A visit to the Czech Republic by David Duke - former leader of the white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan – set off alarm bells last Friday among human rights organisations. Mr Duke had been set to give a number of lectures at undisclosed locations in the country at the behest of right-wing extremists. But in the end, he didn’t stay on Czech soil for long. On Friday, shortly after his arrival he was arrested, questioned by the police, and then ordered to leave the country.
Around 70 neo-Nazis demonstrated in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague on Sunday against the expulsion of a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan from the Czech Republic. David Duke was arrested and handed an expulsion order by Czech police shortly after arriving in the Czech capital on Friday for denying the Holocaust in his book My Awakening. Speakers at Sunday’s protest said Mr Duke had not himself denied the Holocaust, but asserted the right of others to do so. The demonstration was organised by Filip Vávra of the neo-Nazi group Národní odpor (National Resistance), who brought the former KKK head to the Czech Republic.
The minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, says he would like to invite former president Václav Havel and the Czech Republic’s chief rabbi Karol Sidon to join a team to discuss solutions to the problem of far-right extremism in the country. On a TV discussion programme, Mr Kocáb said a group should be created to address the subject made up of leading sociologists, theologians, lawyers and political scientists. Prior to being replaced by a caretaker government on May 8, the current cabinet is due to deliver a new strategy to combat extremism. The move follows a number of far-right demonstrations and the attack in Vítkov.
A former leader of the American white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan has been expelled from the Czech Republic. David Duke was arrested by Czech police shortly after arriving in Prague on Friday for denying the Holocaust in his book My Awakening. He was ordered to leave the country by midnight on Saturday. Mr Duke was brought to the Czech Republic by a member of the neo-Nazi group Národní odpor (National Resistance) and had been due to deliver lectures in Prague and Brno. Following his release from custody in the early hours of Saturday morning, a lawyer for the KKK man said she would file a complaint against the police, who she said had not followed correct procedure in the case.
The minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says Romanies have an important role to play in the fight against far-right extremism in the Czech Republic. Speaking in the newspaper Právo, Mr Langer said a new strategy to combat extremism to be unveiled by the prime minister would emphasise the responsibility of every citizen in dealing with the problem. Having been the victims of extremism recently, Romanies should realise they have a key role in fighting it, the minister said. The subject of far-right extremists has been in the news a lot lately following neo-Nazi demonstrations and a petrol bomb attack on a Roma family’s home that left a two-year-old girl fighting for her life.
A march by the Workers’ Party in Krupka, north Bohemia on Saturday afternoon passed off quite peacefully. Police prevented the far-right group from attempting to enter a local apartment complex largely populated by Romanies. Two Romanies were arrested for throwing beer glasses at the far-right demonstrators. The Workers’ Party came to national attention when they fought running battles with police who stopped them from entering a Romany neighbourhood in Litvínov in November. Last month the Supreme Administrative Court turned down a Czech government request to ban the small grouping.
The Czech police arrested former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in Prague after he arrived in the Czech Republic on Friday. The former Klan leader had been invited by far-right extremists and was meant to lecture at an undisclosed location during his visit. Police said they made the arrest on the suspicion the American supported and promoted movements aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. Originally, the former KKK head was to lecture to students taking a course on extremism at Prague’s Charles University but the university banned the move earlier this week. A number of Czech politicians, including the country’s interior minister and the minister for human rights and minorities, had expressed concern over Mr Duke’s visit.
The outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb has announced he will push for the founding of a council of specialists to help tackle extremism in the country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the minister said that the public was underestimating rising extremism and anti-Romany sentiments. According to Mr Kocáb, the council would include politicians, representatives from the Roma community, sociologists, historians, lawyers and others. The aim - he made clear on Friday - was to generate vocal and positive discussion on the issues. Since last year the country has seen a higher number of far-right demonstrations, the latest in Ustí nad Labem last weekend. Saturday also saw an attack against a Romany family which shocked many in the country. Police are investigating whether it was racially-motivated.
The Czech European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Vladimír Špidla has said the current recession is increasing the social exclusion of Romanies throughout the European Union. He made the statement at an EU Presidency meeting focussing on Romany integration on Friday. According to the commissioner, constructive measures to allow new opportunities were needed, stressing the new measures on education, housing, and employment needed to be tailored specifically to the Roma community. The newly-established platform is to focus on the issue of integration; this year, the EU set aside five million euros for the pilot project.
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