The Romanies, or Roma, are the Czech Republic’s biggest minority. The relations between Roma and the majority population have long been troubled but recently took a turn for the worse. The community is outraged by the rise in extremist and neo-Nazi movements. For the first time ever, Romany NGOs are organizing a nationwide protest against extremism that will take place on Sunday.
Research conducted by the Czech charity People in Need two years ago suggested that nearly three-quarters of school-age boys in this country had a ‘negative attitude’ towards homosexuality. A recently published European study indicates that that situation is not improving, and that homophobia is still a widespread problem in Czech schools. In light of the findings, the Czech government is producing a teachers’ manual to tackle the problem. Earlier, I spoke to Lucie Otáhalová who is behind the project. I asked her first about the scale of the problem
Former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke will reportedly return to the Czech Republic if his case goes to trial, the Czech media have reported. A Czech associate of Mr Duke’s, linked to the far-right extremist movement, said that he had been in contact with the former Klan leader, saying he was prepared to return to defend himself. David Duke was arrested in Prague last Friday on the suspicion of supporting movements aimed at suppressing human rights. Czech police questioned him for seven hours and recommended he be held in custody; but he was released and ordered to leave the country following a decision by the state prosecutor.
In the Czech Republic an incredibly high number of children – over 20,000 – are living in institutional care. Very often they are from poor families, with an extremely high percentage coming from the country’s Roma minority. This serious and disturbing social issue is the focus of a new art exhibition in Prague.
A Czech Romany NGO, Roma Realia, has asked Pope Benedict XVI to open a debate on the status of Romanies in Europe. In a letter to the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the activists said what they called a growing aversion between Czechs and Romanies might get out of control, while Czech politicians don’t know how to deal with such issues. The activists also criticized the interim PM, Jan Fischer, for his decision to abolish the position of minister for minorities and human rights in the new government.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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