New York is home to many Bosnians, who are split into Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks). Bosnian Serbs tend to associate with local Serbs, and Bosnian Croats likewise associate with the local Croatian community. Bosnian Muslims have cultivated a distinct community which has its own contacts with local Muslims from the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Sandzak) as well as with other Muslims in the area.
Regardless of whether they are Serb, Croat or Muslim, most Bosnians arrived in New York city during or shortly after the war in Bosnia (from 1992 to 1995) and settled in Astoria.
The Bosnian Muslims are well organized around religious and social organizations. They are the primary audience of at least two Islamic centers, the Bosnian Hercegovinian Islamic Center (25-17 Astoria Boulevard, Astoria) and the Islamic Unity and Cultural Center of Plav-Gusinje (Bosnian Muslim Community of New York, 31-33 12th Street, Astoria). They are also the primary community served by the Ali Pasha Mosque in Astoria.
The Bosnian American Association Of New York (26-40 18th Street, Astoria) is the community's central social organization, and was recently featured at Ethnic Communities.org. The BAA was initiated in 1997 to help meet the needs of newly arrived Bosnians and to help them acclimate themselves to New York, and to the United States. The Bosnian American Association was finally formed in 1999 in Astoria with 300 members.
Its membership is currently around 1000, and it focuses on five areas: English language instruction, computer training, elderly assistance, translation services and naturalization and citizenship classes. Mrkanovic and Elezovic told ethniccommunities.org that the biggest challenge facing the group now is funding, as it would like to expand its program offerings.
“We hope to add additional sporting events to help organize the young people in our community, as well as movie nights that focus on post-conflict and development issues in Bosnia,” he told the website. Other ideas include micro-enterprise instruction and advanced English and citizenship classes, as well as branching out to non-Bosnian refugees in the area.
Aside from the Bosnian American Association, Bosnia and Bosnians are also the focus of the New York-based Academy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and America Bosnia Cultural Foundation. They are also active within Raccoon, which strives for reconcilation among all of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia.
Among Bosnian media locally is the newspaper Sabah, the web magazine Bosnjaci.net, Radio Muslimanski Glas (Radio Muslim Voice), and Radio Voice of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
One of the most prominent features of the Bosnian community is the Cevabdzinica, the traditional Bosnian restaurant featuring the sausage-like cevapci (or cevapcici). Of the many if the five boroughs are Bosna Express (Astoria), Cevabdzinica Sarajevo (Astoria) and Djerdan (Astoria, Manhattan, Brooklyn).
Another Bosnian cultural institution popular with New Yorkers is the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival, now in its third year. The next festival will be from 19 to 21 May.
(Photo: Ali Pashna Mosque from Dzemati.com, and Bosnians at the 2003 Muslim Parade in New York, from Radio Muslimanski Glas)