Sarajevo, September 16, 2021 – In Sarajevo, Borka Rudic, the General Secretary of the BH Journalists’ Association (BHN) and professor in journalism Lejla Turcilo, are targeted by nationalistically motivated hateful comments on social networks. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate in Bosnia in condemning the smear campaign and urging the authorities to investigate the case.
Ricardo Gutiérrez, the EFJ General Secretary, reacted: “We express our support to Lejla Turcilo and Borka Rudic. Online harassment and smear campaigns are not just words. We call on the BiH authorities to publicly condemn the brutal campaign and immediately investigate the case. This can’t go any longer.”
This campaign is the continuation of coordinated attacks, hateful comments and defamatory statements, which started a year ago on social media against professor Turcilo, led by several media outlets and journalist Alena Lena Demirović. Lejla Turcilo is the head of the Department of Journalism and Communication at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo, a media analyst and a member of BH Journalists. She reported an intensification of the hateful comments in the recent weeks, which was strongly condemned in a statement by the journalists’ association.
“This is one of the proven violent ways to stop critical voices within the media and academic community of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the statement said.
Two days later, General Secretary Borka Rudic was also targeted by the same internet portals accusing her of nationalism and of being supportive of war criminals. Both women were labeled as insulting the Prophet Muhammad and stifling independent journalism. A complaint was filed to the police.
BHN President Marko Divkovic said that the attacks on professor Turcilo and on representatives of the BH Journalists’ Association “represent a brutal online violence and a violation of the right to freedom of expression and public action.”