Croatia: A pop-up window sparks political controversy

Croatia: A pop-up window sparks political controversy

The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has announced legal action against the Index.hr news website for creating a pop-up window asking its visitors to say if they are “human beings or members of the HDZ” before entering the website.

“Since the use of audio and/or audio-visual media services for incitement of hatred or discrimination on the grounds of political or other convictions is prohibited in Croatia, we expect the competent authorities and the Croatian Journalists Association to act accordingly, while the HDZ will take appropriate legal action,” the party announced in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

A pop-up window appears on the Index.hr asking visitors to identify themselves either as human beings or HDZ members before proceeding to the website. The former option enables visitors to access the website, while the latter redirects to the website’s articles about corrupt HDZ members.

The HDZ strongly condemned this act of discrimination against its members and sympathisers, saying that it came “ten days after the lack of response to the hate speech incident of the owner of the Three Monkeys cafe in Rijeka.”

The cafe owner, angered by decisions of the government and the national COVID-19 response team, wrote on his Facebook page ten days ago that HDZ members and supporters were not welcome in his establishment.

Several cabinet ministers and HDZ MPs, MEPs and members have condemned the move made by the Index.hr website. Among them is Croatian Minister of Interior Davor Božinović, who said that “discrimination based on political affiliation is unacceptable and calls for a reaction from everyone in society who influences public opinion.”

Božinović added that “such a trend could be dangerous for society,” and that the Index move was in the same wavelength with a Facebook post by a cafe owner in Rijeka last week who said that HDZ members are not welcome in his establishment.

“It’s not about the person, it’s about the message. He believes the national COVID-19 response team is responsible, we are used to that. However, when you discriminate against a group based on political affiliation, that’s unacceptable. It calls for a reaction from everyone in society who influences public opinion. This should be made clear because such a trend can be dangerous for society,” Božinović told N1 television. /ibna