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AP PHOTOS: Muslim miners in Bosnia break fast underground

Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Inside mine shafts, one can't s...
Bosnian coal miners approach the mine entrance in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, dri...
Bosnian coal miners wait outside their mine before their shift in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain ...
A Bosnian coal miner changes into his work outfit at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...
Bosnian coal miners hold a briefing before their shift start at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Arriving for their shift and assem...
Bosnian coal miners wait for an elevator to take them underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Bosnia's coal mines, includin...
Bosnian coal miners hold bags of food as they stand in an elevator taking them underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Duri...
Bosnian coal miners walk in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...
A Bosnian coal miner checks equipment in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslim...
Bosnian coal miners work in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Arriving for their shift and assembling for a...
Bosnian coal miners work in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Arriving for their shift and assembling for a...
Bosnian coal miners break fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Inside mine shafts, one can't see sunset, but...
A Bosnian coal miner breaks fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Inside mine shafts, one can't see sunset, b...
Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. After a quick meal, one of the ...
Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. After a quick meal, one of the ...
Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. After a quick meal, one of the ...
Bosnian coal miners work in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...
Bosnian coal miners restart their shift after in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observan...
Bosnian coal miners walk in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...

Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Inside mine shafts, one can't s...

Bosnian coal miners approach the mine entrance in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, dri...

Bosnian coal miners wait outside their mine before their shift in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain ...

A Bosnian coal miner changes into his work outfit at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...

Bosnian coal miners hold a briefing before their shift start at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Arriving for their shift and assem...

Bosnian coal miners wait for an elevator to take them underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Bosnia's coal mines, includin...

Bosnian coal miners hold bags of food as they stand in an elevator taking them underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Duri...

Bosnian coal miners walk in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...

A Bosnian coal miner checks equipment in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslim...

Bosnian coal miners work in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Arriving for their shift and assembling for a...

Bosnian coal miners work in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Arriving for their shift and assembling for a...

Bosnian coal miners break fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Inside mine shafts, one can't see sunset, but...

A Bosnian coal miner breaks fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Inside mine shafts, one can't see sunset, b...

Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. After a quick meal, one of the ...

Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. After a quick meal, one of the ...

Bosnian coal miners pray after breaking fast in the underground at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. After a quick meal, one of the ...

Bosnian coal miners work in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...

Bosnian coal miners restart their shift after in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observan...

Bosnian coal miners walk in an underground tunnel at a mine in Zenica, Bosnia, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain fro...

ZENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Groups of men are preparing for long hours of hard labor deep underground in a trouble-plagued coal mine in Bosnia’s central city of Zenica.

During Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, observant Muslims among them are easy to spot. Arriving for their shift and assembling for a roll call before riding an elevator into the mine tunnels, they carry with them transparent plastic bags containing simple meals brought from home with which they will break their daily fast 500 meters (1,640 feet) below the surface.

During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn until sunset and Zenica coal miners are no exception. For the entire duration of the Muslim holy month, they go about their normal work routine, insisting they feel no exceptional hunger, thirst or exhaustion.

"For someone who does not want to observe the fast, it is always easy to find an excuse. We work hard, it is hot here, but we want to observe the fast and Allah gives us strength to endure,” said Salih Doglod, a miner.

Inside mine shafts, one can't see sunset, but miners consult their watches and smartphones for the right time to sit down, unwrap their food and break their daily fast together.

After a quick meal, one of the miners issues a call to prayer and the men break into groups of two or three before returning to their difficult and dangerous job.

Bosnia’s coal mines, including the one in Zenica, have been badly maintained, and have seen almost no investment and modernization as the region was engulfed in an ethnic conflict in the 1990s.

In 2014, Fuad Hadzic survived a deadly collapse in the Zenica mine and insists it had only strengthened his faith. At the time, several mine tunnels collapsed leaving him and 33 other miners, including five killed by the rubble, trapped underground for hours.

“May it never repeat or happen to anyone else, but the people of faith among us trusted that God would save us, and we were saved by God,” Hadzic said.

“We were saying all the prayers we knew out loud and telling one another to just keep praying because we knew only God can save us,” he recalled.

Hadzic insists that God protected him in the most dangerous hours of his life and has always been giving him strength to observe his religion.

“I am working in this same mine for 30 years and with God’s help I always fast during Ramadan. I do not find it difficult at all,” he said.


Updated : 2021-05-11 19:57 GMT+08:00