By: Mitja Iršič
When someone pushed activist Nika Kovač in the midst of Ljubljana last year, it was not only headline-worthy for the mainstream media but also engaged the political leadership itself, even though it was never proven to be a targeted attack on her, let alone that the incident had any deeper political background. The front pages were saturated with the same photograph of the young activist with an amateurishly tied bandage, symbolically posed in front of graffiti reading “death to fascism!”.
The authorities also responded. The Prime Minister himself spoke out, saying, “I cannot imagine how a normal adult man can stoop to such a level against young girls; this is completely unacceptable. The government aims to contribute to the elevation of political culture, which includes combating hate speech and promoting non-violent public communication. Representatives of political and public life can significantly contribute to improving the culture of dialogue and tolerance in our society by setting an example.”
The President of the Republic tweeted that she does not want such a Slovenia and has been warning for over 15 years that harsh words can quickly lead to physical violence, as evidenced by the mentioned attack. “Let us remember the saying: ‘Words are like stones; wherever they fall, they leave a trace.’ Nika Kovač, courageously forward!”
In addition to the government and the president, the entire coalition also issued more or less melodramatic proclamations, stating that, following this horrifying attack, freedom of speech should continue to be restricted.
Now let’s move to 2023. A 17-year-old Palestinian, living in an asylum in Logatec, raped a 78-year-old woman in the Cerknica area this summer after she caught him during a robbery. The police did not even inform the public about the incident. When the media – on the basis of calls from citizens – managed to find out the truth, the police described the incident with such formality as if it was a fight in some kind of asylum. The ruling policy also remained silent. Opposition politicians who spoke about the event were accused of inciting racism and scoring political points.
Recently, a group of young migrants raped a young girl in a railway underpass, literally in the middle of Ljubljana. The same routine was repeated again. At first, the police wanted to cover up the act. When pressed by the media based on the townspeople’s reports, they told a dry new story of a sexual assault by a group of four men. They did not release more – perhaps to prevent secondary victimisation of the victim. The authorities were silent.
Just about a week later, a 23-year-old Moroccan, with the help of a 26-year-old Moroccan, wanted to rape a woman on the green in the middle of Ljubljana’s Tabor. The police were silent again – contrary to long-standing practice, they put a complete moratorium on reporting rapes. The fact that the event really happened was only announced to the public when they were pressed by journalists. The authorities were silent again.
The same authorities that, because someone pushed Nika Kovač at a bus stop, even wanted to change legislation regarding hate speech, looked away and pretended nothing happened.
None of the leaders will go in front of the cameras and say that the police must tighten control, that rape must be punished more severely, or, God forbid, that asylum policies need to be re-evaluated, and migrants returned to safe countries.
What does this communicate? The authorities do not care about the 78-year-old woman and the girl whose lives were forever destroyed by migrants, nor about countless similar victims whose stories the public never learned because the police did not report them. These women are not heirs to some important “Yugoslav” dynasty. They are not tools with which the left-wing politics could justify its crackdown on freedom of speech. They are just ordinary people – like you and me. The authorities do not care about them. The authorities do not care about us. As a former president of the country once accidentally admitted, there are first- and second-class issues. There are also first- and second-class people. Those reading this are not first-class, as the president and prime minister will not speak up if someone pushes you at a bus stop. They will also remain silent if an asylum seeker stabs you in the stomach. Furthermore, the police will not report what happened to you, except in some dry obituary-style report like “55-year-old man stabbed in an incident near Celje”. They do not care. They will not help you. The institutions of the state are not there to assist you, politically irrelevant. Therefore, heed the wise words of the opposition leader: “Arm yourselves – legally!” You are not first-class. You and your family can only be protected by yourselves.