A Local Serbian Politician Threatened on Facebook to Hit an Activist With a Shovel for Organizing Protests

A tweet from activist Dragan Murar includes a screenshot of Deputy Mayor Ivan Jegorović's threatening Facebook message.

A tweet from activist Dragan Murar includes a screenshot of Deputy Mayor Ivan Jegorović Facebook message threatening him.

The deputy mayor of the northern Serbian municipality of Obrenovac threatened in a public status update on his personal Facebook profile to use a shovel “across the back” of activist Dragan Murar, who has been calling for protests there to demand better and more organized efforts in the badly flooded city.

Obrenovac, some 30 kilometers from Belgrade, was arguably the hardest hit in the recent tragic floods that devastated several countries in the Balkans. Most homes, crops and businesses in Obrenovac have been virtually wiped out and its population of over 30,000 people mostly displaced until further notice to Belgrade and towns throughout the area while the clean-up process is ongoing. The process is a slow and tedious one. Rains still fall every few days in the region, and many have criticized what they say is authorities’ lack of organization in making the flooded areas livable again.

Dragan Murar is among those who have been publicly demanding a better effort from the local and national governments to help Obrenovac recover. He has been trying to organize protests on Twitter in front of the town's municipal building and has, in the name of the citizens of Obrenovac, handed in a list of suggestions and demands to city officials:

Here are the precise demands that were delivered to the cabinet of the Prime Minister, Marko Blagojević [appointed Head of Office for Reconstruction], and Zorana Mihajlović [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure] pic.twitter.com/U092AmdVp9

— Dragan Murar (@muki68) July 7, 2014

Following Murar's demands and attempt to gather protesters, deputy mayor  Ivan Jegorović openly criticized Murar on Facebook and later publicly posted a picture of a shovel on his personal profile, attracting a plethora of comments both in support and against Murar from users who had followed the online altercation.

Jegorović's Facebook status has since become unavailable to the public, but screenshots of the update were captured by several users, showing Jegovorić as having said:

Ti pijanduro sto predvodis ove nazovi proteste i sto brukas Obrenovac i Obrenovcane zastupajuci politiku mediokritetskih politickih partija, bolje bi ti bilo da uzmes lopatu u ruke i uradis nesto korisno za svoj grad. Bavis se politikom i tvitujes u vreme kada je ovom gradu potreban krvav rad. UZMI TU LOPATU DA TI JE JA NE BIH DAO PO LEDJIMA.

You drunkard who has been leading those so-called protests and embarrassing Obrenovac and the people of Obrenovac by representing the politics or mediocre political parties, [you had] better take a shovel into your hands and do something useful with it. TAKE THAT SHOVEL SO I DON'T GIVE IT TO YOU ACROSS YOUR BACK.

Murar was among the first to capture a screenshot of the quote and immediately tweet it to his followers:

An open call for lynching!! I can't walk around my town freely anymore because of [Mayor] Čučković's deputy. Duly reported to the police pic.twitter.com/l8BiQJrEvU

— Dragan Murar (@muki68) July 7, 2014

Activists and organizations have since drawn attention to this altercation and have condemned the use of such verbal threats by politicians. Blog Open, organizer of what was the most popular annual gathering of bloggers in the country, made a statement about the matter, emphasizing:

Niko, nikakvim povodom, ne sme pretiti nikome, a posebno ne koristeći društvene mreže, jer na taj način svoje pretnje čini još opasnijim, i mogu se razumeti kao ućutkivanje, zastrašivanje i javni poziv na linč.

Svačije je pravo da izražava svoje stavove i mišljenje o bilo kakvoj društvenoj pojavi, a posebno u situaciji kada su životni uslovi toliko otežani, a dignitet ljudi toliko povređen, kao što je to slučaj u Obrenovcu.

No one, for any reason, is allowed to threaten anyone, in particular using social networks, because this makes the threat even more dangerous and can be taken as stifling, inciting fear and a public call for lynching.

Everyone has a right to express their positions and opinions about any social phenomenon, especially in a situation in which living conditions are so difficult and the dignity of people so bruised, as is the case with Obrenovac.

Other than mentioning Murar in a later status update and in comments, deputy mayor Jegorović has not made any statements regarding this matter. Many commenters on both men's social media accounts criticized the politician's verbal threats, while others agreed with him and incited further hate speech and threats.

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