Bosnians Building Monument to Bruce Lee

In Bosnia, where one man's hero is often another man's villain, some citizens have decided to honor a man that Serbs, Croats and Muslims can all look up to -- kung fu great Bruce Lee (search).

Lee is best remembered for taking on dozens of bad guys in a series of kung fu films, including 1973's "Enter the Dragon." (search)

But the statue of the Chinese action hero in the ethnically divided city of Mostar is intended to remind people of Lee's lesser known values -- "loyalty, friendship, skill and justice," said Veselin Gatalo, a writer who helped come up with the idea.

"Lee is a true international hero and is a hero to all ethnicities in Bosnia and that's why we picked him," Gatalo said.

Gatalo and a friend, Nino Raspudic, grew up on Bruce Lee movies. They persuaded Boris Jovanovic, a sculptor from Mostar, to create the statue of Lee "as if he was alive and kicking."

They hope to install the statue by November. The site is symbolic -- the Spanish Square, in the center of the city, some 45 miles south of the capital Sarajevo.

Mostar was both physically and psychologically scarred in Bosnia's 1992-95 war, which killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Croats and Muslims and left the country divided into a Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation.

Even now, Roman Catholic Croats and Muslims still live apart, sending their children to different schools, watching their own TV stations and cheering for rival soccer teams.

Gatalo, an ethnic Croat, hopes the statue will help erase the city's tarnished image as a place of bitter ethnic rivalries.

"We want that people, when you say Mostar, to respond, `That's the city that has a monument to Bruce Lee,"' he said.