Following the actions of U.S. Facebook users isn’t a good idea in other countries, especially Croatia. Niksa Klecak, a Croatian Facebook user decided to create a group protesting the country’s Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, after seeing the group, “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who dislike George Bush!” surpass 1 million users.
Klecak’s group, “I bet I can find 5,000 people that hate the Prime minister” has already surpassed its target size. I doubt Klecak will be updating the title of the group anytime soon though as Svetlana Gladkova reports that he has since been arrested. Prime Minister Sanader has been under extreme pressure as a direct result of the global financial crisis. According to Gladkova, he has even stated “publicly that he would not allow the wages in the country to grow.”
Croatia currently has over 400,000 users on Facebook and that is more than a 15 percent growth over last month according to our own internal statistics. Facebook tends to be one of the first locations that younger generations turn to for expressing their political frustrations. There is no doubt that Facebook will continue to be a center for political expression.
Svetlana Gladkova suggests that the primary reason he was arrested was not simply that he created the Facebook group but that, “he is actually the president of one of the local branches of the youth of SDP (social democratic party) which is in opposition to the government in Croatia.” Niksa Klecak was eventually released due to a lack of evidence after being initially arrested for keeping “Nazi symbols and propaganda at home.”
I’m a little confused as to why that is illegal but perhaps part of this story has been lost in translation. Initially I was confused about why it was illegal but commenters have since reminded me about certain laws in Europe banning Nazi paraphernalia. I’m sure we’ll here more about it in the coming days. Regardless of what exactly took place, it’s clear that there is tension between citizens of Croatia and the government based on activities taking place on Facebook. This tension has erupted in other countries around the world as Facebook has become an effective tool for spreading Democratic ideals and individual freedom.
Image from America.gov.