Thursday, February 22, 2018
St. Louis Bosnians

State by State: Bosnian Community in St. Louis

State by State is a book published in 2009, and written by 50 different authors about 50 different US states. Missouri is covered by Jacki Lyden and it largely revolves around St. Louis and its Bosnian community through writers conversation with the publisher of Sabah, Sukrija Dzidzovic. You can read excerpt from the book bellow.

Refugees of religious and ethnic persecution have helped make St. Louis grow again, just as they did in the nineteenth century. Meet the Bosnian refugees, the biggest wave of immigrants to the city since the Italians in the early part of the twentieth century. St. Louis is now home to approximately fifty thousand Bosnians – the biggest Bosnian population outside Bosnia itself. Most of them arrived between 1997 and 2003 – the period of the official U.S. Bosnian resettlement program. That was part of an era when the State Department was aggressive about relocating war refugees, unlike today when they are mired in red tape and sandbagged by the Department of Homeland Security. Bosnian Muslims, who had been uprooted by ethnic cleansing in the Balkan war, filed affidavits to sponsor friends and relatives. Through enterprise and pluck, they made the city their own. St. Louis is their unofficial capital, and their unofficial spokesman is named Sukrija “Suki” Dzidzovic. He is the St. Louis pioneer of today, a link to the era of resourcefulness and possibility. It’s a pity he did not arrive by raft, like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. But like Samuel Clemens, that son of the Mississippi, Suki is a newspaperman.

I went back to St. Louis last fall to meet him. When he picked me up at the St. Louis airport, I tried to open with a few pleasantries about my early trips to St. Louis and what a sad place it was back then. He cut me off.

“My life is not so simple as yours,” he said, before I’d even uncapped a pen and pulled out a notebook. We were in his SUV, which doubles as a communication center: the Dell laptop with Internet card that lets him follow news articles from Bosnia on the go. He and his wife Mirsada can edit their newspaper while driving, and they do.

Suki as everyone calls him, is a former captain in the Yugoslav Peoples Army under Tito. He was born in 1957 in a village on the Adriatic coast, and he grew up in Sarajevo. It was never easy for Muslims to rise as officers in Tito’s army, or gain entry into the military school, which honed him. He is a lean and handsome man, graying and finely featured with a barely contained energy, and it is easy to imagine him in command. In fact, it is hard to imagine him not in command.

Suki is the founder and publisher of Sabah, the only Bosnian newspaper printed outside of Bosnia in the world. Or so Suki claims. He speaks with the confidence of Dale Carnegie, Charles Atlas, and Donald Trump. By all accounts his newspaper is the voice of the 300,000- strong Bosnian diaspora in America.

“Sabah” means dawn, and for Suki, life has downed again. He came to St. Louis in 2005, following other Bosnians. Missouri is his own private Manifest Destiny, and he intends to conquer it.

“My life has three distinct parts,” he said, veering out onto I-70. I searched for the seatbelt as he careened from lane to lane, smoking and taking phone calls and swearing at the GPS lady. “…


About The Author


The St. Louis Bosnian is an online database of Bosnian community in St. Louis. The purpose is to document and preserve existence of the Bosnian immigrant community in metropolitan St. Louis area. Through published books, articles, interviews, researches, videos, photos as well as speaker series, seminars, workshops and educational classes. We hope to leave the legacy of our community to the future generations.

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