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Zeman refuses to apologise over statements linking Islam to violence

President Miloš Zeman has refused to apologise for statements he made linking “Islamic ideology” and violence, the Czech News Agency reported on Tuesday, quoting his spokesman. The international Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had called on the Czech head of state to retract a statement he made in Israel at the end of last month, when, speaking about an attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels, he said Islamic ideology had motivated similar acts of violence. Mr. Zeman said apologising for quoting from Islamic texts would constitute “blasphemy”.

MPs vote not to lift immunity of colleague suspected of breach of trust in local politics

The Chamber of Deputies has voted not to strip Social Democrat MP Zuzana Kailová of her parliamentary immunity. The police had wished to charge her with breach of trust and abuse of office in connection with a previous function in local politics in Ústí nad Labem. Forty-two of 173 MPs present in the Chamber of Deputies voted to lift her immunity in a vote on Tuesday, while 81 voted against. The police will be able to charge Ms. Kailová once her mandate expires.

Forecasters extend tropical weather warning

Forecasters have extended a tropical weather warning to the whole of Bohemia and the South Moravia region, with temperatures of up to 34 degrees expected in low-lying areas on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute also said that severe storms could hit several parts of the country on Wednesday. Temperature records have been broken at numerous weather stations in recent days and hundreds of people have been treated for heat-related health problems.

Czech Republic would like strong economic portfolio for its next EU commissioner

The Czech Republic would like a strong economic-oriented portfolio for its next EU commissioner, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told newsmen after Monday’s cabinet meeting. The prime minister said five specific portfolios had been discussed, but he would not specify which particular posts the Czech Republic was interested in. The question of finding a suitable candidate for the post has been shelved until it is clear what portfolio the new commissioner will take up. Among the nominees put forward a the Czech Republic’s first EU commissioner Pavel Telička, former finance minister Pavel Mertlík and outgoing MEP Zuzana Roithová. The current Czech commissioner for EU enlargement Štefan Fuele is due to step down in the autumn.

Prague councillors reject plan to demolish Wenceslas Sq. building

Prague councillors have cancelled a controversial decision to demolish a building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalová St. City Hall has returned the matter to the Prague 1 construction authority, which it said was responsible for shortcomings in its original decision to tear down the building. In recent months there had been protests against a plan to demolish the building and replace it with a modern office block.

Zeman backs revival of plans to build “Blob” in Prague

President Miloš Zeman says he is in favour of the revival of a project to construct a controversial modern building nicknamed “the Blob” on Prague’s Letná Plain. The futuristic design of a new National Library building by the late architect Jan Kaplický divided opinion and met resistance from some politicians when it was mooted towards the end of the last decade. Speaking on a visit to Liberec, Mr. Zeman said he would try to intercede on behalf of the project. In recent months there have been fresh suggestions that the Blob could be built in Prague, but possibly not at the originally intended site.

Police investigating death of circus sea lion transported in heat wave

Police are investigating how a circus sea lion died on Monday while being transported between two towns in Moravia. A police spokesperson said there was a suspicion of neglect in connection with the animal’s death, while a representative of the State Veterinary Authority said transporting animals that need to be in water was highly difficult during the kind of hot weather the Czech Republic is currently experiencing. Fire officers saved a second sea lion belonging to the Princ circus when they cooled it down with water and filled its tank, which had been empty.

Prague institutions gearing up for free Museums Night on Saturday

Museums in Prague are gearing up for the annual Museums Night, which takes place on Saturday. Some 69 buildings run by close to 40 institutions are taking part in the event, which gets underway at 19:00 and offers visitors a rare chance to view the venues by night. Special lectures, concerts, theatre and dance performances, film screenings and workshops are also being put on, organisers said on Tuesday. All the institutions will be offering free admission during the Museums Night, which this year is being held for the 11th time.

Organisers promising over 150 performances at United Islands of Prague festival

The organisers of next week’s United Islands of Prague festival say that over 150 musical acts from nearly two dozen countries will perform during the three-day event. Concerts will be free at eight venues from Thursday to Saturday, apart from shows at the city’s Kinsky garden and a performance by hip hop star DJ Shadow at MeetFactory.