Read, Debate: Engage.

Radicalism without response is the luxury no one can afford anymore

December 14, 2020
topic:Political violence
tags:#radicalism, #Islamophobia
located:Croatia, France, Germany
by:Katarina Panić
If someone forcibly shaves woman's head, and it happens in France, it inevitably reminds us of the shady side of World War II liberation. The method was used as humiliating some 20,000 women who allegedly collaborated with German occupiers.

Therefore, the public was all the more shocked when a family punished 17-years-old girl in August in the eastern French city of Besançon right in this way.

"Shaved and beaten because she 'loved a Christian'. I was deeply shocked by this act of torture on this 17-year-old girl. This barbarity calls for the most severe punishment," media quoted the Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin's post on Twitter.

The family moved from Bosnia and Herzegovina to France three years ago. They are Bosniaks, Muslims. The boyfriend is Serb, Orthodox Christian. Both identities – ethnic and religion, including the Croats, Catholics as a third group, have been driving the war in Bosnia in the early nineties with 100,000 human casualties and some two million displaced persons.

The police arrested both parents as well as the uncle and aunt, who have also beaten the girl. The French social service is going to take care of the victim until she is 18. Her parents and three siblings were deported to Sarajevo /October 24/. They are banned from entering France for five years. The uncle and aunt were imprisoned in France.


However, the prosecutor qualified the crime as violence against minors, not as a hate crime, although it contains the elements of violence or hostility related to people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are, regarding people's race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin.

"The same happens in local judiciary /in Bosnia/ too. For example, young Serbs smash the windows of mosques with stones or when young Bosniaks draw Islamic symbols on churches. The prosecutors usually say it is about damaging someone else's property or, at best, endangering safety", the OSCE's rule of law officer told Fairplanet.

Suitable legal practise says that if you believe something is a hate crime, it should be recorded as such. The prosecutors, however, often avoid doing so.

"The reason is simpler than one might think. It is easier to prove the window was broken than that someone had the intention rooted in hostility or prejudice. At the end of the day, when a prosecutor's efficiency is evaluated, no one asks about what kind of cases were on the table. Only wins and losses are being counted", she added.


Danijel Majić is a Frankfurt-based journalist. One day he saw Catholic priest Vinko Puljić's post on Facebook where he appeals for financial donations to one Croatian NGO. The organisation questions facts about crimes committed at fascist-run concentration camp Jasenovac in the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi satellite state during the World War II.

"I shared that post on my social networks accounts. Then I asked the diocese of Hildesheim to take a stand on this case. To be honest, I didn't expect a great deal of reaction. Meanwhile, a journalist of web portal filed a similar inquiry. The diocese accused the priest's post, distanced itself from it and found the best solution in his return to the home diocese", Majić explained.

Puljić is originated from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he was head of the Croatian Catholic Mission in Göttingen. Now, he was ousted from Germany over the issue and is about to leave the country in January 2021.

"Maybe this time word will spread that even as a Catholic priest you can't relativise the crimes of the Ustasha /fascist movement in Croatia/ without consequences", Majić added.


He said he didn't receive as many threats this time as he used to in some other occasion; for instance when he criticised the far-right singer Marko Perković Thompson.

"This time, there were only four or five only. As usual, half of them from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, half of them from the diaspora. The most interesting one was the threat that I got from one Puljić's relative. He said he is going to visit me and he is going to bring his friends – war veterans", Majić told Fairplanet.

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network recently published an analysis on radicalisation among diaspora and on the influence of websites that promote nationalistic narratives. Experts found that expatriates living in democratic societies are responsible for committing offences in their homelands that are prohibited in the Western European countries in which they live.

"Right-wing extremism in the Croatian diaspora has never been weak. The worst thing is that some extreme attitudes in such Croatian communities have not been considered radical for a long time, because they have long since grown into the mainstream within those communities", Majić concluded.

Article written by:
Katarina Panić
Katarina Panić
Croatia France Germany
Embed from Getty Images
The public was shocked when a family punished 17-years-old girl in August in the eastern French city of Besançon by shaving her head.
Embed from Getty Images
Shaved and beaten because she 'loved a Christian'
Embed from Getty Images
The police arrested both parents as well as the uncle and aunt, who have also beaten the girl.
Call to Action
Launch an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in major political parties
Support now