zlatko hasanbegovic.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Nikša MILETIĆ / mm

Antifascism is not a platitude and any downplaying of fascism and equating it with any other form of totalitarianism is absolutely unacceptable, Antifascist League representatives said on Saturday, adding that the promotion of the worst parts of Croatian history in the works and statements of new Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic was absolutely unacceptable for a minister.

"Hasanbegovic's works show a continuity in the promotion of the worst parts of history which happened in the 20th century and some recently discovered articles have stirred it up again," Civic Committee for Human Rights president Zoran Pusic told a news conference at the Croatian Journalists Association.

The reasons for the demonstrations and protests against Hasanbegovic's appointment as culture minister do not lie in photos and articles he published 20 years ago because "we all know they began before anyone knew about that," he said.

"The main problem is that Hasanbegovic gave similar statements not 20 but two years ago, that he said that until the end of the Homeland War, Croatia had never won in the 20th century, that he spoke of the SS division and its Hauptsturmfuehrer with great respect and admiration," Pusic said.

The minister speaks as a man who is consistent in his belief that Croatian history began on 30 May 1990, but he says so on his and not the behalf of many Croatian citizens, he added.

"We respect every man's right to his opinion, but we think that a man with such positions has no place in the government as a minister," Pusic said, adding that the state leadership was "trying to minimalise Hasanbegovic's unambiguous apologias of Ustashism and unambiguous animosity towards antifascism and portray it as something ephemeral."

Pusic said that Hasanbegovic's statement on Thursday, "in which he renounced his apologist views of Ustashism," was "extorted" so that he could remain in office.

A representative of the Zagreb Jewish minority, Sanja Zoricic Tabakovic, said that "any downplaying of fascism and equating it with any other form of totalitarianism elicits doubt and even fear... Fascism cannot and must not be equated with any other regime because it was a criminal organisation, a regime created on crime based on racial laws whose application wiped out nearly 50 percent of Europe's Jewish population."

"In Croatia, in four years of the Second World War, 80% of Jews were disempowered and killed, and those who survived did so thanks to their links with the antifascist movement. That's why to us antifascism isn't a platitude but a constant repetition to leave history up to historians and turn to the future," she said, adding that "fascism was the worst crime in the history of mankind."

Speaking on behalf of the Serb National Council, journalist and activist Sasa Milosevic said Hasanbegovic "carries a too heavy burden of his statement to successfully act as a Croatian government minister... This government will be better without him."

As for Hasanbegovic's announcement that he would soon visit the Jasenovac Memorial, he said the Antifascist League awaited the visit "with hope and trepidation... hope that (he) will pursue the direction announced with his apology, and trepidation as to how he will treat his two previous statements about Jasenovac, when he said that the Yugo-communist regime is celebrated there, which simply isn't true, and that state sponsorship of that ceremony should be abolished."

Jasenovac was the site of a concentration camp in the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia (1941-45).

Related stories

Latest news

Reports: 12 injured as car runs into crowd at New Orleans parade

Twelve people were injured Saturday in the US city of New Orleans when a car struck a crowd watching a parade, local media reported.

"Moonlight" big winner at independent film awards

The coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" won six prizes including best feature at the 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards Saturday, claiming the Hollywood spotlight on the eve of the Oscars.

Trump: I won't attend White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he does not plan to attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year.

US Democratic Party chooses Tom Perez to be next party chief

The US Democratic Party elected former labour secretary Tom Perez as its next party chief at a meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

73-year-old man dies after car ramming in Germany

A 73-year-old male pedestrian died from his injuries after being run over when a car rammed into people in the south-western town of Heidelberg, police said Saturday.

Syrian government vows retribution for Homs attacks that killed 42

The Syrian government vowed retribution for synchronized attacks on Saturday in Homs City that left 42 security personnel dead and reportedly involved up to six suicide bombers.

Between 250,000 and 300,000 Croatians suffer from rare diseases

Rare Disease Day, observed on February 28, was marked in Zagreb's Cvjetni Trg Square on Saturday.

German police shoot man who rammed car into pedestrians in Heidelberg

Police in Germany shot a man who rammed a car into pedestrians in the south-western town of Heidelberg on Saturday.

Egypt's al-Sissi orders cabinet to help Christians fleeing Sinai

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi ordered the government on Saturday to take all necessary measures to help Christians who escaped northern Sinai after the Islamic State militia killed at least six of them over the past month.

SDP MP calls on citizens to raise their voice against restriction of women's rights

Josko Klisovic, a Social Democrat member of the Croatian parliament, on Saturday called on all Croatians to raise their voice against a policy turnaround on women's rights after Croatia took a conservative position in a discussion on human rights in the Council of the European Union.

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's aide of 22 years

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted one of ousted president Hosny Mubarak's closest aides, ruling he was not guilty of corruption and illicit profits.

EU ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin under 24-hour police protection

EU Ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin and her family have been given 24-hour armed police protection due to threats she has been receiving lately, the Austrian paper Der Standard said on Saturday, explaining that the threats were linked to Vlahutin's monitoring of a reform of Albania's judiciary designed to curb corruption in that country.