Numerous residents of Zagreb gathered in the city's Zrinjevac park on Friday evening to express support for satire and politically incorrect humor and opposition to attacks on the freedom of expression and stigmatisation of satire, which, the event's organisers said, had culminated in a recent decision by Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) to no longer air the satirical show "Montirani proces" (Show Trial).
The rally was organised by civil society organisations making up Platform 112, the Domino association, the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) and Croatian comedians.
Borna Sor of News Bar, which authors "Montirani proces", told Hina that they had gathered to "joke" about "a situation having happened in Croatia where people object to humour, the kind of humour they disagree with."
He described as unprofessional the public broadcaster's decision to no longer air "Montirani proces", stressing that no meeting had been held with the HRT's management on the reasons for their decision.
"We were banned because we do not spread their propaganda," he said.
HND president Sasa Lekovic said that the rally, entitled "For satire, ready", was organised to express support for freedom of expression, satire, democracy and human rights.
Lekovic and GONG NGO director Jelena Berkovic said that the HRT's decision to no longer air "Montirani proces" was not the only reason for the rally.
"The HND had warned previously that freedom of expression was being restricted, that there would be attacks on the media that refuse to be disciplined, and one of such attacks is the ban on 'Montirani proces', for which there is no real reason," said Lekovic.
Lekovic said that civil society was deeply concerned about "the direction the government is leading the country in".
He also recalled the government's negative assessment of a report on the performance of the Electronic Media Council and its proposal to relieve its chair (who recently resigned) and the curtailment of funds for non-profit media.
"Without quality public media and journalism, there can be no democracy in Croatia," Lekovic said, adding that he believed the public would not tolerate "the attack that has been launched on the media."
Several thousand citizens, including cultural workers and politicians, attended the rally which also included an entertainment programme.