Porfirije Perić .jpg
Photograph: Hina/ Dario GRZELJ/ dag

The head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Croatia and Slovenia, Metropolitan Porfirije Peric, has condemned and described as an attack on the Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Croatia accusations that followed the broadcasting of footage showing him singing a song glorifying World War II Chetnik commander Momcilo Djujic, and he has noted that tendentious interpretations of the footage do not reflect his views and values.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Serb Orthodox dignitary says that tendentious interpretations of the footage, made several years ago during his visit to Chicago, do not reflect his views and the values he advocates, which, he says, is clear to everyone who follows his work.

He describes media reports on the footage as an unprecedented attack on the Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Croatia, expressing regret to all who have felt affected by it. Porfirije claims that in the case in question, during his visit to Chicago, he was not in a position to control all the circumstances.

The said footage was just the trigger and not the motive for, or the cause of the brutal, unprecedented attacks against and calls for lynching the Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Croatia, says the religious dignitary.

He notes that the attacks did not surprise him because in his first public address upon taking up office in Zagreb, he had said that "there are, on both sides, such people that will throw stones at those who build bridges between people and between nations."

He stresses that he will not be discouraged by protagonists of hate and intolerance and that he is bound by the determination of many individuals and associations to publicly and privately express solidarity with, encourage and support the Serb Orthodox Church, Serb Orthodox believers and him.

They give me optimism to continue, with even more strength, to build bridges of peace, cooperation, mutual respect and love between the Croat and Serb peoples, as well as between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, said Porfirije Peric.

In the statement he also expresses confidence that those who have sent him messages of encouragement represent the Croatian majority, who follow Christ's teachings and ethic, and expresses his deepest gratitude to them.

The Croatian media have in the recent days broadcast footage of the Serb Orthodox dignitary singing a song glorifying WWII Chetnik commander Momcilo Djujic in the company of several Serb Orthodox dignitaries.

Reporter Marko Juric, who hosts a programme on Zagreb's Z1 TV channel, was reported for hate speech last week and Z1's broadcasting licence was revoked for three days after Juric, ending his programme "Markov trg", warned residents of Zagreb, notably mothers with children, to watch out when passing by the Serb Orthodox Church in Cvjetni Trg square because "there is a danger that a Chetnik vicar might run out of the church and commit a bloodbath in their usual manner."

Prior to Juric's closing remark, the controversial footage was shown in the programme.

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.