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Three-finger salute (Serbian)

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File:Tri prsta3.jpg
Three-finger salute on 2008 Kosovo is Serbia rally in Belgrade

The three-finger salute (Serbian: три прста/tri prsta, "three fingers"), commonly known as the Serb salute, is a salute which originally expressed Serbian Orthodoxy, that today simply is an expression, a gesture, for ethnic Serbs and Serbia, made by extending the thumb, index, and middle fingers of one or both hands.

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—Political scientist Anamaria Dutceac Segeste, 2011


Orthodox symbolism

  • The Serbs, when swearing Oath, historically used the three fingers (collected, as when crossing) along with the greetings "My Holy Trinity" (Svetog mi Trojstva) or "for the Honorable Cross and Golden Freedom" (za krst časni i slobodu zlatnu) during formal and religious events.[2] The salute was often made with both hands, raised above the head.[2] Karađorđe was appointed leader of the Serbian rebels after they all raised their "three fingers in the air" and thereby swore Oath.[3] Paja Jovanović's painting, Takovo Uprising (1898), depicts Miloš Obrenović holding a war flag and saluting with three fingers.[2] Serbian Metropolitan Nikolaj Velimirović (1881–1956) called for a Serbian salute in which three fingers were to be raised along the greeting: "Thus Help Us God!".[4] In Serbian and Orthodox tradition, the number three is exceptionally important.[2] A Serbian saying goes "There is no cross without three fingers" (Nema krsta bez tri prsta).[5]

Modern form

  • The first popularized use of the three-finger salute (with fingers separated) was in 1988, when Serbs from Srem, Banat and Kosovo used it to counter the Albanian, Croat and Slovenian use of the V sign, during that time's political events. Historian Dragan Petrović stresses that Vuk Drašković was not the "author" of the salute, but that greater credit belongs to Mirko Jović and Jovan Rašković.[2]


The salute is used by members and supporters of almost all Serbian political parties on their rallies during election campaigns. It can be seen at all kinds of street demonstrations and celebrations.

File:Sasha Pavlović.jpg
NBA basketball player Sasha Pavlović displaying the three-finger salute

The salute is often used by sport fans and players when celebrating sport victories. After winning the 1995 European basketball championship, the entire then-Yugoslav team displayed the three fingers. Sasha Djordjevic says he flashed the three fingers "not to be provocative. Just: that's Serbia, that's us, that's me – nothing else. It's my pride."[9] More recently, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has shown the three-finger salute often after his victories.

During the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, President of Serbia Boris Tadić and Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić saluted the Serbian Olympic Team with three fingers.


Some Albanians, Bosniaks, and Croats find the salute provocative and offensive due to perceived irredentist symbolism.

When Russian peacekeeping troops entered Sarajevo in 1994, they used the salute when greeting the Serb troops.[10] Because of this, they were branded pro-Serb; the UNPROFOR used the Serb salute when greeting the Serbs, and the V sign when greeting the Bosniaks, showing impartiality.[11] There were instances when non-Serb captives were forced to use the salute.[12]

2007 Eurovision winner Marija Šerifović used the salute when celebrating points; controversially, she used the salute when receiving the maximum of 12 points from Bosnian viewers, after which Bosnian media reported it as being used as a direct provocation.[13][dead link][14] The Swedish-Serbian National Association called it ridiculous, saying that the salute is not to be mistaken in that way, but viewed of as nothing more than a modified V sign.[15]

Rade Leskovac, president of a Serb minority party in Croatia, caused controversy in 2007 when election posters featuring him with the salute were posted around Vukovar.[16]

According to political scientist Anamaria Dutceac Segeste, the significance of the salute is diverse: although it has been used by nationalists, it cannot be monopolized as such; it has been used without aggressive nationalist connotations, i.e. at sport events, by opponents of Milošević, by Boris Tadić during the 2008 Summer Olympics, etc.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (16 September 2011). Myth, Identity, and Conflict: A Comparative Analysis of Romanian and Serbian Textbooks. Lexington Books. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-0-7391-4867-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e A. Palić (2013-12-07). "Prkos raširio tri prsta". Novosti. 
  3. ^ M. Đ Milićević (1876). Knez̆evina Srbija 1. Sloboda. p. 251. 
  4. ^ Радмила Радић (2006). Живот у временима: Гаврило Дожић 1881-1950. Институт за новију историју Србије. p. 178. ISBN 978-86-7005-047-1. Тако нам Бог помогао! 
  5. ^ Vladimir Ćorović (1921). Pokreti i dela. Izdavačka knjižarnica Gece Kona. p. 9. 
  6. ^ "Tri prsta za pobedu" (in Serbian). Večernje novosti. 2007-11-17. 
  7. ^ Tri Srbije?. B92 Editorial. 10 October 2002.
  8. ^ "- Lepo ste se toga setili! Podignuta tri prsta jesu simbol koji je u masovnu upotrebu uveo Vuk Drašković na mitingu u Beogradu 13. marta 1991. godine. Tada je SPO imala tri zahteva, a jedan od njih je bio da se puste svi pohapšeni 9. marta. To je bio naš simbol borbe za promene, a iako je trebalo dosta vremena da se taj simbol prihvati, očigledno je da je uspelo. I kada ga danas koriste radikali, nemam ništa protiv – kaže Srećković.. Three fingers are a symbol that was introduced by Vuk Drašković during demonstrations in Belgrade on 13 March 1991. Serbian Renewal Movement had three demands, and one of them was to release all people arrested for 9 March. That was our symbol of fight for change, although it took a lot of time for that symbol to be adopted it is clearly now adopted. I don't mind Serbian Radicals using it today" – says Srećković. [1] from Kurir
  9. ^ Prisoners of War by Sports Illustrated
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ United States. Congress. House. Committee on National Security (1 January 1997). United States Policy Toward the Former Yugoslavia: Hearings Jeld June 7, 1995, July 11, 1995, October 17, 18, 1995, November 2, 8, 15, 30, 1995, December 6, 1995 and September 25, 1995. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-16-054094-3. 
  12. ^ Michigan Law Review 96 (7-8). University of Michigan, Department of Law. 1998. p. 2049. 
  13. ^ Tajni znakovi Eurosonga: Kome je Marija podigla tri prsta?
  14. ^ Georg Cederskog. "Schlagertävlingen hotar bli politiserad", Dagens Nyheter 13 May 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  15. ^ Serbernas riksförbund i Sverige et al. "'Missförstå inte våra serbiska tre fingrar'", Aftonbladet, 17 May 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Nepoželjna "tri prsta" u hrvatskoj izbornoj kampanji" (in Serbian). RTS. 2007-11-16.