Chapter 12: Human rights and religion in the Balkans
Eastern Europeans celebrated the end of the Cold War as a great ‘opening’. While the Germans had their wall, the opening represented the physical tearing-down of the barrier and the flood of humanity pouring from one side to the other. The Czechs had their bridges and castles; throwing gates wide open, they marched to the castle (na hrad!), blasting 1980s dance music from cheap transistor radios. The Poles had their charismatic labour leaders, their poets and their dreamers, many of whom were suddenly set free from their dark jail cells. The people of the south Balkans _ in particular those living in what was then Yugoslavia _ were less clear about what needed to be opened. To be sure, they had plenty of political prisoners crying for release as well as their own flows of cross-border humanity. Yet they were already considerably ‘open’. As the 1984 site of the Winter Olympics, Sarajevo was a jewel in the crown of Yugoslavia, a city neither east nor west, a place where citizens boasted that they ‘had the best passport in the world’, because it was ‘accepted almost everywhere’.
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