IAs a result of two gun attacks that killed 17, tens of thousands of people blocked a highway in Belgrade on Friday. The demonstrators demanded an end to the glorification of violence in the media and the resignation of high-ranking politicians, including the interior minister and the head of the secret service. It was the second major demonstration against violence this week after two deadly attacks shook the Balkan country in just 48 hours.
Several opposition parties from the left and the right camp had called for the protest. “I felt the need to come here because of my children and because I want to live in a non-violent Serbia,” 48-year-old Zdravko Jankovic told AFP.
The organizers called for the licenses of TV channels that broadcast violent content to be revoked and for a ban on pro-government newspapers, which they say are fueling tensions among the population. They demanded that the government’s reaction to the gun violence should also be discussed in a special session of parliament.
Representatives of President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party denounced the protests as “politicizing” the bloody attacks aimed at attacking Vucic. The president himself had announced a large-scale “disarmament campaign” after the deadly attacks.
In the first of the two gun attacks, a student in a Belgrade school shot dead eight children and a security guard with his father’s gun. Less than 48 hours later, a 21-year-old killed eight people in several villages near Belgrade. Education Minister Branko Ruzic then resigned on Sunday.
According to government information, more than 760,000 firearms are registered in the country of 6.8 million people. According to the Small Arms Survey (SAS) research project, 39 percent of the population owns a gun – in no other European country is the proportion so high.