News 17 May 17

Slovenian City Bans Croat Nationalist Thompson’s Concert

Citing a security risk, authorities in Maribor banned Saturday’s planned concert by the Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic ‘Thompson’.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Marko Perkovic Thompson. Photo Wikimedia Commons Roberta F.

Authorities of the eastern Slovenian city of Maribor on Wednesday banned a concert of the Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic Thompson, which should have taken place in the local festival hall.

Maribor authorities acted on the proposal of the Slovenian police who on Monday claimed information “which indicates an increased security risk due to the danger that the concert will be used to carry out criminal offences.

“There is a strong probability that at the concert, individuals will come from places where concerts by this musician were banned in order to carry out criminal offences,” police said.

In previous years, concerts by Thompson have been banned in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sarajevo and the Croatian town of Pula.

Concerns that the singer was promoting fascism have circulated in Slovenia for over a month.

“In Maribor there is no place for iconography and symbolism causing further division after World War II, and there is no room for fascism,” Maribor Mayor Andrej Fistravec told Slovenian News Agency, STA, in April.

Fistravec also cited Thompson’s use of the Croatian WWII fascist chant “Za dom spremni” [“Ready for the Homeland”] in his 1991 wartime song “Cavoglave”, as well as other songs explicitly praising the Fascist Ustasa movement.

In 2009, his performance of the Ustasa-praising song, “Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara” – the names of Ustasa-run concentration camps – caused outrage in Croatia and the region.

Fistravec was supported by a number of mayors in Slovenia, as well as by different NGOs.

The Slovenian President, Borut Pahor, stated on Tuesday that he “rejects” Thompson’s views while Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that he “does not support concerts or rallies that spread hatred or such rhetoric”.

Chair of parliament Milan Brglez was more critical, claiming that Thompson “praises the Ustasa regime and intolerance towards non-Croats”, especially mentioning his controversial song “Anica kninska kraljica” [“Anica, Queen of Knin”].

The song includes the line: “I’ll set Krajina on fire all the way to Knin”, a reference to the rebel Serbs’ self-proclaimed wartime statelet that was crushed by the Croatian military in 1995.

After hearing that the police proposed a ban, Thompson on Tuesday said he was misjudged.

“Anyone who has listened to my songs can find nothing of which they accuse me,” he said, adding that he will bring the case to the Croatian leadership if the concert is banned.

“I'm going to ask [Croatian] President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and [Foreign Minister] Davor Ivo Stier whether they accept this claim that my audience and I spread hatred and praise fascism. I'm curious what they will do to stop the spread of untruths and sticking labels. Are my music and audience banned?” he concluded.

Some 80,000 people watched Thompson celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1995 military operation “Storm” in 2015, many chanting, “Kill a Serb” and “Za dom spremni”.

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