MPs Call on Govt to Remove Public Interest Status from Far-Right Group

By , 18 Oct 2021, 15:07 PM Politics
Some "yellow jackets" from a protest in summer 2020 Some "yellow jackets" from a protest in summer 2020 Twitter

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STA, 18 October 2021 - The parliamentary Culture Committee on Monday called on the relevant ministry to strip the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values (Društvo za promocijo tradicionalnih vrednot), an association that has been linked to the Identitarian movement Yellow Jackets, of the status of an association in the public interest.

The Culture Ministry was also urged to reveal the association's role and explain the decision to grant this status to the association, whose erstwhile leader Urban Purgar resigned in September in the wake of controversy after he posted a "Hitler is #hero" tweet.

The session, called by the opposition Social Democrats (SD), Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Left and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) to discuss neo-Nazism and the worrying trends of hate speech, incitement of hatred and direct threats, was first held in mid-September.

No conclusions had been made so far as the session saw walk-outs and boycotting from the ruling Democrats (SDS) and coalition New Slovenia (NSi). Proposed resolutions could not be adopted at the beginning of October for the lack of quorum.

Today, the Culture Committee also adopted decisions condemning "any action based on incitement of hatred, lies and treats with liquidations" and calling on the competent authorities to examine whether the association functions in line with the constitution and law.

While there was no debate today, the preceding debate saw Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina saying that neo-Nazism "is not and never will or should be in Slovenia's public interest," adding that this could not be "part of our national identity."

Primož Siter of the Left said that the association was not "right-wing as a legitimate political idea in a certain political space, but an extremist movement that promotes Fascism and Nazism."

LMŠ deputy Lidija Divjak Mirnik said that the association could not possibly be in public interest by any criteria, and Marko Bandelli of the SAB was surprised that the ideas it promotes were even possible in a modern society.

Matjaž Nemec of the SD called against the "trampling on the values that have been created after Slovenia's independence with consensus", adding that "Slovenians do not deserve such an attitude towards their future."

Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti rejected the statements suggesting that he was cooperating with neo-Nazis, adding that "putting labels about Fascism and Nazism from 70 or 80 years ago is inadmissible".

"What you reproach others for, you then do yourselves," he said, adding that the ministry did not finance the association, while leaving it to the competent authorities to assess whether it was eligible for the status, as he is "no censor".

The minister discussed this at the session on 4 October, after he walked out from the first session on 13 September early, while Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič had already excused himself from attendance beforehand.

Simoniti said at the time that it would be good for discussion to be held in parliament once about "hate speech and totalitarian criminal systems such as Communism, Fascism and Nazism".

He said it was up to the authorities in charge to detect if neo-Nazism was present in Slovenia, while "it is required to approach in equal measure and vigilantly to detection of other totalitarian systems".

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