A racist passage from a popular Czech children’s book recently sparked a heated debate in the Czech media after a Romany activist asked for it to be withdrawn from the school curriculum. Thousands of Czechs publicly opposed the request, which was also dismissed as unjustified by some Romany organizations. But others believe the issue of racist undertones in some Czech literary works should be taken seriously.
World Equal Pay Day was marked for the first time in the Czech Republic on Thursday, with successful businesswomen among those attending events to draw attention to the gap in salaries between women and men. Statistics suggest the gender pay gap in this country is around 25% - i.e. on average Czech women earn one quarter less than Czech men. Earlier we spoke to Petr Pavlík, associate professor of gender studies at Charles University, and asked him more about the gender pay gap.
A long running legal battle over an Ostrava pub’s refusal to serve Romany customers has been settled out of court. Bar owner Jiří Ozdinec agreed to pay the three Romanies CZK 20,000 (just over USD 1,000) each, as well as covering their legal costs. Jaroslav Drobek, Roman Dubnický and Soňa Horvátová first launched legal proceedings on the grounds of discrimination nine years ago after staff at Mr Ozdinec’s pub refused to serve them on the grounds they were not members; soon afterwards they did serve customers who also were not members.
At the weekend, two Molotov cocktails (containing a liquid that is yet to be identified by the police) were thrown into the doorway of a block of flats inhabited by Romany families in the north Moravian town of Opava. The incident, which is being investigated as a threat to public safety, comes just a few weeks after a similar attack on a Romany family in Ostrava. Sarah Borufka reports.
Prague’s Libuš district is home to a sprawling Vietnamese market called Sapa and is one of the main centres of the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic. The local town hall has recently complained of growing tension between the Czech and Vietnamese communities in the area, where they say the latter is forming a ghetto. Although the police have noted no significant increase in crime, the district mayor has warned of problems on the horizon.
There is reported to be growing tension between the inhabitants of Prague’s Libuše district and the Vietnamese minority which is centred around the SAPA market place known as Little Hanoi. The economic crisis has left many Vietnamese unemployed and hundreds of them reportedly hang out at the SAPA market place which the locals claim has turned into a ghetto. People living in the market’s immediate vicinity say that they have problems with Vietnamese drug addicts who shoot up in public. According to the CTK news agency the locals are considering setting up community patrols in the area.
There’s been an unexpectedly negative reaction to a proposal by the Education Ministry to offer voluntary classes in Romani – the language of the country’s 300,000 Roma or gypsies – in Czech schools. A Facebook campaign against the proposal has already attracted over 85,000 supporters, although the authorities appear undeterred.
The Green Party has recently brought forward a proposal to change legislation so that gay and lesbian individuals in the Czech Republic who live in a registered partnership would be able to adopt children. The proposal is based on an analysis by the Committee for Sexual Minorities. Within Europe, individual adoption for gays and lesbians in registered partnerships is legal in a number of countries, including Germany, Norway and the UK.
Meanwhile, experts are holding a two-day international conference on alternatives to right-wing extremism in Prague this weekend. The aim of the conference is to get social and environmental movements from Central Europe involved in looking for “Alternatives to right-wing extremism during social and environmental crisis”, as the conference is called. The first day involved a debate on the necessity of international cooperation among anti-fascist movements and their support across the borders of East European countries. The conference will also focus on preparations for the European Social Forum, which will be held in Istanbul on July 1-4.
The town hall in the town of Kladno, west of Prague, has prohibited a public campaign rally of the Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS), which is linked to the recently banned Workers’ Party. According to the town hall, an earlier request had been received from another party to hold a rally at the same place and time. Despite that, Kladno is the fourth municipality in recent days to prevent the party from rallying. Two other towns gave similar reasons as Kladno, while the town of Tábor banned a rally on the grounds that the DSSS is the successor of the extreme right-wing Workers’ Party; the DSSS filed a judicial complaint in that case, and the decision was overturned. On February 17, the Workers’ Party became the first Czech political party to be banned on the grounds of disruption of democratic values for inciting racism, xenophobia and promoting National Socialism.
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