Today in Mailbox: the Czech team's qualification for Euro 2008, author Milan Kundera, plans by a neo-Nazi group to march through Prague's historic Jewish Quarter, response to an interview with Czech-Japanese businessman Tomio Okamura, and the proposed US radar base to be built in the Czech Republic. Listeners quoted: Ted Schuerzinger, Tom Lane, Jana Zimmer, Hanka Stibingerova, Lynda-Marie Hauptman.
1,400 police came out in force in Prague’s historic Jewish quarter as
well as other parts of Prague on Saturday, a day when right-wing radicals
said they would go ahead with a march officially banned by the city.
November 10th marks the anniversary of the Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht,
targeted Jews in Germany in 1938. Prague City Hall made clear from the
start it would break up any unauthorised demonstration. In the end,
neo-Nazi extremists did not gather in the numbers expected; nor did any
tried to break through where police were stationed.
In a televised press conference early Saturday evening, Prague Mayor Pavel
Bem said that the police had done an exemplary job in preventing the march
from going ahead. He also stressed that incidents of violence in areas of
Prague throughout the day had been isolated, and that if it stopped at
he would “be happy”.
According to the mayor, around 1,000 anarchists descended on Prague on Saturday, along with between 300-400 right-wing extremists.
Czech far-right extremists insist on marching through Prague's Jewish
quarter on Saturday, the anniversary of the Nazi pogrom of 1938 known as
Kristallnacht, despite the official ban. Earlier on Thursday, Prague City
Court refused to lift the ban issued by Prague Town Hall. The Jewish
Liberal Union has already reserved the venue for its own event to pay
tribute to the victims of the pogrom and to prevent the neo-Nazis from
marching through the Jewish quarter. Prague Town Hall has declared it will
dissolve the extremists march on the spot.
The Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday that the Czech Republic would be cooperating with other countries ahead of any potential unauthorised demonstration. Some 1,400 police officers will be deployed on Saturday to prevent street fights. There have been suggestions that extremists from neighbouring Slovakia and Germany may try to attend the march.
In related news, the Czech government members assured the Jewish community on Thursday that they consider all form of attacks on its members as completely unacceptable. The director of the Jewish Museum in Prague, Leo Pavlat, said the extremists plan to abuse the Kristallnacht anniversary will eventually have a positive effect, showing that civic society and democratic principles function.
Interior minister Ivan Langer announced on Wednesday that the Czech Republic would be cooperating with other countries ahead of an unauthorised demonstration planned by far-right extremists. The Interior Minister was responding to intelligence information, which suggests that extremists from neighbouring Slovakia and Germany are planning to attend the march. The Young National Democrats, a neo-Nazi group, lost a legal battle to march through Prague's Jewish Quarter on November 10, the anniversary of Kristallnacht - a Nazi pogrom which took place in 1938. Over 1,400 police officers will be deployed on Saturday to break-up any unauthorised demonstrations held by far-right campaigners. In a news conference on Wednesday, Mr Langer warned foreign citizens against violating Czech laws, and said that those who came to the country to do so on Saturday should expect 'a tough and uncompromising reaction from Czech security forces'.
Fourteen hundred police officers will be deployed around Prague's Jewish Quarter on Saturday to prevent an unauthorised demonstration planned by far-right extremists. The neo-Nazi group lost a legal battle to hold a march through the Jewish Quarter on November 10, the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht Nazi pogrom. The Jewish Liberal Union have organised a counter-event, while other anti-fascist demonstrators are also expected to turn out. In a statement, Prague Mayor Pavel Bem said the city's authorities had to prepare for the worst possible scenario, including the possible participation of foreign far-right activists.
Saturday is the Sabbath, the day of rest for the Jewish people, but this Saturday looks like being anything but quiet, as dozens, possibly hundreds of far-right extremists from the Czech Republic and abroad are due to descend on Prague's Josefov quarter. They're threatening to march through the former ghetto on the 69th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom against Germany's Jews, running the gauntlet of City Hall bans and a strong police presence.
Quasi-military organisations called the National Guards were established by the far-right National Party on the 28th October, the anniversary of independent Czechoslovakia. The move did not receive much attention in the Czech Republic at first, although Slovakia's President Ivan Gasparovic was quick to warn the Czech authorities of the danger of indifference. Meanwhile, top Czech politicians have condemned the idea of National Guards.
The Supreme Administrative Court on Monday rejected Prague City Hall's complaint against the verdict of the Prague City Court which abrogated the City Hall's ban on a march by right-wing extremists through the Jewish quarter on November 10th. The Supreme Administrative Court agreed with the Prague City Court in that the City Hall had made procedural mistakes in justifying the ban. However it appears that the march will not take place anyway since the City Hall invalidated the request on other grounds. The planned march scheduled for the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom on Jews, sparked a wave of protests both in the Czech Republic and abroad. The City Hall has said it is determined to prevent it taking place.
Police broke up a rock concert attended by around 120 skinheads in a hotel in Nove Hamry, west Bohemia on Saturday night. Over 100 officers intervened when one of the participating bands performed a song with anti-Semitic lyrics; it was a cover version of a song written by a now-banned Slovak far-right group. Two policemen were injured in clashes with the skinheads and six arrests were made.
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