August 24, 2008 / 1:03 PM / 12 years ago

Serbs unveil statue to Bob Marley

Fireworks explode in the sky above a statue of late Jamaican reggae music legend Bob Marley during the opening ceremony of a rock festival in the Serbian village of Banatski Sokolac, some 90 km (56 miles) north of Belgrade, August 24, 2008. REUTERS/Nebojsa Markovic

BANATSKI SOKOLAC, Serbia (Reuters) - A Serbian village unveiled what it said was Europe’s first statue to the late Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley on Saturday, to promote tolerance in a region still recovering from war.

Two Balkan musicians, one from Croatia and one from Serbia, unveiled the monument in the village of Banatski Sokolac at midnight during a gathering of rock bands from the Balkans.

“Bob Marley promoted peace and tolerance in his music,” said Mirko Miljus, an organiser.

The event continued a trend of raising monuments to popular Western icons instead of local historical figures. Bosnians have erected a monument to Bruce Lee in the town of Mostar and Serbs have put up a statue to Rocky Balboa in northern Serbia.

Following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and the bloodshed of the 1990s, people can rarely agree on their role models and prefer figures not linked to the region.

Reporting by Fedja Grulovic; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Giles Elgood

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