BELGRADE, Serbia – French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy said Thursday after left-wing activists threw a pie in his face in Serbia that the incident illustrates the Balkan country is far from having democracy.
Levy, a philosopher known for his criticism of Serbian nationalist policies during the 1990s Balkan wars, was in Belgrade for the showing of his documentary film about the Kurds fighting the Islamic State group.
A young man chanting “Murderer, leave Belgrade” hurled a pie at his face while he was presenting his film, “Peshmerga,” on Wednesday. Another man climbed the stage with a banner bearing a communist hammer and sickle that read, “Bernard Levy advocates imperialist murders.”
Levy reacted by shouting “Long live democracy” in French.
Serbian nationalists perceive Levy as one of the main advocates of the NATO bombing in 1999 over the country’s crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists.
“He deserved much worse than a cake in his face,” Serbian ultranationalist official Vojislav Seselj said in parliament on Thursday.
Organizers of the documentary festival apologized to Levy on Thursday, giving him a cake as a present during an appearance that saw tough security in the hall.
Levy said “this incident illustrates what democrats face” in Serbia.
“You have a mixture of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban who strive for Europe, but do not accept European values,” Levy said in an apparent reference to the autocratic rule of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who soon is to be inaugurated as president.
The French-Jewish intellectual has a history of being the target of pie-wielding critics.
Noel Godin, a Belgian actor and author who has made a career out of throwing pies at celebrities, has pied Levy at least seven times since 1985, the last time in 2015.