Confronting prejudices in face to face encounters with representatives of marginalized groups, like Roma people, Jews, LGBT and Muslim women with hijab is painful but important step in intercultural continuum development. OnSeptember 13, 2020, the TPO Foundation organized the VII and final EMIL TOT training. The final step in the strengthening intercultural and interreligious competencies training covered BH teachers and involved true validation of knowledge and skills, rather than the classic test. The training was facilitated by profesor Zilka Spahić Šiljak and guest lecturers were Indira Bajramović, Almina Musa, Mirza Halilčević and Igor Kožemjakin.
From the perspective of Roma men and women, Indira Bajramović confronted teachers with the ingrained prejudices she faces, such as: “Did anyone tell the gypsies to wash their hands?” “Why gypsies are resistant to COVID-19?” “What does a gypsy sing when he bathes? – Water doesn’t help, mother.”
Almina Musa explained to the participants the unfair and unkind treatments towards women who wear a headscarf and veil, and how they are classified and equated with illiterate and backward women who are subjugate and do not have the right to choose. Some of these statements are: “And what do you need that scarf for, you are a beautiful woman?!” At a job interview: “And you really have to be with that on your head? We’ll call you.”
Mirza Halilčević spoke about LGBT rights, obligations, insults that this group receives every day, about the pride parade and ingrained prejudices. Some of the messages sent to members of the LGBTIQ community are: “The Gas Chamber is the solution for you and fagots like you.” “It is too bad that your father wasn’t gay, you wouldn’t be here now.” “You should all be isolated as far away from Sarajevo as possible.”
Igor Kožemjakin tried to prove to the participants that the statements made against the Jews were a classic delusion and proof of intolerance. Some of these statements addressed to the Jews in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere are: “You invented the Holocaust to make it easier to rule the world!” “Hitler should have killed you all!” “You all need to be put to the gas chambers!” The conclusion of the last EMIL TOT training was that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the state for all of us. We are Roma and Jews and LGBTIQ people, and Muslims and Catholics and Orthodox and others and we should be able to be what we want. Above all the planet Earth is the abode of human beings who share the same fears, desires, aspirations and hopes, and that, if we want the good for the planet, we must be in solidarity with the whole of humanity.