State Department: Croatia Faced with Rise in Religious Intolerance

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, June 25, 2019 – The U.S. State Department says in its annual report on religious freedoms worldwide that an increase in religious intolerance, particularly online was perceived in Croatia in 2018.

“The Council of Europe and the national ombudsperson reported an increase in religious intolerance, particularly online,” reads the report’s section on Croatia.

“In May, the Council of Europe released a report saying religious intolerance, including pro-Ustasha graffiti and online speech, were on the rise in the country.

“Minority religious communities reported occasional instances of verbal harassment and physical assault, including of religious workers.

“The ombudsperson’s report said comments on various online portals accused Jews of undermining democracy, freedom, and financial institutions,” reads the report.

The paper also notes that Croatia’s Constitution provides for freedom of religious thought and expression and prohibits incitement of religious hatred. All religious communities have the same religious protections under the law, and are free to worship, proselytize, own property, and import religious literature.”

The U.S. government estimates the country’s total population to be 4.3 million (July 2018 estimate). According to the 2011 census, 86.3 percent of the population is Catholic, 4.4 percent Serbian Orthodox, and 1.5 percent Muslim. Nearly 4 percent self-identify as nonreligious or atheist. Other religious groups include Jews, Protestants, and other Christians. According to the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia, there are between 2,000 and 2,500 Jews.

There are 54 registered religious communities. Besides the Catholic Church, 19 religious communities have agreements with the state.

“Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations reported instances of border police subjecting migrants to treatment inconsistent with their religious beliefs. The government denied these reports.”

Atheist and Jewish organizations complained that non-Catholic children were discriminated against in public schools.

On the other hand, leaders of the Islamic community reported overall good relations with the government.

“Following an April meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Metropolitan Porfirije Perić, leader of the SOC (Serb Orthodox Church), publicly stated he was satisfied with the legal status of the Church.

“According to the Office of the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities, the government budgeted 288.2 million kuna (45.67 million dollars) during the year for the Catholic Church for salaries, pensions, and other purposes, compared with 299.5 million kuna (47.46 million dollars) in 2017.

“The government offered funding to other religious communities that had concluded agreements with the state, a portion of which was based on their size, in addition to funds provided to support religious education in public schools, as well as the operation of private religious schools. The government provided 21.4 million kuna (3.39 million dollars) to these groups,” reads the report.

The State Department released its annual report on religious freedoms across the world last week.

This annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom – the International Religious Freedom Report – describes the status of religious freedom in every country.

The paper covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world. The U.S. Department of State submits the reports in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

U.S. embassies prepare the initial drafts of country chapters based on information from government officials, religious groups, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, media, and others.

More news about religion in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.


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