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Our intention is to inform people of racist, homophobic, religious extreme hate speech perpetrators across social networking internet sites. And we also aim to be a focal point for people to access information and resources to report such perpetrators to appropriate web sites, governmental departments and law enforcement agencies around the world.

We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Serbian Extremists Using Social Networking Sites To Spread Their Hate Propaganda

A very interesting post appeared at the Transitions Online website about how Serbian extremists are using social networking site to promote, recruit, and inform people about their hate agenda.
Obviously this comes as no surprise to us at the Stand Up To Hate blog or the Stop Racism Canada web site. It’s being done by nearly all the hate groups/political parties currently active in the world.
Anyway it’s a very interesting item and well worth reading.

Originally posted by By Jelena Maksimovic at Transitions Online


It has become a truism of political activists that if you want to engage young people in politics you must work through social media. Though hailed as tools designed to increase people’s participation in civic life, ultimately leading to social change, social networks, blogs, and Twitter can be used by groups with radically different motives. In Serbia the definitive example is the intense campaign against last fall’s Belgrade Pride day, led by several extreme nationalist groups for whom social media are the prime channel of communication. As right-wing groups threatened to disrupt the gay and lesbian parade, authorities asked event organizers to move it to a less central location, but they refused, instead deciding to cancel it. Many people were dismayed by these events, seeing them as the state caving in to violent extremists.

In recent years, Serbia has witnessed the rise of nationalist right-wing groups, notably Serbian National Movement 1389 (SNP 1389). Alongside its anti-EU graffiti and participation in demonstrations against the independence of Kosovo, Internet users know SNP 1389 as one of the most diligent nationalist organizations active in social media. SNP 1389’s Facebook group has more than 8,000 members, many of whom post photos and messages on the page. Hate speech is tolerated by the group’s administrators. Ahead of Belgrade Gay Pride, some discussed how to prevent the parade from taking place. One member wrote on the group’s message “wall”: “I am concerned that they [gay and lesbian rights supporters] have organized themselves so well and that we will not be able to approach them, as the cops will seal all the access points. If the ‘faggot ball’ goes ahead without any trouble, it will be a huge problem for us. As far as I know, ‘our forces’ have not organized anything.”
Extremists' backers remain obscure
Hired by Belgrade Pride organizers to assess the security risks around the event, Zoran Dragisic, a professor at Belgrade University’s Faculty of Security Studies, analyzed the websites of SNP 1389 and Obraz, another prominent nationalist group. He found that they make no attempt to conceal their agenda. “Their ideology is always accessible, as they are using similar tools to those utilized by groups engaged in political terrorism. Their motives are always transparent,” he said. When the two organizations’ leaders were arrested after they led their supporters to the location reserved for Belgrade Pride on the day planned for the parade, they instantly became rebels to be revered by a growing number of supporters. The number of “fans” on the SNP 1389 Facebook page tripled from 600 to 1800 when leader Misa Vacic was sent to jail for 30 days on a charge of disturbing public order. Group members posted his “letters from prison” as a blog and on Twitter. Grass-roots initiatives have long been considered the domain of liberal youth. Following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, a short-lived, informal group known as Biro began producing videos as a backlash against the Belgrade government’s myopic focus on Kosovo. Videos such as “I am Not Your People Kostunica,” distributed on YouTube, addressed to the then-prime minister, voiced concern that Serbia was returning to its nationalist past, putting social and economic reforms on the back burner.

One of the founders of Biro, Vladimir Milovanovic, brands these activities as “emotional activism,” explaining that at the time he “felt that things were distorted and that such a perception of reality was not good for the society and myself, as a part of that society.” However, the group soon saw the limitations of YouTube activism as, according to Milovanovic, “The paradox lay in the fact that more than 1,000 people wanted to participate in our activities, while not a single foundation wanted to help us financially.” That view backs up the feeling among many activists that although social media are ideal tools for mobilizing many people quickly, in the long run civil activism still must be sustained in the time-tested ways. The financing of nationalist groups remains a murky area in Serbia. Security expert Dragisic sees a clear link between the state, which was reluctant to protect the Pride participants, and extremist groups. “These groups are the tip of the iceberg; they appear in the form of a dislocation of power from state institutions. Organizations like these can now prevent any public gathering from taking place. But their leaders are both financially and intellectually incapable of organizing such forceful movements,” he said. Although conclusive evidence is lacking, many Serbian journalists and analysts believe that elements of the Milosevic-era secret police remain in place in state bodies, from where they use their influence to support extreme nationalist organizations.

