Culture Ministry’s reaction to the attack of writer Ante Tomić continues to stir controversy.
On Sunday, Kulturnjaci 2016 sent a request to Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković to immediately dismiss Minister of Culture Zlatko Hasanbegović because of “the shameful statement” which the Ministry of Culture published to comment on the recent attack by two men on writer and journalist Ante Tomić, reports Večernji List on April 4, 2016.
“The statement from the Ministry of Culture regarding the physical attack on journalist and writer Ante Tomić and his friend represents an open and public call for street lynching of opponents and critics of the current government, an open attack on freedom of speech, spoken or written, and a direct and unambiguous assault on basic democratic values guaranteed by the Constitution”, said the initiative which had already sought Hasanbegović’s dismissal, garnering through a petition more than 4,500 signatures of support for such a request.
The initiative specifically refers to the fact that the statement by the Ministry, in addition to condemning physical violence and attacks on every citizen, states that “this case reminds us about the importance of responsibility for words spoken and/or written in public”. They claim that the latest statement represents the culmination of the Minister’s previous statements and actions “aimed at restricting democratic rights and freedoms, which means that the Ministry of Culture is undermining the constitutional order of Croatia”.
“Today it is Ante Tomić, but after such a shameful statement – tomorrow it might be you. You will comment on a price increase of supplementary health insurance and someone will attack you for it, verbally and physically. Because, when you give a right for violent action to the street, all citizens are possible targets. This is the beginning of fascization of society”, says the initiative.
The dismissal of Hasanbegović is seen as “the only way for Orešković to perform his primary task as the Prime Minister – to protect the constitutional order, security and democratic freedoms for all citizens of the Republic of Croatia”.
Ante Tomić himself also reacted to the Ministry’s statement, saying for N1 television that the statement completely fulfilled his expectations. “I would be disappointed if Zlatko Hasanbegović reacted like a normal human being”, said Tomić.
Later, the Minister reacted to Tomić’s statement saying that it was similar to his previous personal insults which he directed at Hasanbegović in one of his articles. The Culture Minister repeated that he condemned all violence, “anytime, anywhere and directed against anyone”, including any form of verbal violence, hate speech and personal insults.
Two young men attacked Tomić on Thursday evening in Split, when they took his hat and hit his friend in the head. Police on Friday reported that the first man was arrested immediately after the incident, while the other managed to escape, but was found later and brought to a police station.