December 29, 2020 – Croatian media report today about a horrific hate crime perpetrated against a gay man in Zagreb’s Maksimir Park last weekend.
Hajdi Karakaš-Jakubin reports the entire story for Jutarnji list: a 50-year-old man was taking a night walk in the Zagreb’s biggest park, Maksimir, close to his home, this Saturday evening. Two unknown assailants first asked him if he had a cigarette lighter, and when he said he didn’t, they started asking him various questions to find out what he was doing in the park. He started feeling uncomfortable, so he told them he was there to meet a friend (although he was just taking a walk in the evening!), and the assailants threw a Molotov cocktail on him and started running away. Soon his jacket caught on fire, and he was saved by brave passers-by, who ran to help him and contacted the emergency services.
He’s currently hospitalised in the Trauma Clinic in Zagreb, with second-degree burns to his body, arms, neck, and face. Zagreb police department reported that they’re determining all the relevant information about this case, but it will be very difficult to find those responsible, because they had surgical masks on, so the victim will probably not be able to identify them, even if some suspects are found.
Zagreb Pride association sent a strongly-worded letter to the Croatian media, condemning the attack. They say that they’re terrified with the crime and that it’s probably the worst anti-gay hate crime ever reported in Croatia. They demand a swift and decisive investigation into the crime, and that once the assailants are prosecuted, they are prosecuted for hate crime, and not a lesser crime. They also demand stronger protection for various minority groups (LGBTIQ community, Serbian, African, Romani minorities, as well as refugees and migrants) in the public spaces, which are often attacked by “right-wing gangs”. They’re offering their support to the victim, and are willing to provide legal and psychological help, if he wants that. They refuse the situation in which the victims of the homophobic violence get blamed for the crimes committed against them. Zagreb Pride stresses that each member of our society has the right to take a free walk in the public park for any reason whatsoever: to get some fresh air during the pandemic, to meet a friend or to set-up a date. They conclude their statement by adding that gay people are not to be blamed for anything just because they are who they are, while the right-wing gangs are to blame.