Božinović: Discrimination Unacceptable, Could be Dangerous for Society

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He was commenting on the Index news portal asking its readers before accessing its website to say if they were a human being or a member of the ruling HDZ party.

The HDZ on Tuesday strongly condemned that, saying that it would take legal action and that it expected the relevant bodies and the Croatian Journalists’ Association to react.

Božinović said the Index move was in line with a Facebook post by a bar owner in Rijeka who said that HDZ members and sympathisers were not welcome in his establishment.

“It’s not about the person, it’s about the message. He believes the national COVID response team is responsible, we are used to that. However, when you discriminate against a group based on political affiliation, that’s unacceptable. It calls for a reaction from everyone in society who influences public opinion. This should be made clear because such a trend can be dangerous for society,” Božinović told N1 television.

Asked if that was punishable, he said there were laws and institutions in Croatia which dealt with that.

When he said that “the HDZ has never discriminated against anyone,” the interviewer reminded him of his statement from last year that refugees and migrants were not the same.

“In Syria there was a war and the people coming to the border from Syria at that time could definitely be considered and were refugees from war zones. As for the others, they are economic migrants, there’s no discrimination there. In the end, there is international law and the right to international protection,” Božinović said.

According to him, everyone drawing a parallel was obfuscating the main point. “Here there was a clear message that members and sympathisers of one party are not welcome somewhere in Croatia, which absolutely deserves total condemnation.”

Božinović went on to say that local authorities were involved in the creation of COVID-19 restrictions and that they “stood behind, even demanded” the closure of bars, “yet now they are hiding behind the decisions of the national (COVID response) team and releasing a message which could be very bad for all of society.”

It’s not about an individual, but certain events have elicited reactions, he said. “HDZ members are also frustrated by everything that is going on.”

Speaking of yesterday’s crowds for vaccination against COVID, Božinović said it “passed well” and showed that more and more citizens wanted to be vaccinated.

He would not comment on out-of-turn vaccination. “There’s a Health Ministry Commission which is investigating that.”

Božinović, who heads the national COVID response team, neither denied nor confirmed allegations that AstraZeneca would deliver up to 50% less of its vaccine to the EU.

Asked if the government would contact manufacturers outside the EU, he said it already had, requesting details which he said were very important in the case of vaccines.


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