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06:47, 29 May 2017 Monday
20:01, 27 January 2017 Friday

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Croatian Jews boycott Holocaust event over army sign
Croatian Jews boycott Holocaust event over army sign

Campaigners claim military billboard at site of former WWII death camp glorifies country's fascist past

World Bulletin / News Desk

 A Jewish group in Croatia boycotted Friday’s official International Holocaust Remembrance Day event in a row over a controversial army billboard which campaigners claimed glorified the country’s fascist past.

While leaders of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina gathered in their respective capitals for events to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, many Croatian Jews remained upset over a sign erected near the site of a WWII death camp.

The Croatian Armed Forces erected a board at Jasenovac bearing a controversial salute which read "Za dom spremni" meaning "ready".

It was a salute used during World War II by the pro-German Ustase movement and is viewed by some as the equivalent of the Nazi "Sieg Heil" greeting.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said publicly the board should not be removed, because it a tribute to fallen members of the Croatian Armed Forces.

 Established in 1941, the Jasenovac camp saw an estimated 100,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and others murdered by the Ustase regime of Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic.

Elsewhere in the Balkans on Friday, a delegation led by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic laid wreaths in front of Belgrade’s monument to World War II genocide victims

Addressing a crowd, Nikolic sent a message that everyone should commit to ensuring peace so that these crimes would not happen again.

"I will do my best to impose that we create an institution to show respect to victims -- all Serbs, Jews and Roma and other victims from the First and Second World Wars,” he said.

The Belgrade ceremony was attended by relatives of the victims, representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia and of the Roma community, as well as a number of diplomats, including Turkish ambassador Tanju Bilgic.

In Bosnia, the Jewish community commemorated the day with prayers for Holocaust victims in the capital Sarajevo.

The president of Bosnia’s Jewish community, Jakov Finci, said the memory of the Holocaust was also the memory of all innocent dead.

 



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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.