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.
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