Center for Civil Courage: We express our deep concern for journalists and editors of the portal Index.hr and freedom of expression in Croatia

In addition to freedom of expression, Center for Civil Courage are committed to promotion of humanist and secular values, and therefore we will contact all international organizations and institutions that advocate freedom of expression and secularism to join us in condemning the move of the Croatian Journalists’ Association and provide support to journalists and editors of Index.hr.

 

Center for Civil Courage express our deep concern for journalists and editors of the portal Index.hr and for freedom of expression in Croatia. After Index.hr had published an article which dared to criticize the Catholic church and its ongoing attacks against secular society, the portal has been under constant governmental and media pressure and their journalists and editors started to recieve many threats, including threats to their lives.

Index threats death

Death threats to journalists Index after the text of Hrvoje Marjanović and reaction of Ladislav Ilčić and Saša Leković.

Their “controversial” article ridiculed the public presentation of the corpse of a saint, which was broadcasted live on the national television – HRT. The body was publicly displayed for three days in Zagreb, and tens of thousands of Catholics came to the Croatian capital, hoping that they would get a chance to see and touch the body of the dead saint. The pilgrims waited for hours, standing in long lines in order to do so. After the article was published, Ladislav Iličić, a member of the ruling coalition, made a public statement, accusing Index.hr of spreading hatred. He requested that the governing institutions punish Index.hr. The President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association Saša Leković released a public statement, pronouncing that Index’ article should not be published, because they offend the feelings of religious people and spread intolerance and hate speech.

Ladislav Ilčić, president of ultra clerical party in Croatia (HRAST) and Saša Leković, president Croatian Journalists' Association (photomontage by 45lines.com)

Ladislav Ilčić, president of ultra clerical party in Croatia (HRAST) and Saša Leković, president Croatian Journalists’ Association (photomontage by 45lines.com)

Center for Civil Courage do not think that the article posted on the Index contains hate speech. The text in no way deviates from satirical-critical standards that are practiced in the free world. This is a critical and satirical text, which may or may not appeal to some readers.

Free thought and freedom of expression have an important place in the mission of our organization. Therefore, we were quite surprised at the reaction of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) on Index’ text. Instead of support, Index hasn’t only experienced pressure, but also other journalists who would dare to speak or write openly and critically (and satirically) are invited to self-censorship. Taking into account the current communication between the President of HND and Index’ journalists, one gets the impression that the Croatian Journalists’ Association enforces blasphemy law under the table.

In addition to freedom of expression, Center for Civil Courage are committed to promotion of humanist and secular values, and therefore we will contact all international organizations and institutions that advocate freedom of expression and secularism to join us in condemning the move of the Croatian Journalists’ Association and provide support to journalists and editors of Index.hr.

Nada Peratović, president of Center for Civil Courage

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