Resonant Voices Radar examines the disinformation, propaganda, hate speech and other dangerous online messages that polarize communities in Western Europe and the Balkans.
These are the major polarizing messages from November 2019.
Serbian and Russian Media Sensationalize “Little Schengen” Initiative
Media outlets based in Serbia and Russia, including Srpski dnevnik, WebTribune, and Pravda, have recently published sensationalized articles about the Western Balkans’ “Little Schengen” economic initiative.
The articles contain anti-immigrant narratives, going as far to liken migration from Albania to Adolph Hitler’s “Final Solution” in Serbia.
They not only encourage blind prejudice, but homogeneous states based on ethnicity. Moreover, the security concerns are unfounded and damaging to regional security, as they position communities against each other out of fear or anger.
“HR Svijet” Facebook Page Spreads Revisionist Stories
The Facebook page, “HR Svijet,” which is managed by the site of the same name, almost exclusively promotes nationalist and historically revisionist narratives.
Its content varies from stating extreme political views to reframing war criminals as national heroes.
One of its recent stories praises a book that attempts to exonerate six political officials and military commanders, who were convicted of crimes committed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. The book, written by political scientist and politician Miroslav Tudjman, relies on pseudo-scientific rationality to deny war crimes and appeal to a broader nationalist narrative.
Online Hate Speech Targets Vucjak Refugee Camp
The Vucjak refugee camp in western Bosnia has been a major target of hate speech, as outlets across Europe report on the dire conditions in the camp.
The Austrian outlet Der Standard published an article describing the migrants’ living conditions as winter approaches, which later attracted xenophobic comments. Commenters thanked Croatian border police for their aggressive behavior and accused the migrants of being criminals.
Other outlets including the Voice of Europe, BILD and oe24 also published articles that produced comments with hate speech against migrants, especially those who identified as Muslim.
In effect, these comments only inflame hatred toward different communities and make them more susceptible to violence.
False Article Fuels Xenophobia from Germany to Serbia
False articles often circulate on Facebook to connect extreme communities across borders.
One such article from Srbin.info falsely claimed that one-fourth of Germany’s population consisted of migrants and questioned how many will “vote for the current regime.” The post triggered inflammatory comments that called for “their compatriots in Serbia” to “take matters in their own hands.”
This demonstrates how social media has acted as a safe space for polarizing rhetoric among radical communities. As people share hardline opinions online, they reinforce and entrench extreme views.
Slovenian Media Pushes Extreme Narrative in Favor of Paramilitaries
The media outlets Dnevnik and Nova24 have published content promoting the use of far-right paramilitaries on the Slovenia-Croatia border. The articles characterize the police as incapable of protecting the border and advocate for the use of paramilitary units instead.
Backing paramilitaries has become a popular position among the far-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and SDS-backed media. However, this narrative overlooks the negative implications of arming civilians against migrants. It spuriously labels all migrants as a security threat and opens the door for individuals to use force above the rule of law.