May 9, 2007 / 2:43 PM / 12 years ago

Threats cancel Croat singer's Sarajevo concert

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Organizers have cancelled a May 10 concert in Sarajevo by a Croatian nationalist folk-rock singer after receiving security threats, they said on Wednesday.

Sarajevo authorities, Jewish, anti-fascist and Muslim war veterans associations have all protested against the concert planned for Marko Perkovic Thompson, an icon for Croat nationalists in Croatia and Bosnia.

Organized by a local Catholic charity, the concert was meant to commemorate the 1997 visit to Sarajevo by Pope John Paul II and fund the construction of a dormitory for poor students.

The Croatian Catholic Welfare Association (HKDD) decided to cancel it after some of its members received unidentified security threats by telephone, said its head, priest Anto Jelic.

“More than 11,000 from Bosnia and Croatia wanted to come but we could not undertake moral and security responsibility for them,” Jelic told Reuters by telephone.

“Obviously the climate in Sarajevo is not yet ripe for this concert and I hope we can organize it soon, maybe in autumn.”

Critics have accused Thompson, nicknamed after a U.S-made submachine gun, of flirting with the ideology and iconography of Croatia’s World War Two Nazi-allied Ustashe regime, which killed many Serbs, Jews and Gypsies.

Those opposed to the concert said such performers were not welcome in a city that suffered massive destruction and killings in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Sarajevo canton culture minister Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, an ethnic Muslim, has said the city supported the idea of staging the concert, but not with those spreading “xenophobic messages”.

Thompson, who has sung many times in Bosnian Croat areas, has rejected the accusations as fabrications and provocations.

“I am sorry that a lynch-mob atmosphere has been created in Sarajevo,” he told Croatian daily Vecernji List. “I am and I will be ready for a concert in Sarajevo, all the more so because it is of humanitarian nature.”

Pop, rock and folk acts from Croatia and Serbia have often performed in Bosnia in recent years, but those with nationalist leanings have been only in areas populated by their ethnic kin.

More than 10,000 people were killed during the almost four years of the Serb siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s.

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