STA, 3 August 2021 - A tweet in which the editor-in-chief of the recently established National Press Agency (NTA) labels Adolf Hilter a hero has raised dust in the Slovenian public and drew condemnation from part of politics, with opposition parties demanding a response from the government and relevant authorities.
Urban Purgar, the NTA editor-in-chief and president of the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values, which operates the media outlet, tweeted on Sunday that "Hitler is #hero" to spark strong reactions and condemnations.
As the tweet has also raised the question of whether such a post is a criminal act, lawyer and criminal law teacher at the European Faculty of Law Blaž Kovačič Mlinar has told the N1 news portal that such statements cannot be labelled a criminal act in Slovenia.
Glorification of totalitarian regimes is not a criminal act in Slovenia, he said, adding that Purgar's tweet did not contain enough elements to qualify as hate speech.
Former Justice Minister Aleš Zalar meanwhile said on Twitter that glorifying Hitler, a symbol of Nazism, was a criminal act. "It is on the state prosecution to make a move. The reaction of the state's repressive apparatus must be immediate and strict."
Several political parties have said that such posts are unacceptable, with the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) demanding that the government and relevant authorities launch appropriate proceedings against Purgar ex officio.
"In democratic Slovenia, such posts and spreading of intolerance are absolutely unacceptable. We expect from all government parties to clearly condemn such glorification of Hitler and, above all, to take measures," the party added.
Purgar's post has been also condemned by Matej Tonin, the head of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi).
"European nations suffered in the past century due to three totalitarian regimes. Glorifying leaders who are responsible for the death of millions of people is reprehensible and has no place in modern society," he said.
Opposition Social Democrats (SD) deputy Marko Koprivc addressed an initiative to the government regarding the "provocations related to the glorification of neo-Nazi ideologies in Slovenian society".
He has proposed that the government and the Ministry of Culture strip the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values of the status of a non-governmental organisation of public interest in the field of culture.
Koprivc also called on relevant authorities to initiate proceedings against the association and its president due to glorification of neo-Nazi ideologies and incitement of intolerance and hatred in the Slovenian society.
The government and the Culture Ministry should also publicly distance themselves from the ideas promoted by the so-called Yellow Jackets and "similar associations and groups" and make sure that such messages no longer enjoy their support.
The opposition Left thinks that this is a direct consequence of the "spreading of divisions and hatred" by the ruling Democrats (SDS), whose rhetoric "gives wings to such ideas."
The party added that numerous visible representatives of the SDS "flirt with neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist organisations, including the prime minister", which is why glorification of Hitler is not surprising.
"Being appalled and moralising is not enough. It is a criminal act that must be immediately penalised, and the status of the association and its financing abolished," the Left said.
The head of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), Ljubo Jasnič, also strongly condemned the post. "My parents and my close relatives have survived Fascism and the Dachau death camp as patriotic Slovenians of Primorska.
"Me and my friends witnessed the literal slaughtering in the Balkans, a genocide over a nation that could have been fatal for us as well. History obviously no longer teaches us," he told the STA.
The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said in its response for the STA that it "strongly condemned the post and expected from relevant bodies to act against the known person who glorified Hitler".
Opposition National Party (SNS) head Zmago Jelinčič blamed the post on "permissive parenting that has destroyed all traditional values and knowledge, including of history".
Purgar, who is also a member of the Yellow Jackets, a far-right group linked to neo-Nazis, meanwhile said on the NTA website that the purpose of the tweet was to "reveal all the misery of Slovenian 'left-wing politics' and journalism".