World Bulletin/News Desk
A Croatian football player was fined 3,350 euros for chanting an extremist slogan during a game in Tuesday in capital Zagreb.
Josip Simunic drew the ire of Croatian officials as well as condemnation from Europe and the world when he shouted "For the homeland" and received an excited response from some 30,000 fans who shouted back at him "ready" after a 2-0 win against Iceland at the Maksimir that earned Croatia a berth at 2014 World Cup this summer.
The chant was used by the Croatian fascist organization and Nazi-Germany ally Ustahsa which was active before and during the Second World War.
A Croatian state attorney fined him on Friday for "inciting racial hatred and harassment of participants in public gatherings."
FIFA confirmed that it has launched "disciplinary proceedings" against Simunic and an investigation into Croatia's fans.
Ustasha's slogans are but still popular among extremists in Croatia.
Zarko Puhovski, a political analyst and professor of philosophy in Zagreb, explained in an interview with Anadolu Agency that in Croatia, as well as in some other countries of former Yugoslavia people have easily believed that some things remained in the past, "because it's been 18 years since the war ended."
Puhovski criticized Croatian trainer Niko Kovac for his support to Simunic and for failing to join those who condemned Simunic's act, which, he said, was "shameful."
Journalist Boris Dezulovic wrote on Friday that Simunic's move was not as important as the fact that 30,000 people who chanted back at him at the stadium.
Dezulovic said such kind of hatred discourse was transferred from generation to generation and it was mistaken for "a traditional Croatian term. This is simply a lie."
"Ready for home" in the full sense is the Ustasha's slogan," Puhovski, the political analyst, affirmed.
Fascism through popular culture
Marko Petrovic Thompson is one of the most popular singers in Croatia, almost an idol, and his concerts in Croatia and in Croat-majority parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina draw tens of thousands of fans.
Some 40,000 fans gathered the same night when Croatia celebrated the entry into the EU, to listen Petrovic at one of his concerts where encountering the Ustasha's symbols as well as fascist greetings is a common occurrence.
Young people frequenting Thompson's concerts often wear Ustasha caps, T-shirts with ''U'' labels, flash fascist greetings as they mistakenly believe that it was a show of patriotism.
The Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina has warned that the number of attacks on Bosniak returnees and mosques always increased after Thompson's concerts in Herzegovina.
Croatia between fascism and Europe
''We had an incident at a football game that shows that some people still do not understand how much damage this makes to Croatia. It gives an ugly perspective of a young EU member, which has recently stepped into the big European family,'' said Drago Hedl, a prominent Croatian journalist.
He said this incident added to fears that such radicalization could lead to serious disturbances on the political scene in Croatia, but he hopes that the country will go through the democratic path.
''The Croats have always chosen the option that is closer to civilized positions of the European democracy than to some kind of primitive and anarchic regimes that cannot be said to respect democratic norms,'' Hedl told an interview with Anadolu Agency.
His fans also launched a couple of Facebook pages to express their support for Simunic. The largest of the groups is named "Potpora Josipu Simunicu" (Support to Josip Simunic) which currently has 150,000 members.Last Mod: 23 Kasım 2013, 17:20