Film tells of Bosnian Muslims and Jews saving one another in wars

i24NEWS - Reuters

3 min read
This photograph taken on February 22, 2018, shows a visitor looking at exhibits at a former Jewish temple in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was repurposed into the Museum of Jewish Victims of WWII.
ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFPThis photograph taken on February 22, 2018, shows a visitor looking at exhibits at a former Jewish temple in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was repurposed into the Museum of Jewish Victims of WWII.

Director says she wants the short film to remind the world of the goodness of people during times of conflict

In a traditional Muslim house in the old quarter of Sarajevo, a film has revived two different periods of war during which Bosnian Muslims saved Jews from Nazis and then 50 years later Jews rescued Muslims from Bosnia's besieged capital.

Sabina Vajraca, a US-based film director who herself was a refugee from Bosnia's 1990s war, says she wants her short film to remind the world of the goodness of ordinary people during times of conflict in Europe and the Middle East.

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In May, Vajraca's script won the Holocaust Film Contest held by the Claims Conference, the Jewish organization which secures compensation for Holocaust survivors.

"Evil keeps coming back over and over and wars keep happening over and over and the whole message of this film is that when such an event happens, will you remember your humanity and save others or will you become small and fearful and only think of yourself," Vajraca said in an interview with Reuters.

The film "Sevap/Mitzvah" (A Good Deed) is based on the true story of Muslim woman Zejneba Hardaga and her family who hid the Jewish Kabiljo family at their home, risking their own lives, and helped them escape Nazi-occupied Sarajevo in the 1940s and then move to Israel.

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Fifty years later, during the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo by separatist Bosnian Serb forces, the Jewish community helped the Hardagas leave Sarajevo using fake Jewish identity cards and the Kabiljo family secured them a refuge in Israel.

The Hardagas were recognized in 1984 as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. The honor is bestowed upon non-Jews who helped Jews escape Nazi persecution during the Holocaust. 

The family became the first Muslims awarded Righteous Among the Nations status by Yad Vashem.

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