Opponents and defenders of refugees held rival demonstrations in the centre of Prague on Saturday afternoon. Around a thousand anti-immigration protestors led by populist MP Tomio Okamura gathered in front of the National Museum, some waving Czech flags and carrying anti-Islamic signs. Around 400 anti-xenophobia demonstrators gathered a little lower on Wenceslas Square by the statute of Saint Wenceslas. Some of the latter whistled while Mr. Okamura was speaking and there were verbal clashes between the two groups.
The governor of the Olomouc region, who has been charged with bribery, has refused to step down despite pressure from the head of his Social Democratic Party, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr. Sobotka made the comments after a meeting with Jiří Rozbořil on Friday evening. Mr. Rozbořil’s decision to remain in the post has been backed by the Social Democrats’ regional committee. As indicted individuals cannot stand under party rules, he will not be able to head the Social Democrats’ ticket in next year’s regional elections. Mr. Rozbořil was arrested as part of an anti-corruption operation that has also involved senior police officers.
Over 25,000 Roman Catholics took part in a mass in central Brno on Saturday. The service on the city’s Zelný trh was the culmination of the first National Eucharistic Congress held in the Czech Republic. Over 500 priests were among those in attendance at the mass, which was performed by such figures as Prague’s Archbishop Dominik Duka, Archbishop Jan Graubner from Olomouc and the papal nuncio Giuseppe Leanza. Eucharistic congresses are common in states with large Catholic communities and are held every four years.
ANO chief Andrej Babiš says the Christian Democrats’ Jan Bartošek based a gambling bill he put forward on a document produced by a gambling lobby group. Mr. Babiš posted the two texts – which are almost identical in content – on his blog on Friday evening. Earlier in the week Mr. Bartošek strongly denied cooperating with gambling lobby group APKURS and demanded an apology from Mr. Babiš after he made a similar accusation. A representative of APKURS said the text posted online by the ANO leader was of a lower quality than its materials.
Three pedestrians were seriously injured after being hit by trams in three different parts of Prague on Friday evening and night. A 32-year-old man was hit by the Biskupcova tram stop in Žižkov, a man of 27 was hit near the Invalidovna stop in Karlín and a 46-year old woman was hit at the Slavia stop in Vršovice, the spokesperson for the city’s rescue services, Jiřina Ernestová, told the Czech News Agency. She said people needed to be aware that trams had right of way over pedestrians.
Preparations are being completed for a conference in Prague later this month focused on journalist Karel Weirich, who was a correspondent of the Czech New Agency in the Vatican and Italy and saved the lives of 200 Czechoslovak Jews during WWII. The conference takes place on October 26, two days before Weirich is set to receive the state honour the Order of the White Lion in memoriam. A recently published book has brought attention to the reporter, who was himself imprisoned for his activities helping Czechoslovak Jews interned in Italy.
Events are being held in the Czech Republic on Saturday to mark the annual International Archaeology Day. Lectures, guided tours, exhibitions and workshops are taking place. People can for instance try elements of an archaeological dig for themselves at a Charles University building on Prague’s Celetná St., while the Náprstek Museum will present the results of Czech digs abroad. Last year around 3,000 people of all ages turned out for a similar programme.