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Slovakia: Unwanted Patriotism

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Slovakia, Education, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Law, Politics, Protest

According to SME.sk [1] (SLO), a draft bill by the Slovak National Party [2] (SNS) will introduce “obligatory patriotism” in Slovakia beginning April 1:

[…] It is Monday morning. In every state-run […] school or university in Slovakia directors must have the national anthem performed in a way that every student is able to hear it. In the classrooms, in addition to the portrait of the president, there are also the state emblem, the national flag, the text of the anthem and the preamble to the constitution.

This is how it is going to be like in every state school from April 1 [btw, traditional ‘fool's day’], as parliament members from the government coalition have approved the controversial patriotic law designed by SNS.

[…]

Obligatory patriotism is not limited to schools. Coalition parliament members will bring it also to adults. At every sports event organized by national sports organizations the anthem will be performed. ‘Lightning over the Tatras [3]‘ will also sound before parliament meetings, and at the beginning of local government and parliament meetings. Every officer entering civil service will have to take an obligatory oath of loyalty to the republic.

[…]

“We will be bigger patriots,” promised Rafael Rafaj from SNS.

[…]

Rafaj also said that the state media would have to broadcast the anthem at midnight.

Other Slovak newspapers also point out that the new law is controversial. Pravda, for example, recalls [4] (SLO) that the Soviet anthem was obligatory during the 1950s and publishes the question asked by school principals: who will pay the bills (the expected cost of the implementation of the law is about 1 million euro) when the ministry of education refuses to do it?

Bloggers are against the new law, too, and there have been organized protests in front of the presidential palace and the parliament (two sample reports (SLO) are at Robert Mihaly's blog – here [5] and here [6]).

Here is a short selection from thousands of netizens’ comments [7] (SLO):

Trautiq:

Strange but a very effective support of private schools.

foobar2k:

All it takes it to bring your child to school 10-15 minutes after lessons begin.

pokaini:

:-)) this is exactly what I will do every Monday too :-)

niau:

Promises of loyalty are well known to SNS chief – in 2004 he promised loyalty to his third wife already… ;-)

Slovän:

Not afraid, because there are no sanctions for breaking this law, but anyway I think it is not good. Especially the anthem at the beginning of every week. As a student of pedagogy, I perceive it quite negatively and directly because I have a positive attitude towards the anthem. The anthem has to be respected, but how can someone have respect for an anthem that will bother him this way?

1qwerty1:

It will end the same way as with the Russian language. It used to be obligatory, too, and let's be honest: who remembers even their [Cyrillic] letters now?

mibosa:

So what? I had experience with the Labor song, the Internationale and “Soyuz nerushimyj” [the Soviet anthem] – and I survived it. And the children will sing it and, believe me, they will have fun doing it.

livik:

I just wanna mention that I have no doubt that this president will submissively sign this pearl.

ficobijec_no.1:

During next year's census, it is necessary to write this in the ‘nationality’ box: “Apache.”

zlyzlyzlykapitalista:

Good idea, the opposite to Comanches :-) [Comanche is in Slovakia a shortcut for ‘communist.’ Comments that follow in this forum name various other nationalities that people have already chosen in the past census to make clear they were not members of the same nation as SNS members. In another discussion of this issue, an unverified news item was mentioned that claimed that in the Czech Republic such a big Eskimo minority had been created for the similar reasons that they already qualified for financial support from the government.]

wladelny:

Maybe a nephew of some parliament member owns a plant for printing of state symbols, the text of the anthem and the preambles? :D

hollywood:

My God, don't we have other problems? I wonder how they are going to play the anthem: our education system even without this has no money – and now they have to buy new CDs.

haskii86:

Do not be afraid, SNS has suppliers who are waiting already.

charl1:

And is this the punishment that we have this government, my Lord? I promise I will be good, just don't let them govern more times! Amen.

arway:

At my command: “To love our dear Slovak homeland!” – “Always ready!”

Update: After protests and later appeal of leader of the biggest government-coalition party (which originally voted for this law) president did not sign [8] (SLO).