Thousands Protest Sarajevo Mass Honoring WWII Nazi Collaborators
Several thousand people defied coronavirus-related mass gathering restrictions to lay flowers on a monument to Nazi-regime victims of World War II in central Sarajevo and to march in protest against a controversial church service held in a cathedral nearby. Despite widespread condemnation, the Catholic Churches of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia held the mass on May 16. The Bosnian and Croatian churches organized the event under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, which in 2016 reintroduced state sponsorship of the commemoration after having revoked it in 2012 amid criticism that it was rehabilitating the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime. Twenty people were allowed to attend the heavily-guarded cathedral for the televised service celebrated by Sarajevo Archbishop Vinko Puljic. He insisted that the mass was held to honor all victims of WWII atrocities, saying: "We want to see a halt to double standards in respecting the victims of hatred and massacre." A handful of protesters outside the church chanted "Death to fascism." Both events ended without major incidents.