How Muslim Bosnian refugees transformed St. Louis

“AMERICA has always been conflicted about immigration,” says Anna Crosslin, head of the International Institute of St Louis, which sponsors refugees and helps them after they arrive. In the 1840s brawls erupted in St Louis when Germans took against the Irish newcomers. The same happened when the first Italians came to a town then considered the gateway to the West. In the late 20th century the influx of Hispanic and Asian immigrants created a familiar tension.

It was no different when thousands of Bosnian refugees fleeing civil war in the former Yugoslavia were settled in St Louis in the 1990s. The city and its previous waves of immigrants were fearful and even resentful of the newcomers, who were almost all Muslims. When some built smokehouses in their backyards and spit-roasted a whole lamb, the International Institute received phone calls from locals telling them that the Bosnians were barbecuing the local dogs. 


Continue reading article here