The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Friday strongly condemned an attack on journalist and writer Ante Tomic, describing the incident as a result of growing hate speech in public.
The HND welcomed the speedy reaction of the police and the arrest of two assailants, but noted that the attack on Tomic, who had already been assaulted in the past, was a result of a generally unsatisfactory situation in Croatian society, strongly infected with intolerance and hate speech in public.
Tomic was attacked after a literary event in the coastal city of Split on Thursday night. He and his friend were approached by two young men, one of whom tried to hit Tomic on the head. Tomic managed to duck and the attacker hit his friend instead, who had to be hospitalised.
HND president Sasa Lekovic said an attack on a reporter was considered as an attack on an entire society in democratic countries, noting that according to eye-witnesses, the attackers were young people, which, he said, was cause for even more concern.
The HND said that such attacks were prompted by the abuse of the public media and the political arena for hate speech against those who think differently, noting that politicians in the highest positions in the country were not immune to such behaviour either.
It called on leading politicians, both those in power and in the Opposition, to condemn the attack on Tomic as well as all other similar attacks.
"We expect everyone to start behaving in such a way and making such statements that will discourage citizens, primarily young people, from violent behaviour. We expect them to start doing so right now because if hate speech and intolerance continue to be downplayed, tomorrow may be too late," the HND said.
Tomic was previously attacked in February 2014 in Split, when an unidentified man splashed him with a bucket of excrement. The police are still looking for the perpetrator.