A rise in political extremism in the Czech Republic has been at the centre of media attention in recent weeks, and the past weekend was no exception. In the wake of the biggest ever police operation against the country’s ultra-right groups, far-right radicals took to the streets in a number of towns and cities to protest against the arrest of ten neo-Nazis.
Far-right radicals took to the streets in a number of Czech towns over the
weekend to protest against this week’s crack-down on ultra-right groups.
In the town of Most, north of Prague, police dispersed a gathering of
far-right extremists that was not approved by the town hall, detaining 14
people in the process, among them the deputy leader of the Workers Party
Petr Kotab. In Zlín, south Moravia, an extremist march provoked a series
of skirmishes with anarchists. There too police detained several people.
Smaller gatherings also took place in the towns of Havlíčkův Brod,
Mladá Boleslav and Jablonec nad Nisou. Expecting trouble police were out
in force to secure law and order.
On Tuesday, special police units conducted raids on far-right radicals around the country, in what has been described as the biggest anti-extremist operation ever undertaken. Ten people, all members of the National Resistance group, were detained and later charged with promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. If found guilty, they face up to eight years in prison.
Speaking at the commemorative ceremony in Lidice, President Vaclav Klaus expressed concern over growing extremism in the Czech Republic and said the authorities should take a much tougher line against its representatives. He said the country’s legislation afforded the means to do so but that some ministers and mayors were unnecessarily cautious in employing those means. Last week the police conducted the biggest ever anti-extremist operation in the country, arresting and charging ten far-right radicals in the process. The interior ministry has promised to provide towns and municipalities with a manual on how to fight various forms of extremism more effectively.
The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of a man who has accused the Office of the Government of age discrimination. The man claims that he and five other employees over 50 had been sacked on the grounds of a planned re-organization under which their posts were to have been scrapped, but a few months later these positions were all filled by young people under 28 years of age. Several court verdicts went in favour of the Office of the Government until the man filed a complaint with the Constitutional court, which overturned the earlier verdicts in a ruling that is seen as an important precedent. The case will now go back to a lower court to be reviewed.
The families of Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Interior Minister Martin Pecina have been given police protection in the wake of the biggest-ever operation against far-right extremists. Deputy police chief Jiří Houba described the move as a preventative measure made in view of an expected radicalization of far-right groups following a series of raids against far-right radicals around the country. Ten people have been charged with “promoting a movement aimed at suppressing rights and freedoms”. They are all members of the National Resistance movement, one of the two biggest ultra-right groups in the Czech Republic. Prime Minister Fischer has said that he considers the fight against growing extremism a top priority.
The Romany language is dying out in the Czech Republic, but not as rapidly as some had feared, suggests a survey conducted by linguists at Prague’s Charles University. The results of the first study of its kind in this country suggest that around 30 percent of the Czech Republic’s Roma minority are fluent Romani speakers. Earlier today, I met one of the survey’s authors, Helena Sadílková, and asked her first whether the Romani spoken in the Czech Republic varied from that spoken elsewhere in Europe:
Academics from Charles University’s Faculty of Arts have found that only one in three Roma under the age of 18 are sufficiently fluent in the Romani to pass the language on to later generations. The study found that roughly the same number have a passive understanding of the language. The head of the research team, Jan Červenka, said even worse results had been expected due to the heavy language assimilation of recent decades. On the whole, roughly half of the Czech Republic’s Roma population is fluent in the Romani language.
Political extremism, especially on the far right, has been a big issue in the Czech Republic over the last six months, with a strong perception that it is on the rise. It may have been a coincidence, but on Tuesday the subject was all over the news for a variety of reasons. Police arrested a number of neo-Nazis and announced the setting up of new riot squads, while many of the country’s political leaders signed a declaration condemning extremism.
Police said Sunday that they detained two men suspected of committing crime during a extreme right-wing demonstration in the south-eastern town of Jihlava on Saturday. One man was suspected of actions damaging individual rights and liberties, the other of abusing national, ethnic or racial groups. The event - attended by around 150 right-wing extremists - was billed as a march in memory of victims of WWII. It was banned by a town official soon after it started. The official said monitoring of the event and feedback from experts on extremism and the police showed it had a different character than that originally claimed. Czech town halls have faced problems in the past banning neo-Nazi marches, sometimes stemming from their own inability to follow the correct procedures.
An official from the south-eastern city of Jihlava banned an extremist right-wing demonstration soon after started on Saturday. The event - attended by around 150 right-wing extremists - was billed as a march in memory of victims of WWII. Monitoring of the event by the police and extremism as well as reports about it on the Internet convinced the official it had a different character. Experts said invitations to the event used slogans which echoed those of the Nazi SS and reports said it was attended by a known Austrian neo-Nazis and SS veteran. Around 250 people had gathered to protest the march. Czech town halls have faced problems in the past banning neo-Nazi marches, sometimes stemming from their own inability to follow the correct procedures.
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