In Bosnia, one of a handful of European countries with a Muslim majority population, Smail "Smajo" Krivic keeps a once-banned tradition alive during the holy month of Ramadan.
"He's here!" children cry, crowding around the 59-year-old as he arrives in Sarajevo's old town where he is the official Ramadan gunner who fires a cannon to signal the end of the daily dawn-to-dusk fast.
"You have to move from there, I cannot do anything if you stay camped out in that spot," Smajo jovially chides the small crowd gathered on the plateau of the Ottoman fortress that overlooks the Bosnian capital.
Izet Merzic, 56, sits at a small camping table with friends, ready and waiting as Nermina Fadzan, 50, starts unpacking food and plates. On the menu tonight: the usual sweet dates to break the fast then veal with vegetables, a spicy beef stew, soup and several deserts including Bosnia's famed "tufahija", or walnut-stuffed, stewed apples.
"Here we cannot miss the moment. We will be sure we start eating at exactly the right minute," Merzic said.
As the sun sets, Smajo looks out over Sarajevo's old town and the imposing national library -- still undergoing reconstruction after it was destroyed in Bosnia's 1992-95 inter-ethnic war.
"It's a great responsibility," he told Agence France Presse. "Every year before the Ramadan I go to see a watchmaker to make sure my watch is in good order.
"To eat before the right time is a sin, but you should not be too late either. I do not want to carry a sin for the entire city on my shoulders," he said.
Even though many of the faithful can see the sun set themselves they prefer to wait for the cannon blast from the Zuta Tabija (Yellow Fortress) and the lights that come on in the town's many minarets.
In Bosnia, divided since the war into the Muslim Croat Federation and a Bosnian Serb entity, Muslims make up a narrow majority of 40 percent of the population of 3.8 million. Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs account for 31 percent while the traditionally Roman Catholic Croats represent 10 percent.
-- 'I bring joy' --
The overwhelming majority of Bosnia's Muslims are Sunnites and follow moderate form of Islam introduced by the Ottomans in the Balkans in the 15th century AD.
While Sarajevo was known for its ethnic mix before the war, inhabitants are now around 80 percent Muslim, according to estimates.
The crowd at Zuta Tabija watches attentively as Smajo adjusts the orange pipe of the cannon -- more like a rocket launcher than old-fashioned artillery, inserts the charge then attaches an electric wire. He moves several meters (yards) away and squats down, remote control in hand.
"Cover your ears," a worried mother shouts at her daughter, jumping around with excitement as the cannon blasts at precisely two minutes before 8 pm.
Suddenly, minarets light up one after another and the muezzins start chanting.
"The tradition goes back to the end of the Ottoman era in the 19th century. The Austro-Hungarian empire, which ruled Bosnia from 1878 to 1914, then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1941 allowed it, but the rulers of the communist federation of Yugoslavia (1945-91) banned it," Smajo said.
During the war when Sarajevo was under siege by Bosnian Serb troops for 44 months, "we really did not need another explosion for Ramadan," he said.
So "we started again in 1997, two years after the war," said Smajo, who has been the old town's official Ramadan gunner ever since.
"I know I bring joy to thousands of households. I could never give that up," he said, before heading home break the fast with his family.
Alen Voloder, 38, like many, savors the tradition.
"During Ramadan, everything becomes so valued, a drop of water, a coffee but also just this peace," he said. "Let's not forget that we could not do this 20 years ago."
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