Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico shot in assassination attempt: How do we address the aftermath?

Qamar Zafar, UK

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was critically injured in an assassination attempt on Wednesday, 15 May 2024, at a political event in Handlova. The 59-year-old leader was shot multiple times and is currently in a stable but serious condition after undergoing five hours of surgery.

Who is the assailant?

The incident has universally been condemned as an act of violence and instability. According to The Times, Juraj Cintula, a 71-year-old Slokav poet and former supermarket security guard, is the man suspected of shooting the Prime Minister. Matus Sutaj Estok, the interior minister, has said that the authorities suspect that the attack is politically motivated. 

Who is Robert Fico?

Robert Fico, a polarising figure in Slovakian politics, has recently faced significant opposition over his controversial policies. His government’s proposal to abolish Slovakia’s public broadcaster and replace it with a more compliant institution has led to mass demonstrations. Fico’s criminal justice reforms, including the abolition of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, have also sparked widespread protests. Despite the political turmoil, these protests had remained peaceful until this unprecedented attack. 

Slovakia’s ruling coalition has blamed the media and opposition for creating a climate of hatred that led to the attack.

Prime Minister Robert Fico has been known for his hard-line stance on immigration and Islam. He has repeatedly stated that “Islam has no place in Slovakia” and has opposed the acceptance of Muslim migrants into the country. Fico has associated refugees and Muslims with terrorism, claiming that “thousands of terrorists and Islamic State fighters are entering Europe with migrants.” His government has implemented stringent measures to limit the presence and influence of Islam in Slovakia.

In May 2016, Fico declared that Slovakia would not accept “one single Muslim” migrant and later that year, his government passed legislation making it significantly harder for religious movements, including Islam, to gain official status. The law increased the required number of adherents for state recognition from 20,000 to 50,000, a move widely seen as targeting the Muslim community, which numbers around 5,000 in Slovakia.

How do we move forward?

This incident underscores the dangers of heated political rhetoric. Leaders on both sides of the political spectrum must reflect on their rhetoric and consider its impact on society. The alleged assailant, Juraj Cintula, demonstrates that extremism can emerge from any background and does not have a specific skin colour or religion. Political leaders have a stage and a voice, and with that comes the responsibility to use it wisely. It is essential not to pit one group against another for political gain.

From an Islamic perspective, such acts of violence, particularly attempts on the lives of political leaders, are prohibited. Islam emphasises the sanctity of human life and condemns murder and violence. The Holy Quran states, “whosoever killed a person — unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land — it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and whoso gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, Ch.5: V.33).

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has frequently spoken on the importance of responsible rhetoric and the dangers of divisive politics. In his address titled “Islam and Europe: A Clash of Civilisations?” delivered in Berlin in 2019, he said:

“In the world today, particularly in Western and developed nations, there is a great deal of heated debate about immigration and its effect on societies. Much of the debate centres around Muslims. Certain governments and members of the public fear a clash of civilisations and believe that Muslims are a threat to their society and cannot integrate into the Western world. … The hateful ideology of the tiny minority of so-called Muslims who have adopted extremism bears no correlation with the teachings of the Holy Quran. Indeed, I have said many times that governments and the relevant authorities should deal very firmly with extremists, be they Muslims or non-Muslims.” (“Islam and Europe – A Clash of Civilisations?”,

He further emphasised the importance of promoting unity and mutual respect:

“Instead of fanning flames of hatred, whether based on religious or ethnic differences or for political objectives, we must recognise the warning signs and change our ways before it is too late. Let us all, irrespective of our differences, join together and work with a spirit of mutual respect, tolerance, and affection for the peace of the world and to promote freedom of belief.” (Ibid.)

This incident reminds us that responsible and respectful discourse is crucial in maintaining a peaceful and inclusive society. Political leaders must use their platforms to foster unity and understanding, rather than sow division and discord.

No posts to display