Hate Crime Victims in Serbia: A Case Study of Context and Social Perceptions
This article provides an overview of the Republic of Serbia’s legal framework that incorporates strong guarantees for protection from discrimination, national minorities’ rights, and prosecution of (ethnic) hate crimes, but also describes a social context loaded with strong prejudices. To illustrate the above, I present a case study of two similar incidents of alleged hate crimes reported in a local Serbian newspaper. In both cases, the victims were young men belonging to ethnic minorities. In 2015, within a period of two months, a Serb was attacked in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, and an Albanian-speaking man in the Serbian town, Novi Sad. The articles attracted online comments, 205 and 134 respectively, mostly from readers from Serbia. These comments elicited what are likely to be honest responses because of the relative anonymity provided to authors. By analyzing commentaries on these newspaper items, this article compares social responses to hate crime cases where victims belonged to different ethnic groups and where the incidents occurred in different geographic and social contexts.
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