Interview with Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief at Demokracija magazine: Freedom of speech under threat in Slovenia

  • Written by  Mariann Őry (Head of Foreign Desk, senior editor Mmagyar Hirlap)
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Jože Biščak. (Photo: Demokracija magazine) Jože Biščak. (Photo: Demokracija magazine)

"Freedom of speech is under threat in Slovenia, the government wants to financially undermine the only weekly which regularly reports about migrant crime in Europe, about LGBT madnesses or about politically incorrect things," said Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief at Demokracija magazine, in interview for Magyar Hírlap (HERE). //This is a longer version//

What is the reason of the attacks against magazine Demokracija?

After the revision of the magazine Demokracija in the beginning of 2018, graphically and contently, the number of readers increased and the magazine became more influential in the Slovenian media space. At the same time, this is a magazine that is not politically correct, it reports on things that the mainstream media does not report on. One such topic is migration. The magazine has a special section in which we report about the crimes of migrants all across Europe. Other media do not have this; people can only read in our magazine about migrants' crime, which is not a bit. In addition, the magazine strongly opposes indoctrination with the LGBT agenda; it advocates not only democracy, but also for greater freedom of the every individual. It should be noted that democracy as such does not yet bring freedom. Democracy is only the way and form of government, which does not automatically mean freedom. Freedom does not only mean that you are not deprived of liberty. Freedom is much more, it means that you have the right to act and freely express your opinions, without worrying that someone, especially authority from the position of political power, would be restrained. And so this is the way free thinking disturbs left government. It is similar at the level of Europe. The ruling elite has nothing to do with democracy, which they like to rely on, has nothing to do with human rights, they have less to do with freedom - the value that made Europe the most magnificent civilization and put it on the first place in human history.

The Demokracija magazine has become disturbing for left government?

Yes. Because all of this the Demokracija magazine has become disturbing for left government, they does not just want to silence it but also to destroy it materially. For this reason, Mr.Marjan Šarec, for example, has called all state-owned enterprises not to advertise in the media that "spread intolerance". With this statement he clearly pointed on the Demokracija magazine.

How this is legally justified?

This is in no way justified; it cannot be, because it is in direct contravention of the Constitution. With regard to freedom of expression, everything that the Constitution, the law and the judiciary do not define as inadmissible is permissible. And this border is very high in free and democratic countries. But in Slovenia, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has assimilated the role of the judge as to what is hostile. This is totally unacceptable in a democratic society and is an abuse of the Prime Minister's position for clearing various matters with political and ideological opponents.

What now?

Now, the left government is trying to legalize the matter somehow with a change in the law on the media. The proposal is that a state official called the media inspector will decide what is "media incitement to hatred and intolerance". This media can be ordered to remove certain content and also being penalized for it. It is not only an inadmissible interference with autonomous editorial policy, but also interference in freedom of speech from a position of political power. Would you like to live in a country in which a state bureaucrat serving the respective authorities arbitrarily decides what permissible content is and what is not. And this all past the courts.

In democratic countries only the court can decide.

Of course! Only the court can decide on what is the so-called "hate speech". And this is sanctioned by Article 297 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Slovenia, where penalties are defined for those who allegedly inflate hatred, violence or intolerance based on racial, religious or ethnic affiliation, sex, skin colour or other beliefs. The same are punishable those who deny or diminish the significance of the Holocaust or the crimes against humanity. But this article has a safeguard that in some way protects the freedom of expression of the people against the abuse of power. Namely, under this article, only those who threaten public order and peace can be punished, or do so by using a threat.

You are in the fifth report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in the Council of Europe.

Yes. People in ECRI are completely crazy. Now, be careful!  This safeguard, or this condition, has been flagged by ECRI in the Council of Europe in its report on Slovenia as a barrier to punishment, and therefore urged the government to eliminate this disadvantage or obstacle. Even more. From the 33rd point, it is regrettable that Slovenia, when leaving Yugoslavia, renounced the infamous Article 133 of the Criminal Code of the SFRJ, since it would be easier to persuade other people with this formulation of "verbal delict". Do they even know how many people were beastly persecuted or murdered for the sake of article 133? Do they even know that Tito and his communist regime in the former Yugoslavia after the Second World War killed nearly one million people. Exclusively because they were of a different opinion than a monolithic and totalitarian power. And a politically correct Europe would now, together with the Slovenian government, adopt the article of the Criminal Code, which will be similar to the infamous Article 133, thus starting to prosecute and punish everything that will not be in line with their agenda.

What is the balance of power like in Slovenia? I mean the popularity of parties and their influence.

Although the right-wing SDS, led by Janez Janša, won the last parliamentary elections, did not form a government, since all other parties had already stated before the elections that they would not be in the government with the SDS. This has been repeated for several years now. The only program that the left and middle parties have is to oppose the SDS and Janez Janša. The parliamentary elections, with the support of the mainstream media dominated by the Left parties, therefore turn these elections into elections against the SDS.

The left elite or in other words the transitional left, which has the roots in the former communist regime, does not maintain power and privileges simply because it has power over the media, repressive bodies, education and finances, but also because people are believing the virtual reality the left parties are drawing to them. That's why the silent majority does not go to the elections and therefore make it possible a bad government to be chosen. Nevertheless, the SDS in Slovenia is undoubtedly the largest and most organized political party, which always puts Slovenia at the forefront in its program, struggles for values such as tradition, Slovene culture and a normal family. Unfortunately, the listed values for the left political parties, by the imposition of cultural Marxism, are characterized as racist, xenophobic and homophobic. Therefore, the SDS, which advocates these values, is stigmatized as extreme political parties.

(Translate by Samo Jursic)

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