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Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric President of the Czech Republic Milosh Zeman.

Czech President Miloš Zeman strongly condemned the organizers and participants of anti-Roma statements in August 2013, identifying them with “neo-Nazi militants”. According to him the country has intensified “white mafia”, whose members deliberately increase the rent in homes where Roma live in order to force the state of demand for housing. Poverty and poor living conditions of Roma in comparison with the Czechs according to the president can be solved only by “investing in the creation of new jobs”. “When I hear the slogan “Czech Republic for Czechs!”, I always think of another slogan, distributed in Nazi Germany, “Jews – be gone!” “- he said . Nevertheless, only the Green Party clearly condemned anti-Roma statements, as well as the newly established Democratic Party of the Roma people. Its chairman Miroslav Tancoš, speaking in August, said that “mayors have the primary responsibility for the escalation of the situation”. He said that the mayors have enough information to show people the positive aspects of Roma life, but “they are infected with prejudice”. Chairman of the Green Party Ondřej Liška has urged the government to take immediate measures for Roma integration.

On November 17th 2013 representatives of the opposing Czech Social Democratic Party Senator Jiří Dienstbier, the Minister of Justice in the shadow government, and Michaela Marksová-Tominová, the shadow Minister for Labour and Social Affairs in the same party supported the anti-Nazi demonstration of the organization “United against Racism” in Prague. M. Marx-Tominova stated that “anti-social policy right-wing governments always promote the growth of racism and xenophobia” and expressed the need for anti-racism initiatives by the government.

On May 28, President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman made a speech at the Embassy of Israel, where he sharply condemned the “disgusting attack” on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 25. I am not comforted by statements that these are just small marginal groups. On the contrary, I think that this xenophobia and racism or anti-Semitism takes its roots in the ideology professed by these fanatic groups,” Zelman stated at the reception in honour of 66 years of Israel independence. President then quoted a verse from the Koran, which calls for the murder of Jews. “I have never heard of any movements that call for mass murder of Arabs, but I do know of an anti-civilised movement called for mass murder of Jews».

On June 10, Press Secretary of Prague City Administration Jiri Ovcacec reported that President does not intend to apologise for this statement, as he considers apologising for citing an Islamic holy book blasphemy.

On July 17, Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier after a meeting with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that amendments to the law expanding Ombudsman’s rights will be adopted before the end of July, to help counter discrimination. Ombudsman will receive the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court, among other things. However, the decision was not implemented as of yet.

Minister of Culture Daniel German spoke at the former internee camp in Pisek. He said that the genocide of Roma in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia cannot be written off entirely on Nazi atrocities. In particular, Minister noted the danger of neo-Nazi manifestations. “We cannot simply dismiss these concerns, talking about them as things of the past. In 1928, Adolf Hitler’s party had only 2 seats in parliament. 5 years later, the situation changed. There can be no tolerance of racism, hatred and xenophobia.”

Politicians reacted to the anti-Roma statements of T. Okamura, who said that the Roma camp in Lety was not a concentration camp, but a labour camp for Roma who were unwilling to work.

President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman said, “If it was a labour camp, its prisoners would not have ended up in Auschwitz.” Minister of the Interior, Social Democrat Milan Chovanec found Okamura’s words “a small political figure attempting to attract media attention at any cost”. Minister of Human Rights Jiri Dinstibir felt that after such statements Okamura must abandon all his political posts, or at least apologise. Former Minister of Finance called Okamura’s words “criminal”.

On August 6, it was reported that a prominent anti-communist activist Simon Heller intends to initiate criminal proceedings against Tomio Okamura.

On August 27, Czech ombudsman Anna Shabatova said that Czech schools and universities have no right to prohibit Muslim students from wearing hijabs that covers hair, neck and breasts.

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