The spokesman for the Sparta Prague football club has responded to an open letter sent by the head of the Prague Jewish Community, Frantisek Banyai, and the director of the Prague Jewish Museum, Leo Pavlat expressing concern over some fans' anti-Semitic behaviour at Sparta stadium. According to the senders, anti-Semitic chants could be heard during a Sparta-Arsenal game this week. Some in the audience reportedly yelled the slogan "Jude Slavia" referring to Sparta's city rival, playing on the same day. Sparta's spokesman has made clear the incident will be investigated; he also indicated the club will take a tough stance on anyone guilty of committing racist acts at the club's stadium.
The story of Faust, the doctor who makes a pact with the devil in his pursuit of knowledge, has captured the imagination of some of the great Czech dramatists. In 1985, Vaclav Havel tackled the legend in his play Temptation, or Pokouseni, as it is known in Czech. Just under a decade later, animator Jan Svankmajer tried his hand at the story, producing a grotesque feature-film called Lekce Faust.
Productions of Faust are not hard to come by in Prague. It is a staple of the city's black light theatres, and posters advertising a high-profile production of the play earlier this summer can still be seen all over the town. But, on Wednesday night a production of the play with a difference was premiered. Rosie Johnston has the details:
In Sports News: In the second round of Czech first football division, Slavia and Sparta warm up for Champions League qualifiers, while Teplice's striker Martin Fenin scores another goal and may be leaving to play abroad; no medals for Czechs at the World Cup in canoeing; and Radek Stepanek reaches the semifinals in Montreal.
The singer for the popular Czech Roma band Gipsy.cz, which plays an explosive mixture of hip-hop and traditional Romany music, has taken on a new - for his fans perhaps somewhat surprising - role. This week the minister in charge of human rights, Dzamila Stehlikova, appointed Gipsy.cz's Radoslav "Gipsy" Banga ambassador for minorities as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities.
Police have charged two skinheads with assaulting a public officer. The far-right activists took part in a demonstration in Vlasim, Central Bohemia, on Saturday that was held to draw attention to alleged criminal behaviour of the local Roma community. The skinheads will be prosecuted at liberty, a police spokesperson said on Monday. The demonstration was monitored by the police but the Vlasim town hall was criticized for granting the extreme right activists a permission to march.
The Czech minister for human rights and minorities Dzamila Stehliova has announced that a study of Roma unemployment will be launched in the spring of next year. Czech experts and specialists from the World Bank will participate in the study, which is intended to analyse Roma unemployment in the Czech Republic in comparison with other countries that have Roma minorities. It should also come up with strategic measures and recommendations for improving the situation in areas where Roma unemployment is excessively high.
Around eight hundred right-wing extremists held a demonstration in the central-Bohemian town of Vlasim on Saturday. The radical "National Corporatism" movement organised a so-called "Race Day" in Vlasim to draw attention to what it says is the criminality of the town's Roma inhabitants. Several civic groups have criticised the decision of the town's authorities to permit the demonstration to be staged. The municipality says it had no choice but to allow the event because the organisers had observed all the proper formalities for holding it. Nevertheless, the demonstration was closely monitored by town police and three neo-Nazis were arrested following a clash with people holding a small counter protest.
About 200 skinheads march in Svitavy, some 70 km east of Pardubice, on Saturday in support of Vlastimil Pechanec who was sentenced four years ago to 17 years in prison for a racially motivated murder. In June 2001, Pechanec murdered a local Roma, stabbing him twice in the stomach. The march was already held last year with about 90 skinheads attending. Local Roma initiatives have criticized the Svitavy town hall for giving the organizers permission to march.
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