Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Serbian authorities deplore anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-B92 posters

In downtown Belgrade, posters appeared this morning calling for a boycott of Radio Television B92 and anti-Semitic graffiti was written in front of the Jewish cemetery and several non-government organization headquarters. The posters show the B92 logo inside the Star of David with the message below: "Boycott because of anti-Serbian influence, dangerous influence on the Serbian youth, support for the independence of Kosovo, support for the spread of drug use, homosexuality and other Western sicknesses and support for the multiracial new world order." The message "Serbia to Serbs" also appears on the poster, which is signed by the National Formation.

Last night, graffiti was also drawn on the buildings housing the Helsinki Human Rights Council in Serbia and the Humanitarian Rights Fund. The Helsinki Council helped a petition-signing event in Republic Square the night before entitled "Stop the Silent Conspiracy", a campaign against rising anti-Semitic sentiments in Serbia, which was organized by eight non-government organizations.

A message appeared on the organization's headquarters last night, saying "Sonja Biserko [who is chairing the organization] - a Jewish pawn - an obedient servant of the World Jewish Movement".

Serbian President Boris Tadic has condemned the propaganda posters and anti-Semitic graffiti and asked for an immediate investigation into who is behind both. This type of labelling and indirect calls for a lynch represent a part of our political folklore believed to have disappeared from the public arena, Tadic said. Stating that everyone had the right to state an argumentative criticism of all public voices, Tadic said that, however, calls for violence and the spread of ethnic intolerance is absolutely unacceptable.

The Serbia-Montenegro Ministry of Foreign Affairs demands that the Serbian government "urgently find and punish the organizers and perpetrators of these acts of vandalism." The G17 Plus party condemns any form of pressure being put on the media. "Free media is a necessary condition for healthy democracy. Serbia is on the road to the European Union and such occurrences cannot be tolerated," the party states. "We must show that we are an open European society that is ready to unite with others to make a difference, we cannot allow threats, violence and extremism to dominate our public living."

The Serbian Renewal Movement has stated that the posters are a part of an anti-Hague lobby that encourages a lack of freedom of the press, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

The Power of Serbia Movement and its leader Bogoljub Karic have said that they support a democratic and European Serbia, free, professional and responsible journalism, and condemn all pressure put on the media which endangers its freedom.

The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia [NUNS] demands that the government identify who is behind this propaganda aimed at B92, which promotes racial, religious and gender discrimination. "NUNS, as an organization, respects differences in convictions and choice, but condemns such labelling and calls for violence, and believes that these posters are a sign of the times that we believed were behind us. Those attacking the media, especially those that became a symbol of free and independent journalism in the past decade, cannot be allowed to get by without public condemnation and reactions from the authorities, and a punishment of this type of criminal activity," said a statement by the association.

Source: Radio B92 text web site, Belgrade, in English 1722 gmt 22 Mar 05

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