By Eleanor Rose
Mladen Grujicic, the new mayor of Srebrenica, has been invited to attend the 65th National Prayer Breakfast in February, according to the municipality’s website.
The event – which actually features several meetings, lunches and dinners – is expected to be addressed by Donald Trump, as by that time he will have taken office as the next US president.
“I hope it will be an opportunity to make contacts with some important people, and I will try to do something useful for Srebrenica’s residents,” Grujicic said.
The National Prayer Breakfast is held annually at the Hilton’s International Ballroom in Washington DC on the first Thursday of February – in this case, February 2.
Hosted by members of US Congress and organised by Christian organisation the Fellowship Foundation, it has been attended by every US president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Grujicic is the first Bosnian Serb mayor of Srebrenica since the massacres of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim [Bosniak] men and boys from the town by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.
The mayoralty of Srebrenica is highly symbolic to Bosniaks, and although the town now lies in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, and is mostly inhabited by Serbs, previously the mayoral election was won by a Bosniak candidate because Bosniaks who left during the war retained voting rights in the town.
However, Grujicic emerged the victor from October 2’s local elections, unseating Bosniak mayor Camil Durakovic.
Some Bosniaks were upset, particularly as Grujicic had in the past commented that the 1995 massacres did not amount to genocide.
The prayer breakfast itself usually features two speakers – the first being the president, and the second a special guest whose identity is usually not revealed until the event itself.
Previous speakers at the event have included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, U2 singer Bono and Mother Teresa.
Members of the US Congress, cabinet and foreign embassies based in Washington are traditionally in attendance, among more than 3,000 guests.
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