A recent dramatic police raid of two Islamic centres in Prague has put the spotlight on the country’s Muslim community. Community leaders have denounced the operation as excessive but the police have charged one man over the distribution of an allegedly xenophobic book. So why did Czech Muslims publish a book by a radical Wahabi author? In this edition of In Focus, we discuss the situation of the Czech Muslim community with Bronislav Ostřanský from the Czech Academy of Sciences. I first asked him about the book, The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Bilal Philips, whose Czech edition was the apparent cause of the police raid. More
The Czech Republic’s Muslim community has complained after police raided the headquarters of Prague’s Islamic Foundation and a mosque on the outskirts of the city during Friday prayers, detaining some 20 people and filing hate crime charges against one man. Muslim community leaders say the operation was over the top – and deny inciting ethnic or religious hatred. More
The Czech priest and academic Tomáš Halík says he will put most of the CZK 36 million he received this week with Templeton Prize into initiatives involved in interfaith dialogue and dialogue between believers and atheists. His involvement in such discourse was one reason that he received the religious award. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Monsignor Halík said he had a concrete project in mind to donate the money to. He will also give some of the monetary award to charity. Previous winners of the Templeton Prize include the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Czech Catholic priest and academic Tomáš Halík has received the Templeton Prize in recognition of his efforts to bridge gaps between atheists and believers and his underground work under communism. The honour, which comes with a large monetary award, has in the past gone to Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, and other internationally renowned spiritual leaders. More
The Czech Roman Catholic priest and professor Tomáš Halík has received the 2014 Templeton Prize, a UK-based award for “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities”. The organisers said Monsignor Halík, who is 65, had risked imprisonment for illegally advancing religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of his country, and had since become a leading international advocate for dialogue among different faiths and non-believers. The Templeton Prize comes with a monetary award of about USD 1.8 million.
The Jewish holiday Chanukah begins on Wednesday evening. To celebrate the eight-day festival of light, the Prague Jewish community is holding a special event on the first evening at the Jerusalem Synagogue, which will include the reciting of blessings and the lighting of the first Chanukah candle by rabbi David Peter. Prague’s Chabad community will be lighting the traditional menorah with human-size candles on Jan Palach square on Sunday.
To mark the four hundred year anniversary of the publishing of the Kralice bible, the first to be published in the Czech language; an exhibition documenting the creation and history of the seminal literary work is taking place at the Prague’s Clementinum at the moment. More
Thousands of people are streaming to the Velehrad pilgrimage site to attend celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia to spread the Christian faith and lay the foundations of literacy with the Glagolitic alphabet. A divine mass at the Velehrad basilica at midday Thursday was attended by high church dignataries, the papal legate, Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb, state dignitaries and foreign diplomats. The Days of People of Goodwill include a number of cultural events, a concert, exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Hundreds of officers are helping to direct traffic to the pilgrimage site.
The Czech Republic is the second most atheist country in the world, according to a new survey tracking international trends in faith. The WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters found that the most ‘convinced atheists’ were in Japan, at 31%, followed by the Czech Republic at 30% and France at 29%. Compared with 2005, the poll recorded a nine-point drop in religiosity worldwide, or amongst the 57 countries surveyed. The greatest change was noted in Vietnam, where the communist government has, in recent years, variably tolerated and harassed different religious groups, and in traditionally Catholic Ireland, where only 47% said they were ‘religious’ - a 22-point drop from the 69% recorded seven years ago. The Czech Republic has long been rated the most non-religious country in Europe, followed by Estonia. Domestic polls from last year put the percentage of people with religious tendencies at roughly 35%.
A town surrounded by deep pine forests, dotted with old timbered German-style villas and occasional Communist-era prefab houses, a town boasting many parks, a river, two churches – and the country’s first Buddhist temple. This is Varnsdorf, a town of 16,000 in the northernmost part of the Czech Republic. More