Thursday, March 24, 2005

Three arrested for anti-Semitism in Serbia - Jerusalem Post

Belgrade police have arrested three men for plastering anti-Semitic posters in the Serbian capital, the authorities said Wednesday.

Interior Minister Dragan Jocic declined to identify the suspects but said they were "young people ... found in possession of copies of the posters" identical to those that appeared Tuesday at the entrance to Belgrade's Jewish cemetery and along Jewish Street in Belgrade's historic city center.

"Serbia is not an anti-Semitic place, these are extremely rare cases ... we want to know what incited the young men" to put up the messages that also blasted Serbia's liberal B92 Radio and Television station and two pro-Western human rights groups.

The posters were signed by a hitherto unknown group calling itself National Order, saying B92 was anti-Serb, had a negative influence on Serb youth and spread "Western diseases" in Serbia.

Jocic said he met with the head of Serbia's tiny Jewish community, Aca Singer, to offer assurances that police would "thoroughly investigate the incident," as promised on Tuesday by Serbia's pro-Western president, Boris Tadic, who called the messages "absolutely unacceptable."

Later Wednesday, the Jewish community released a statement expressing hope that "state bodies will find and punish perpetrators and prevent any recurrence or a lapse into physical violence."

The incident was "well organized, it was coordinated and financed from one place" the statement also said, without elaborating.

Serbia's deputy prime minister, Miroljub Labus, agreed that "what happened was not spontaneous at all," adding that "it was a deliberate, organized attempt to try discredit our country." He also didn't elaborate.

Last month, Singer said he had received anonymous hate mail telling him "Jews should leave Serbia."

Of the once-affluent, 30,000-strong Jewish community in Serbia before World War II, less than half survived the Nazi occupation. Many more later moved to Israel or to the West.

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