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December 8, 2019
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Slovak Police investigating hateful, antigypsyist Facebook post

16.4.2019 8:18
A police vehicle in Slovakia. (PHOTO:  Wikimedia Commons)
A police vehicle in Slovakia. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

Many Facebook users in Slovakia, outraged by the racist, sadistic comments being posted online beneath media coverage of issues related to Romani people, have reported a particular author of the hateful invective to the Slovak Police. Marian Zboril has posted comments such as: "Burn all the gypsies to death. Hang the women and skin them, make their children watch and then drown them. Tear their remains to bits, let them rot in the sun, then throw them into the forest for animals to eat them. That's my solution to the Romani issue, not benefits and housing!"

Slovak Police are already investigating the content of the comments. "We can confirm that the National Criminal Agency is investigating the commentary that was brought to our attention when people sent copies of it to us en masse," detectives posted to Facebook.

Apology or "apology"?

The O mediách website, which reports on media in Slovakia, said that after posting the comment Zboril first removed the image of his face from his Facebook profile photo and then made his profile inaccessible. Several hours later, he posted this apology for the comment: "I am not a bad person and I'm sorry about this mistake. I regret it from the bottom of my soul and I hope I can be forgiven."

The authors of the Facebook page Prečo ľuďom hrabe? republished the comments and added their own opinion of the author:  "A typical 'hero'. First he writes disgusting filth and when he learns that he, too, might suffer some unpleasantness because of it, then he backs down and repents. He's as believable as a medieval castle wall made out of cardboard."

The Slovak Criminal Code, according to O médiách, applies to verbal threats as follows:  "Whoever threatens a group of persons or an individual because of their affiliation with a race, nation, nationality, skin color, ethnic group, family origin or religious faith, if those reasons are the pretext for the threats of committing a crime against them or restricting their rights and freedoms; and whoever undertakes such restrictions or incites the restrictions of the rights and freedoms of any nation, nationality, race or ethnic group shall be punished by deprivation of liberty for up to three years." If a perpetrator makes such criminal threats "publicly, motivated by a particular aim, as a public official, as a member of an extremist group, or during a crisis situation" then, if convicted, the perpetrator can be sentenced to between two and six years in prison.

Hateful online comments in the Czech Republic

The Czech Police have also investigated hateful online comments. For example, there was the case of the photograph of first-graders at a primary school in Teplice.

The photo showed Arab, Romani and Vietnamese children in the class, and after it was posted to social media, some people online began to call the schoolchildren "little suicide bombers", for example. Others, upon learning that the school is located on Plynárenská Street ("Gas Mains Street") proposed that the children should be "sent to the gas chambers" and killed there.

Police are also investigating online comments about the attack committed against the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, specifically whether some Czech-language users online have committed the felony of approving of a crime. The justice system and police also continue to investigate the racist threats made online against the Romani singer Radek Banga.

Twelve people have been charged in that case and nine convictions have been handed down so far. The strictest punishment was handed down by the District Court in Prostějov against 23-year-old Aleš Rozsíval, who received an 18-month conditional sentence suspended for 30 months.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Facebook, Hate, Racism, Slovakia



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