Facebook wars
Serbian authorities have hardened their public attitude toward extremists since the uproar surrounding the cancellation of Belgrade Pride in September, announcing a closer watch on the activities of extreme nationalist groups, as well as football hooligans. Although ahead of the event State Prosecutor Slobodan Radovanovic had dismissed the threats to gays and lesbians (graffiti in central Belgrade warned, “We are waiting for you”), as “polemics,” after it was cancelled he announced that all activities of extreme nationalist groups would be investigated and that such groups would be banned if their activities were shown to be unconstitutional. Perhaps emboldened by their success in stopping the gay pride parade, nationalist groups then returned to one of their main battlegrounds – stopping Serbia’s integration into Western institutions. For most Serbs, the most tangible evidence yet of the country’s closer ties to the EU came on 19 December with the end of the visa requirements for travel to the Schengen area, a step that the government headed by Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic had made a priority when it took office 18 months ago. Nationalist rhetoric kept on hammering on favorite themes such as the preservation of Serbia’s historic territory, including Kosovo, the notion that the EU will require Belgrade to recognize Kosovo’s independence as a condition for accession, or that joining NATO is also a prerequisite.

On 12 January 200 people, including academics, public personalities, journalists, and politicians, urged the government to call a referendum on Serbia’s potential candidacy for NATO. Similar topics occupy the blogs and Facebook pages of nationalist groups. The SNP 1389 blog lists reasons against Serbia joining the EU: instead of inflammatory language, it features complaints about the “democratic deficit,” how the union is led by unelected bureaucrats “known for inefficiency and corruption,” and the “useless and expensive” European Parliament. Alongside the more active groups such as SNP 1389 and Obraz, others, not outwardly extremist, but with nationalistic content, are present in all former Yugoslav countries and are in a “Facebook war” with one another. Their main goal is to accumulate as many supporters as possible for causes such as “Thank God I’m Croatian” (about 10,000 members), “Let’s See How Many Serbs Are on Facebook” (more than 145,000 members), and “Group for Abolishing Republika Srpska and the Federation and in Support of a United Bosnia and Herzegovina” (11,000 members). Most are not very active, but the content of the Serbian groups, typically proclamations that Kosovo is still part of Serbia, calls to uphold traditional values, as well as homophobic statements, should be taken seriously as an indicator of the prevailing sympathies of a sizeable part of Serbian youth.

As in many countries, Facebook is the most popular website among Serbian youth, research conducted in 2008 by the international journalism support organization IREX showed. Another unsurprising finding was that the Internet has primacy over newspapers and TV among young people. Under the guise of free speech, nationalist and extremist groups are using all available tools to mobilize their supporters and recruit more members. Their ideology is reflected both in social media aimed primarily at young people and in news stories in popular tabloid papers, known as a buttress of illiberalism in Serbian society since the wars of the 1990s. In order to counteract the influence of hard-line nationalist views among youth it’s necessary to start with the schools, says Marko Karadzic, the state secretary in the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and one of Serbia’s most vocal proponents of the rights of people outside the mainstream of society. “There is a wider problem of young people’s education. Their teachers are not instructed on how to promote tolerance among the students,” Karadzic said in a discussion after the screening of a documentary film on nationalist groups. “If we don’t change that, physical bans of these groups will be futile.” Political divisions in Serbian society are played out in the online sphere and are engaging not just supporters of nationalist movements. Biro’s Milovanovic says he notes something he calls “civic fascism,” where “people who stand for liberal ideas are compelled to engage in discussions with people with different political opinions in a banal and vulgar way. The ideology is not crucial here. There is aggression, anger, and discontent on all sides.”