A two-year-old girl is in a critical condition in hospital after a petrol bomb was apparently thrown through the window of her family home in Vítkov, north Moravia. The girl is from the Romany or gypsy minority, and police belief the alleged arson attack could have been racially-motivated. So far politicians have been united in their condemnation, and the cabinet is due to discuss racist violence at its meeting on Monday.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has expressed deep concern over growing extremism in the country, saying that steps to deal with the problem will be discussed by the government on Monday. The prime minister was reacting to events in the Czech Republic at the weekend, from extremist demonstrations in Ústí nad Labem and Krupka, to a vicious attack against a Romany family on Saturday. The prime minister said he believed there was a connection between the political engagement of radicals and violence against individuals, making clear the problem will need to be dealt with head on.
President Václav Klaus has condemned an attack against a Romany family in Vítkov in the Opava region, calling it a “brutal” and heinous act”. Members of the family – including a two-year-old child - suffered serious injuries on Saturday when unknown perpetrators used petrol bombs to set their home alight. The Molotov cocktails caused an extensive fire: the family’s two-year-old daughter suffered severe burns to more than 80 percent of her body. She remains in hospital in critical condition. Details on the police investigation have not yet been revealed and it is unknown whether the attack was racially-motivated.
On Saturday, 300 neo-Nazis marched in the town of Ústí nad Labem, north Bohemia; although there were no incidents of violence, two leftist radicals were detained. Around 1,000 police officers were out in force well ahead of the march to prevent neo-Nazis and anarchists from clashing. The work by police units was praised on Sunday by the prime minister. Ahead of the march, life in the centre of Ústí nad Labem largely came to a standstill, with shops and restaurants closed. The ultra right-wing organisation behind the demonstration said it was meant to mark the 64th anniversary of the bombing of the city at the end of World War II. But specialists on extremism say the real reason was to mark the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth.
Romany organisations and activists have expressed deep concern over the attack against the Romany family in the Opava region. On Sunday one organisation warned Romanies to be vigilant against “terrorist attacks by Czechs”, a statement backed by a number of Roma groups throughout the country. The various movements also agreed that the Roma community could not rely on what they described as a “failing state apparatus”, saying that arson attacks on the Roma in the Czech Republic were "not isolated". Some monitoring the situation have described conditions as becoming intolerable. On Sunday, the attack was condemned by both the Czech president and the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. The latter made clear the outgoing government’s priority will be to begin tackling the problem of growing extremism when it meets on Monday.
Around 40 members of the far-right Workers’ Party have marched through areas of Krupka near the town of Teplice, waving banners with ultra-nationalistic slogans. They said they had been asked to “monitor” parts of the town by locals. Ahead of the event, police arrested two for disorderly conduct. They also confiscated knives and other weapons and have had to intervene to prevent a clash between members of the extremist party and around 100 members of the Roma community. Among those on site to monitor developments was the outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb. The Workers’ Party has staged similar events before to try and drum up support. Earlier this year, the government moved to have the far-right party banned but was unsuccessful in court.
Residents in Ústí nad Labem have taken precautions ahead of a neo-Nazi march planned for Saturday evening. Earlier in the day, the north Bohemian city was described as almost empty of local inhabitants, with stores, restaurants and bars closed, some boarded up. Some 1,000 officers will monitor the march. Throughout the day, the police checked key areas for items that could be used as potential weapons. Police are also guarding sites such as the city’s railway station. It has been estimated that some 500 right-wing extremists could show up, some of them from neighbouring Germany, while around 100 anarchists could try to clash with them. The Czech far-right group behind the march has said it is marking the 64th anniversary of the bombing of the city in 1945. But observers say the real reason is to mark the upcoming anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler.
Residents in the north Bohemian city of Ústí nad Labem are taking precautions ahead of a planned neo-Nazi march on Saturday. A Czech far-right group inspired by German neo-Nazis is allegedly marking the 64th anniversary of the bombing of the city in 1945, but observers say the real reason is to mark the upcoming anniversary of the birth of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. A spokeswoman for the police on Friday said that some 500 right-wing extremists could attend, some of them from neighbouring Germany. Leftist radicals are also expected to come out in opposition. The police are planning on maintaining a strong presence, with some 1,000 officers. Controls will also be in place in key areas, while local transport will be re-routed during the demonstration.
The northern city of Ústí nad Labem is bracing itself for a march by neo-Nazis on Saturday that has the potential to end in violence. The march is going ahead after the city council exhausted all legal avenues to stop it, and a large police presence is being deployed to prevent trouble from getting out of hand.
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