Why this story matters:
On April 6, the day of liberation of Sarajevo in WWII and the city’s official holiday, Sarajevo’s Mayor Abdulah Skaka managed to utter the phrase “victory over antifascism” in two speeches given on the same day.
Now it looks like he was “patient zero” of a condition that continues to spread.
On May 9, Victory Day, Fadil Novalić, Prime Minister of The Federation of BiH, spoke at the recently renovated Partizan Cemetary in Mostar. His obvious struggle to find the right words for the occasion resulted in a particularly mind boggling statement:
We’re here at the Partizan cemetary and let’s be reminded that the word “Partizan” comes from the word “Partizans” and we need to make it clear to ourselves that partizans aren’t just regular people. Because, well, they were on that path, the path of the fight against antifascism, which Europe has chosen as its official direction.
Finally, a few days ago, while speaking at Kozara -- the sight of a historic WWII battle -- Petar Đokić, a minister in the Republika Srpska government, honored “all those who fought against antifascism”. Skaka and Novalić come from SDA (the biggest Bosniak party), while Đokić is a member of the Socialist party of Republika Srpska (a Serb party that is socialist in name only).
With politics deeply rooted in ethnic nationalism, “fighting against antifascism” is a fairly accurate description of where most major BiH parties stand today -- but you wouldn’t expect them to actually admit it in public. These unconscious mistakes are therefore less of a “funny faux pas”, and more a reflection of the current political paradigm and its ambivalence and hypocricy towards the country’s antifascist heritage.
How we defeated antifascism
- "Seventy two years ago, antifascism was defeated with joined forces, as you said in your opening statement, antifascism was defeated and Sarajevo was freed from fascists. (...) Five hundred and fifty five years after the first mention of Sarajevo, when Isa-beg Isaković started creating a new urban formation and 72 years after the victory over antifascism." (Abdulah Skaka, April 6, 2018)
- "That’s why we who are genuine supporters of antifascism, and there are a lot of us in this country, have an obligation to visit such places and honor all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom, all those who fought against antifascism." (Petar Đokić, July 3, 2018.)