STA, 13 May 2021 - A group of NGOs and research institutions has condemned incitement of "racist and ethnic hatred" after Jasminka Dedić, the head of the Slovenian Bosniak Cultural Association, came under attack from right-wing media for comments she made for the Sarajevo-based newspaper STAV.
In an interview that STAV run under the headline Jasminka Dedić: Bosniaks and Migrants for Slovenians, Dedić spoke about Slovenia's attitude to people of different ethnic backgrounds, saying that Prime Minister Janez Janša did not tolerate any criticism and attacks were likely to follow.
In response the weekly Demokracija and the broadcaster Nova 24 targeted Dedić, an employee at the Government Office for Development and Cohesion Policy, in an article headlined Leftist Quislingism: Employed and Paid by Slovenian Government that She is Slandering Abroad!
Some media have reported that Minister Zvonko Černač, who heads the Office for Development and Cohesion Policy, has allegedly been collecting signatures from his subordinates to sack Dedić. The STA turned for comment to the office latest week but has unable to get one yet.
Now several organisations, headed by the Chair of Social Justice and Social Inclusion at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Studies, issued a public letter to condemn what they say is "obviously an orchestrated incitement of racist and ethnic hatred" in some media and government services.
"We understand the minister's conduct as pejorative and malicious ethnic and racist labelling of Slovenian citizens who are being denied the right to express political views as representatives of minority cultural associations," reads the letter, referring to Černač.
"We condemn in the strongest terms the incitement of intolerance and a purge among public employees that is also supposed to serve as a form of disciplining other public employees and Slovenian citizens who have views different from the ruling party or minority ethnic backgrounds," reads the letter.
The signatories, which include three institutes affiliated with the Science and Research Institute of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Ljubljana Jewish Cultural Centre and several other research institutions and chairs affiliated with the universities of Ljubljana and Primorska, expect a public apology from the media outlets that slandered Dedić's good name, and an end to attacks at her workplace.
Concern was also expressed by the Bosniak Cultural Association, which pointed to untruthful claims in the Demokracija article. "We are deeply concerned because you gravely encroached on the integrity of Dr Dedić, in particular because of strong indications that due to your manipulative and untruthful accusations she will become the target of retaliatory measures from her employer."
The association says it will not let be intimidated and will report media attacks and smear campaigns to the relevant Slovenian, European and international authorities.