“Je Suis Charlie”: the view from contemporary Serbia.
In a society in which the persecution and silencing of critical thought has always been successfully accomplished by the state, by institutions, by religion and even by the family; in a society which allows state journalists to incite hate, to openly call for violence and terror, to celebrate war, to defend crimes and criminals, to condemn and ridicule victims, all without having to answer for it; in a society in which a man responsible for shutting down every free newspaper and TV station, during whose term in office some of the bravest free-spirited critics were killed, who shares money from the public purse with murderers, has been rewarded with majority support; a man who is unfailingly showered with praise on every front page, every television program, and every doctored video, who is criticized only by those newspapers which fault him for not making his dictatorship even more aggressive, who has appeared on over 800 front pages in the last year alone, over one hundred of which belong to the ‘esteemed’ oldest Serbian newspaper, the same newspaper which is once again (with the exception of Dušan Petričić’s cartoons) bringing together all of Belgrade’s armchair fascists and dangerous dilettantes, who treat a woman as a man’s property only worth something if she gives birth, who sees Putin as the saviour and the Pentagon as Satan; what solidarity with fearless critics can we speak of now that the few most important political television programs have been shut down with next to no resistance at all, now that the private and once brave television station is disciplined while the director of the other television station forbids members of the media access to the cemetery and governs the police investigation of a so-called suicide using his own and his friends’ media outlets, now that the local television has become a party PA-system, now that the microphones are turned off during the opposition’s speech in parliament, to say nothing of the promotion of mediocre values and apathy in every minute of every media time slot; what solidarity with brave satirists do we think we have when no one dares to pose a meaningful question at a press conference, not even concerning the personal ID of the Premier’s brother or about plagiarism, or to criticize the discontinuing of the Desimir Tošić Prize – awarded, as it happens, precisely for journalistic courage even if not for asking “Excuse me, did you find that Sarajevo has changed since you looked at it from the hilltops in 1994?” What understanding of and respect for these tireless fighters for secularism can we speak of when we, with no compunction at all, broadcast the President’s Christmas address, the Patriarch’s hate speech or the latest endorsement of the Premier as Serbia’s saviour, and when soon enough the Serbian Orthodox Church will have its own TV channel which will, I do believe, be VAT exempt? But we will never find out about that, because there will be no one to ask the question.
Because, je suis Charlie, whoever that is.
Translated from the original B/C/S by Kosta Gligorijevic