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  • 16

    Muslim Gunman's Family Leaves
    Immigration; Posted on: 2008-03-05 17:57:21 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Family of Trolley Square gunman goes back to Bosnia

    By Rebecca Walsh
    Tribune Columnist

    Suljo and Sabira Talovic tried to forget the savagery of ethnic civil war in the former Yugoslavia. They worked two and three back-breaking jobs to provide for their alienated teenage son and three little girls. They bought a house.

    Then, just as the mundanity of the middle class was within their grasp, it slipped away in one brutal night at Trolley Square, when their son methodically gunned down five Valentine's Day shoppers before being shot by police.

    Now a year later, the Talovic family has packed up and moved back to Bosnia.

    Since the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, about 1 million Bosnian refugees have returned home. But Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country still intractably carved up by ethnic divisions. Serbs and Muslims alike have claimed others' homes in newly segregated towns. Infant and child mortality rates are double those in the United States, according to the World Bank. The average Bosnian made about $800 in December.

    The Talovics' hometown was overrun by Serb paramilitary soldiers in 1993. Suljo fled with the village men into the mountains; Sabira and 4-year-old Sulejman evacuated to Srebrenica and then Tuzla. Their home was destroyed in the war. When the Talovics buried their son last year, just eight of the original 60 families were living in Talovici in the new Republika Srpska.

    But still, that's better than here. Better than empathy and condolences from well-meaning Utahns. Better than constant reminders of helpless failure as a parent. Better than feeling like "community pariahs," as Suljo's boss put it in a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed last March.

    When a Tribune reporter attempted to interview Sabira Talovic and Suljo's sister for coverage of the Trolley Square one-year anniversary, the women became irate and refused to talk.

    Rather than stay in Salt Lake City - where their daughters have spent most of their lives, where counseling for traumatized families is commonplace, where menial labor pays better than some professional jobs in Bosnia, where a quiet Muslim family would not have to worry about its neighbors - the Talovics have gone back to their bullet-pocked homeland. Memories of war's indiscriminate violence are less painful than memories of a uniquely American moment of carnage: the shopping mall massacre.

    News Source: sltrib.com

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