religious persecution during the Bosnian War. After leaving Bosnia as an adolescent, her family lived in a refugee camp until moving to the United States.
Topics: Cultural Adjustment, Finances, Language, Mental Health, Politics, Religion, Refugee, Violence, War, Islamophobia
Section 1: (0:00-11:26)
Politics: After Bosnia declared independence, there was a lot of political tension between the political parties and citizens of neighboring countries.
War: The war began in Croatia, roughly 1991. Then, the war moved into Bosnian territory where Sabina and her family were living. Her town was occupied by Serbians and she shares that it was difficult being Muslim in a primarily Serbian area. Bosnians and Croatians were evicted and fired from their jobs at that time. She says that her and her family lived in fear and mainly stayed at home.
Section 2: (11:27-20:55)
Islamophobia: Doctors offered to perform free abortions on Muslim women to limit the Muslim population. A minivan would drive around looking for Muslims and attack them if it found them.
War: The Serbian army randomly searched her family’s apartment. The army robbed and intimidated them. The family felt scared and unsafe in their apartment.
Leaving: Her mother got the family on a list to get out of the city. They left in January of 1995 to go to a refugee camp in Croatia.
Religion: She remembers speaking with her grandmother, who told her that God is with her. She repeated prayers during their journey to keep herself going.
Section 3: (20:56-38:47)
Refugee Camps: She describes what her life was like in the camps. She recalls being free of fear, despite the poor living conditions. She felt that nobody could hurt her family and felt a sense of relief. She and her sister went to school in the city. She went to school for one semester before her family left Croatia. She made friends in the camp and found it hard to say goodbye to those that left. There were religious services at the mosque and Sunda school. The people in the camp were very united and supportive of each other.
Going to America: Her family never intended to go to the United States, as they wanted to stay in Europe and return once the war was over. Her family applied to go to Australia, where her aunt was, but were denied as they were told they didn’t suffer enough to warrant it. The family was then told to apply to go to the United States, where they would have more opportunities. Her father was interviewed and the family’s application was accepted. They then had to go through many checks and were resettled in Dallas, Texas.
Resettling: She arrived with her family on July 11th, the same day a massacre occurred in Bosnia. Texas was very hot when she first arrived and the family was resettled in temporary housing with poor conditions. After a few days, they were transported into their new house. The adjustment was difficult, since nobody spoke English. They were helped by a family who taught them English and took them places they needed to go to. Her parents had to get jobs and pay back the costs of their airplane tickets. She went to school and graduated with her sister. Both her and her sister got jobs working in a grocery store. She was later accepted into the University of Texas at Arlington and started working at a hospital.
Section 4: (38:48-42:30)
Religion: She and her family had to flee Bosnia because of their Muslim identity. She was pleasantly surprised to see that Americans didn’t care as much. Many people wanted to know more about what her and her family believed, as many churches are involved in the resettlement process. Everyone seemed very accepting and willing to learn. Her and her family were accepted by the Muslim community and continue to go to the mosque. Religion was never an issue until 9/11, but nothing has happened to her family.