The Croatian MP, Zlatko Hasanbegovic, has had his invitation to attend the posthumous award ceremony for his grandfather Sabrija Prohic rescinded, due to his having been declared persona non grata by the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, over his views toward the Ustasha regime.
Sabrija Prohic, his wife Safeta Prohic, their daughter Esma Prohic, and Sabrija's brother Avdo Prohic were recognised as the Righteous Among the Nations by Israel, and are to be awarded posthumously on May 29 in Sarajevo. They saved a Jewish girl Nada Kolman during WWII, by hiding her in their home after she had lost her entire family in the war.
The Righteous Among the Nations recognises non-Jewish people who worked to save Jews from the Nazi regime during World War II, risking their own lives to do so. It is the highest honour given to non-Jews by the State of Israel.
In a joint statement, the Jewish community in Sarajevo, the non-resident Israeli Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Prohic family, all said that the invitation to Hasanbegovic to attend the ceremony would be withdrawn.
In the statement, signed by the Israeli Ambassador Boaz Rodkin, they said that the representative of the Prohic family, who is to accept the award, considered it necessary that all of Prohic’s descendants should be invited, including his grandson, Hasanbegovic.
Hasanbegovic, member of the right-wing party Independents for Croatia (Neovisni za Hrvatsku), was declared persona non grata in the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina because, they say, he relativises and glorifies the Ustasha regime which is responsible for the slaughter and extermination of Jews during World War II.
The non-resident Israeli Embassy to Bosnia said it regretted that Hasanbegovic “abused the invitation to attend the ceremony celebrating the heroic deed by Mr Sabrija Prohic for his own political purposes.”
When he received the invitation, Hasanbegovic said he was delighted to hear his family would get the recognition it deserved.
“Unfortunately, the Yugoslav communists in 1945 were not interested in people’s destinies in this and other similar cases, and the paradox is that my grandfather was executed without the benefit of trial after WWII,” Hasanbegovic said.