July 14, 2011
Thousands of Croatian citizens are arguing over a mayor’s plans to erect the world’s largest Jesus statue on a mountaintop of a small coastal town in Croatia called Split. The statue would reach 129 feet (39 meters), ten feet taller than the current largest statue of Jesus in Poland, at the top of Marjan Hill, a backdrop to the Adriatic town. Mayor Zeljko Kerum announced the plans to create “a tourist attraction, a new shrine…” last week, saying the projects would be funded entirely by donations. But on Monday, a Facebook page titled “Kerum, in Jesus’ name, don’t build Jesus” received over 4,000 “likes” from the country’s mostly Catholic citizens. Some accused the mayor of attempting to garner support for his upcoming election, and others said such monies would be better spent on civic improvements. Some even said he was trying to redeem himself for personal sins. Even so, a report by Canada.com said two other Facebook pages supporting the initiative had gathered dozens of “likes.” The Manila Bulletin reported that Kerum has a history of eccentric behavior, known for speeding around town in his sports car and for his distaste for the Serbs, his country’s neighbors. He also was criticized for failing to properly intervene in an attack on a gay-pride parade in the city’s promenade last month. Croatia is a former Yugoslav republic on the Adriatic Sea with a population of about 4.5 million.