Slovakia's parliament to honor Andrej Hlinka

Jewish and other groups object to the decision of Slovakia's parliament to honor a controversial pre-World War II leader.

The proposal by the nationalist Slovak National Party to honor Andrej Hlinka for his contribution to the creation of an independent Slovak state was approved in a 94-26 vote. Hlinka was a Catholic priest and leader of the Slovak People's Party before the war.

Various organizations and groups in Slovakia condemned the move.

The Association of Slovakia's Jewish Communities said that "Andrej Hlinka rejected the democratic principles of Czechoslovakia and spoke with admiration about politicians such as Adolf Hitler and (Italy's fascist dictator) Benito Mussolini," according to a statement before the vote.

"The Jewish community in Slovakia considers the name of Andrej Hlinka a symbol of Slovak fascism in the years of 1939-45," it said.

Slovak lawmakers removed some provisions from the bill, including the one that would declare Hlinka "the father of the nation."

The association would not comment Friday because its members did not immediately review the approved version of the document.

Slovakia was a Nazi puppet state during World War II. It sent over 70,000 of its Jews to Nazi concentration camps, where most of them perished.

Hlinka has been criticized for anti-Semitic and nationalistic views. During the 1930s, he spoke in favor of broad Slovak autonomy within Czechoslovakia. He died on Aug. 16, 1938 before the war began.

After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova