Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ /dc

The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Monday issued a statement on its web site, asking President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to explain what exactly the HND had done to deserve to be attacked with fascist methods.

The HND's statement came after this past weekend the president of the Serb National Council (SNV), Milorad Poupovac, wrote to Grabar-Kitarovic, complaining about growing intolerance in society, and after she replied.

In his letter, Pupovac expressed concern about "a growing atmosphere of intolerance and messages of hate directed at political, ethnic and other minorities in our country", citing as an example an anonymous letter in which the HND and the SNV were attacked. In her reply, referring, among other things, to the anonymous letter, Grabar-Kitarovic said that among those targeted by messages of intolerance and hate "there are also people who with their public work have for years provoked, irritated and insulted the largest part of the Croatian public, falsely depicting or even ridiculing the Homeland War and, basically, denying the reality and the very idea of the Croatian state, thus creating an atmosphere of tension, exclusiveness and intolerance."

The HND says in its statement that it did not react publicly to the anonymous letter. However, since it was mentioned in Pupovac's letter to the President and that she, too, referred to it in her reply, the HND says in its statement that the anonymous letter describes the HND and the SNV as "haters of Croatia who abuse media freedoms and freedom of assembly to manifest their animosity towards their own country."

"In reality, the truth is that the SNV leased from the HND a room in the HND building for its Christmas reception (whose content the author of the anonymous letter did not like and which was attended by the then PM-Designate, now the Prime Minister, and the current Foreign Minister), just as dozens of various organisations, institutions or associations do on a daily basis, regardless of their political, religious or any other affiliation," says the HND.

Referring to the president's reply to Pupovac, the HND asks the president to explain what exactly the HND, which brings together close to 2,500 professional journalists, has done to deserve to "be attacked with fascist methods."

"Does the HND provoke anyone with its public work? Or irritates or insults? Falsely depicts or even ridicules the Homeland War? Denies the reality, and thus implicitly the very idea of the Croatian state, thus creating an atmosphere of tension, exclusiveness and intolerance? We ask the President to explain to us what, in her opinion, the HND and its leadership, primarily its president, have done to deserve threats that they would be expelled, murdered with a mallet or that their eyes would be gouged out?" the HND says in the letter to Grabar-Kitarovic.

The HND says that it expects the president, as well as other senior state officials, to respond to the letter the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) sent them on behalf of 600,000 reporters from all over the world as a sign of support for the HND amidst attempts to suppress freedom of expression and attacks on media independence in Croatia, and that it hopes President Grabar-Kitarovic "will publicly condemn the spreading of intolerance, threats and hate-mongering done, for example, by the notorious supporter of the Independent State of Croatia, alleged reporter Velimir Bujanec."

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