The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka has stressed the need for interreligious dialogue as a means of diffusing the tension in Europe in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Speaking on a visit to Belgium, the cardinal said dialogue was the way to greater understanding and tolerance but noted that at a time of heightened emotions attempts at such dialogue often failed. He said that some of the public exchanges he had heard at home showed a basic lack of understanding of both Christianity and Islam.
SpecialCzech-Arab center head Shadi Shanaah on Islamic radicalism, Islamophobia and multiculturalism
The terrorist attacks in Paris have put the spotlight on Europe’s Muslim minorities, triggering broad debate on Islamic radicalism, immigration policy and the concept of a multi-cultural Europe. In this special program we’ll take a closer look at the Czech Republic’s small Muslim community, how it is perceived by the majority population and how it has been impacted by the developments in Europe. More
Following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the Czech authorities are not ruling out the possibility of the radicalisation of individual Muslims in this country. However, says the minister of the interior, the Czech Muslim community as a whole is unusual in not having a radical component, having arisen in very different circumstances than the communities in bigger European states. More
The leader of the populist Dawn Party Tomio Okamura has found himself at the centre of a scandal, endorsing a highly questionable text by his deputy on his Facebook page. In it, he suggested Czechs should shun Muslim-owned businesses or should provoke Muslims by walking pigs in the vicinity of mosques. At first, part of the community shrugged off the rhetoric; now though, representatives are considering filing charges for hate speech. More
Czech Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová has stirred heated debate on the Czech political scene by standing up for two students who were banned from wearing headscarves at a medical school in Prague. Politicians across the political spectrum as well as President Miloš Zeman have criticized her move, arguing that foreigners should respect Czech cultural traditions. More
The country’s ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová and her deputy, Stanislav Křeček, have expressed differing opinions in the case of two Muslim nursing school students last year who were banned from wearing the hijab headscarf in the classroom. The ombudswoman this week described the move as discriminatory. The school defended the ban on the grounds that any headwear in class was “antisocial”. The school’s principal contended the ban had not prevented the students, who since left the school, from practicing their religion. Deputy ombudsman Křeček said he viewed the school as within its rights to issue a ban, but he stressed that was his personal opinion as an independent lawyer. The school in question, meanwhile, has altered its policy, allowing the principal to make exceptions for religious students.
The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem have allowed a Muslim student to repeat her school-leaving exams at a local secondary medical school after she accused one of the teachers on the examination board of anti-Islamism, the news website idnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The student reportedly failed her Czech language exam in May; she claimed she was deliberately failed because she had objected to the teacher showing students anti-Muslim videos during his classes. The teacher, who also serves as an evangelical pastor in the city, has denied the accusations but the regional authorities have approved the student’s request to resit the exams.
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.