Under a new campaign sponsored by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion, Czech pubs, cafés and other venues are now able to display stickers declaring that they welcome members of the country’s minority communities. Called Hate Free Zones, they are part of the broader Hate Free Culture project, which began late last year. I asked organiser Lukáš Houdek what Hate Free Culture is hoping to achieve. More
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
Responding to criticism regarding alleged discrimination of Romany children in the Czech education system, the Czech Education Ministry said on Friday it was paying exceptional attention to securing equal access to education for all children and considered it to be one of its main priorities. The ministry’s spokeswoman Klara Bila noted that the ministry was systematically working to include socially-disadvantaged children into the education mainstream. One of these measures, which has yet to be put into practice, is compulsory attendance of pre-school classes which would help Romany children integrate and overcome the cultural differences and language barrier that often present a problem.
A project aimed at presenting the history and culture of Islam to Czech students in view of building a multicultural, tolerant society has hit the rocks. The Czech Education Ministry announced on Thursday it was withdrawing its support for the project after receiving numerous complaints from parents. More
Lukáš Houdek is a man of varied interests. As well as being a photographer who has explored the post-war massacres of Czechoslovakia’s ethnic Germans, he is co-curator of an exhibition entitled Transgender Me that gets underway in Prague on Monday. In addition, Houdek, a Romani Studies graduate, writes for a leading Roma affairs website; indeed, for much of our interview I was under the mistaken impression that he himself was a member of the ethnic minority. 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
Conservatives but also members of extremist groups are reportedly planning to turn up on Saturday at Prague’s Wenceslas Square to actively demonstrate against the Prague Pride Festival which celebrates GLBT culture. No such demonstration, however, has been given approval by the city, according to the Czech News Agency. Prague Pride wraps up on Saturday with a parade from the centre of the city to Prague’s Letná Park. It is estimated that up to 20,000 people could take part. Several hundred police will monitor the route of the parade to try and prevent any incidents. Conservatives groups have consistently slammed the festival since it began four years ago, alleging it went against ‘family values’ and that participants were‘deviants’.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday met with the Minister For Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier to discuss problems and priorities in the given portfolio. He praised the minister’s strategy in fighting social exclusion and integrating the Roma minority. Minister Dienstbier is pushing ahead with plans to establish social housing and is currently working on a bill that would increase the powers of the Ombudsman.