The constitution of the SDA created the formal prerequisites for joining the race to win power. Branches sprang up all over the place. Particularly memorable was a rally in Banja Luka attended by about 20,000 people, at which a speech by Academician Prof. Dr. Muhamed Filipović, a native of that part of the world, was especially well received.
Izetbegović’s visit to the US was memorable for his meeting with Nijaz Batlak, nicknamed Daidža, who introduced himself as “a Croat of the Islamic faith.” He asked Alija if the Bosniacs were making preparations for war, and chillingly foretold the slaughter of Bosniacs in the Drina valley. Daidža was later to play a controversial part in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The SDA’s largest election rallies were in Foča, Novi Pazar and Velika Kladuša, with Foča the most emotional and Velika Kladuša the most impressive. There, on 15 September 1990, about 200,000 people came to hear Izetbegović give a speech in which he was quite explicit: “Bosnia and Herzegovina as a civil republic is what the Muslim people want: not Islamic, not socialist, but civil.” Vigorous demands for independence were already being made in Slovenia and Croatia, prompting the leader of the SDA to emphasize that the Bosniacs would not agree to remain part of “Greater Serbia.” He was quite direct: “If necessary, the Muslims will take up arms to defend Bosnia.” The speech he made at this rally will be remembered as the first time Izetbegović spoke of arms as a possible alternative. Perhaps even he himself did not believe that the armed conflict he spoke of was soon to become a reality.
Three days after the Kladuša rally, Zulfikarpašić and Filipović tried to overthrow the SDA leadership. They were unhappy with the iconography of the rallies, and believed that the party was moving towards religious radicalism. Izetbegović emerged as victor, his position as leader consolidated, leaving his two opponents to form their own party, the Muslim Bosniac Organization (MBO). Meanwhile, the leader of the SDA was getting to know, one by one, the main political actors in the Yugoslav crisis. When he arrived in Zagreb, Stipe Mesić, whom he also met at that time, invited him to a meeting with Tuđman. Unlike Tuđman, whom he did not take to, Izetbegović liked Mesić, and despite all the turbulent events that followed, their sincere friendship lasted until Izetbegović’s death. At their very first meeting, to Izetbegović’s horror, Tuđman showed a complete lack of tact when he said, “Mr. Izetbegović, don’t create a Muslim party, that’s quite the wrong thing, because the Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina are one people. The Muslims and the Croats both feel that way.” He resorted to what were ostensibly historical arguments in support of this claim. After Izetbegović had heard him out with no great enthusiasm, Tuđman predicted electoral defeat for the SDA: “The HDZ will get seventy percent of the vote, because it will get all the Croat and the Muslim votes,” he claimed.
Izetbegović responded by saying that he respected his interlocutor’s knowledge of history, but that he himself was somewhat better acquainted with the Bosnia of today, and that the HDZ would get exactly 17 percent of the vote, corresponding to the number of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This was exactly what happened at the 1990 November elections: the HDZ gained the 17 percent of the vote represented by the Croats. But Izetbegović returned from Zagreb with a bitter taste in his mouth. It was the start of the unconcealed antipathy between the two men.
The permanent museum exhibition is located in the towers Kapi-kula Ploča and Širokac. In the Ploča tower, the life of Alija Izetbegović as statesman and politician is displayed on chronologically arranged exhibition boards, accompanied by text and photographs. In the Širokac tower, the exhibition is dedicated to Izetbegović's role as the Supreme Commander in the defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Serbian agression.
Established in the recent times, the Museum „Alija Izetbegović“ offers modern answers to questions from the past, but also sets the foundation for the future. Through its objective scientific approach, it encourages young people, intellectuals and researchers to approach modern history with expertise and knowledge.
The Museum educational programs are designed for elementary and secondary school students. They include professional tours of the permanent museum exhibition, interactive school workshops, pedagogical and educational publications, lectures, special programmes observing important historical dates, etc.