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Christmas Marked in Bosnia

December 25, 1997

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ A rocket fired over a divided western town and pamphlets urging ethnic separation marred Christmas celebrations in Bosnia, but Roman Catholic clergy urged worshippers to spread a message of harmony.

Overnight, assailants in the western town of Mostar fired a rocket from the Croat-controlled western half of the city into the Muslim-ruled east, where it hit an apartment where a family was sleeping. No one was injured.

During midnight Mass, Sarajevo’s Roman Catholic cardinal offered a special prayer for people of all religious faiths who were disabled, forced into exile, or lost loved ones during the 3 1/2-year war.

``God, relieve a man from hate, because it is not normal for a man to carry hate. Then a man is not a man,″ Cardinal Vinko Puljic told hundreds of congregants. ``Raise those people from hate, let them be capable of love, let them be capable of forgiveness.″

Puljic alluded to people who plastered Sarajevo’s walls with pamphlets Wednesday night instructing the capital’s mostly Muslim residents not to ``participate with Christians in celebrating their holidays.″ The fliers carried the signature of a previously unknown group calling itself the Organization of Active Islamic Youth.

Mirsada Catic, a Muslim who attended Mass in Sarajevo with her Catholic boyfriend Zoran Jermovic, said she was unfazed by the hostile message in the fliers.

``This pamphlet is nonsense. Whoever made it obviously knows nothing about this country and this town,″ she said.

Catic, her boyfriend and many of their friends _ Bosnian Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Jews _ had attended the Mass together. They wanted to listen to Cardinal Puljic,oved in Sarajevo for his commitment to a multiethnic society.

When the Muslim holiday of Ramadan begins next week, ``I’ll be celebrating it with Mirsada’s family the same way she was celebrating Christmas with my family,″ Jermovic said.

``Isn’t it better to have two holidays and two families instead of one?″

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