Bosnian Serbs celebrated the man who set the chain of events in motion for Europe’s Great War with two fatal shots from a pistol by erecting a statue in his honor Friday -- a demonstration that one man’s terrorist is another man’s liberator.
This weekend marks the centennial of the spark to World War I, Bosnian Serb radical Gavrilo Princip's assassination of Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife. By Aug. 4, 1914, all the great powers of Europe were at war.
While the Muslim majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital of Sarajevo view the 19-year-old student as a terrorist, “he was a hero seeking to 'liberate' Slavs from the Austro-Hungarian occupier,” according to IBN.
Princip claimed to represent those who were being oppressed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time, and many Serbs continue to lionize the assassin. Though the killing led to a massive, bloody war and a century of instability in the region, organizers for this weekend's events argue that it also made way for peace.
"For the past 100 years, the information that the world has received from here was about war and atrocities. Now we're sending a different message of peace, love and understanding,” the mayor of Sarajevo, Ivo Komsic, told the Guardian.
The assassination "began the liberation from serfdom and slavery," filmmaker and event organizer Emir Kusturica said. As well as unveiling the statue, the centennial celebration will feature an outdoor musical called "A Century of Peace after the Century of Wars" that will feature nearly 300 European performers.