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Croatian Culture Minister’s Comments Draw Criticism

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned Croatian culture minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic’s “irresponsible statement” about a physical attack on journalist and writer Ante Tomic at a literary festival in the city of Split.

Hasanbegovic said he deplored “attacks on all citizens,” but went on to lecture Tomic and implicitly blame him for the attack by urging him to weigh “the importance of responsibility for words spoken or written in public.”

It was the second time in three years that Tomic has been the target of a physical attack.

“We find it disturbing that a government minister publicly justifies violence against a journalist,” RSF editor-in-chief Aude Rossigneux said. “No piece of writing, no matter how irritating, can justify a physical attack against a reporter or media outlet. Freedom of expression is not limited to the freedom to reassure or please readers.”

RSF said it is concerned about the overall situation of the media in Croatia, where journalists are often the victims of harassment or violence, and where defamation, “humiliating” comments, and insulting “the Republic, its emblem, its anthem or its flag” are criminalized.

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