Cablegate: Fans' Behavior at Concert Angers Croatia's Jewish
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0623 1801244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291244Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7868
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS ZAGREB 000623
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL HR HUMAN RIGHTS
SUBJECT: FANS' BEHAVIOR AT CONCERT ANGERS CROATIA'S JEWISH
(U) Sensitive but unclassified; please handle accordingly.
1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Nationalist domestic pop star
Marko Perkovic (aka - Thompson) was again in the spotlight
following a June 17th concert in Zagreb's Maksimir stadium.
With an estimated attendance of 50,000 people, the
controversial performer refrained from making his earlier
pro-Ustashe references and Hitler-style salutes; however some
of his young fans did not. Fans were seen wearing Ustashe
apparel, chanting Ustashe songs and slogans, and displaying
outlawed Ustashe symbols. We agree with our interlocutors
here that the behavior of the audience, unacceptable as it
was, represented not a resurgence of fascism but the presence
of a substantial cadre of disaffected youth who have little
understanding of the Ustashe period. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
2. (SBU) The politically active Jewish Community of Zagreb
reacted expressing their outrage over the behavior of the
fans and criticized the limited response of Croatian
authorities towards the display of banned symbols at the
concert. Criticism was also expressed by the Simon
Wiesenthal Center and leaders of The Association of
Anti-Fascist Fighters and Croatian Anti-Fascists. A key
concern was the lack of police efforts to detect and prevent
the use of Ustashe insignia by the audience.
3. (SBU) On Tuesday, June 19, the GoC issued a statement
rejecting the display of insignia and salutes from the World
War Two Ustashe regime: "Contemporary Croatia rests on the
values of anti-fascism and resistance to all forms of
totalitarianism. The government calls on all components of
Croatian society, notably those with influence on youth, to
nurture and promote the values on which contemporary Europe
rests." President Mesic, in a separate statement, further
added that people who use the Ustashe salute "Za Dom Spremni"
and glorify the Independent State of Croatia are clearly
headed in the wrong direction.
4. (SBU) Ambassador discussed the concert with Dr. Ivo
Goldstein, President of the Bet Israel Jewish community,
Shmuel Meirom, the Israeli Ambassador to Croatia, and Dragan
Primorac, the Croatian Minister of Science, Education and
Sport. All were concerned by any use of Ustashe symbols, but
attributed the misbehavior to a relatively small number of
young fans, rather than to a broader societal problem.
Goldstein said it was important to differentiate Thompson,
who had not used Ustashe symbols at the concert, from his
fans. Meirom noted that while any display of Ustashe
paraphernalia was an issue of concern, compared with 50,000
people in the audience the number wearing Ustashe shirts and
other symbols was small. Primorac, who, contrary to press
reports did not attend the concert, said that Thompson
himself was not the problem; there will always be some people
who will take advantage of such fora, however, to express
their views. He also said that he did not believe that most
of those wearing Ustashe paraphernalia really understood the
history behind the symbols; in any case, the views of this
small nationalistic group should not be considered indicative
of the perspective of Croatian youth as a whole.
5. (SBU) Comment: Thompson calls himself a patriot rather
than a nationalist. He has certainly moved away from the
nationalist and even semi-fascist imagery he used in the
1990's, just as these sentiments have become less and less
politically and socially acceptable in post-Tudjman Croatia.
Some of his fans, however, seem unwilling or unable to
distinguish between Ustashe "Chic" and the historical
realities that their style of rebellion and clothing
represent. The number of fans wearing T-shirts depicting
alleged war criminal Ante Gotovina gives credence to the
theory that fans were motivated more by a certain rebellious
"patriotism" than fascism or anti-Semitism.
6. (SBU) The Thompson case became visible in public in 2003
when two of his concerts were banned in Amsterdam at the
insistence of the Israeli Documentation Center (CIDI).
Existing Croatian laws ban broadcasting contents which incite
or spread national, racial or religious hatred, anti-Semitism
or xenophobia. Thompson's planned concert was also banned in
Sarajevo in May of this year.