25 May 2018

How to become a right-wing Croatian in three easy steps

A Croatian artist collected signatures protesting criminal prosecution of pedophile priests during a performance in the center of Zagreb. Thinking it was for real, around sixty people signed the petition.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
How to become a right-wing Croatian in three easy steps - NewsMavens
Croatia Church, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

If it wasn't funny, the stunt would be a sad reminder about how easily people can be manipulated into taking questionable moral stances.

All you need is:

1) a couple of flags to boost the sense of national belonging; 

2) a mention of the dominant religion to foster protectiveness of its sanctity -- in this case the Catholic Church; and

3) a warning that the nation and the religion are in danger. 

And there you go -- people will literally sell their children to protect them. The same recipe is often used for warmongering and recruiting extremists.  

The stunt also shows that petitions and referendums -- direct democracy tools much-loved by populists -- can be used to progressively violate basic human rights. 

So it wouldn't be much of a surprise to me if similar petitions turn up in Zagreb, Warsaw or any other European city and collect much more than sixty signatures. 

Details from the story:

  • Croatian artist Siniša Labrović set up a table for collecting signatures during anti-abortion protests that took place in Zagreb on May 19. 
  • His "initiative" was aimed at collecting signatures for the constitutional prohibition of criminal prosecution of Catholic priests who sexually abuse and exploit children. The stall was decorated with the flags of Croatia and the Vatican with posters saying "Let's save the dignity of the Catholic Church" and "Let's prevent persecution of Catholic priests."
  • Around sixty people signed the petition during the four hour long "reality show" performance. 
  • Some of those who signed the petition were protesters participating in the anti-abortion "Walk for Life" protests, including parents with children. There were also citizens who refused to participate. According to Labrović, very few people figured out it was a stunt. 
  • Labrović is well known among Croatians for his provocative art performances.
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