Activities of right-wing extremists have dropped in the first three months of this year, according to a report by the Czech intelligence service, or BIS, released on Thursday. While the decrease is attributed to the ban of the far-right Workers’ Party, authorities says better police work has also curbed extremism-related crime.
Around 100 members of the far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice, which evolved from the banned Workers’ Party, gathered at Prague’s náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad square on Saturday. They dispersed after half an hour after organisers abandoned the idea of going on a march. Meanwhile, an estimated 200 anarchists congregated in the downtown area before moving on to one of the islands on the River Vltava. Police said they had withdrawn extra officers that had been drafted in when the gatherings, which they had assessed as potential flashpoints, passed off peacefully.
The number of people charged with extremist activities in the Czech Republic was 50 percent higher 2009 than in the previous year, according to a report Interior Minister Martin Pecina presented to the government on Monday. However, the number of recorded extremist crimes fell by about a fifth last year in comparison with 2008. Some 256 extremist crimes were recorded in 2009, representing 0.07 percent of all crimes dealt with by the Czech police. Most of those charged were aged between 21 and 39. The report found that more secondary school and third level graduates had faced charges, though it said the increase could not be regarded as a trend.
Plzeň police are prosecuting a group of three men, who were seen giving the Hitler salute at a bar late on Saturday night. The three men, aged 29, 40 and 44, were shouting Neo-Nazi slogans propagating the suppression of human rights, which is considered an illegal act in the Czech Republic. One of the three verbally attacked a woman who was in the bar, and later punched her in the ear. It is not clear yet if the three perpetrators were participants in a far-right extremist march that took place in Plzeň earlier on Saturday. Local police arrested a total of six participants, who were wearing clothing with illegal imagery and slogans.
The winner of the Miss Roma Czech Republic 2010 contest, which took place on Saturday evening, is the student Pavlína Lendelová. The 17-year-old student from North Bohemia competed against twelve finalists, including her own sister, in disciplines such as folk dancing. She received numerous prizes, including a one-week-vacation at a Czech spa. This year, 65 girls of Romany origin participated in the Miss Roma Czech Republic contest.
The mayor of Plzeň’s third district ordered that a march of far-right radicals be broken up, only a few minutes after it started on Saturday afternoon. He said the gathering was against the law because some participants were wearing clothing that exhibited imagery and slogans which may be illegal and propagate the suppression of human rights. Some 200 right-wing extremists attended the march, which they said was a show of support to imprisoned members of the movement. A group of roughly fifty anarchists protested the far-right radicals’ gathering. Hundreds of police officers were on duty.
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.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
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