Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 17:20 pm (KSA) 14:20 pm (GMT)

Clashes end Bosnia's first-ever gay festival

Bosnian police control hostile crowd as Bosnia's first-ever gay festival opened in Sarajevo
Bosnian police control hostile crowd as Bosnia's first-ever gay festival opened in Sarajevo

Dozens of Muslim protesters attacked participants of Bosnia's first-ever gay rights festival in Sarajevo on Wednesday, injuring at least two journalists and one police officer.

The scuffle broke out at the end of the opening ceremony of the four-day festival in front of the Academy of Fine Arts in downtown Sarajevo.

Police said at least eight people were injured when attackers dragged some people from vehicles and beat others in the street. A policeman was also injured.

Sarajevo hospital said six people were admitted with head wounds and that a Danish visitor was the most seriously hurt.

"When I was getting out of the academy, I was suddenly struck in the back," Pedja Kojovic, a local journalist, told reporters. "Three other people then came running and beat me up."

Emir Imamovic, a journalist who tried to help Kojovic, was severely beaten, police said.

A heavy police deployment prevented more violence from spoiling the event, with a security cordon keeping protestors shouting "kill the gays" and "Allahu Akbar" (a Muslim expression meaning God is Greatest) at bay.

About 50 people participated in the opening day of the festival, which had already prompted fears of violence.

Islamic media campaigned this month against the organization of the festival during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and anonymous death threats were made against its organizers and media that supported it.

Organizers said the timing of the indoor festival of art, film and workshops about sexual minorities was coincidental.

Many, including members of various ethnic political parties, have declared homosexuality an illness and labeled the behavior deviant.

Sarajevo, known for centuries for the peaceful coexistence of its Muslims, Christians and Jews, became a majority Muslim city after the 1992-95 war.

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