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.
A group of two dozen MPs from across the political spectrum received the 2013 bePROUD prize for supporting minority rights. The prize was awarded in recognition of their joint effort to push through legislation which would enable gay and lesbian couples to adopt their partner’s child. The draft legislation tabled shortly before the lower house was disbanded to open the way for early elections late last year failed to win approval. The 2013 anti-prize went to psychologist Jeroným Klimeš for “spreading stereotypes and homophobic statements about the gay and lesbian community”.
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 Indonesian Embassy in Prague has filed a complaint to the Czech Foreign Ministry over Friday’s police raid at the headquarters of Prague’s Islamic Foundation and a mosque on the outskirts of the city. The raid, made in connection with an allegedly racist publication, took place during Friday prayers disrupting the ceremony attended by around one hundred believers, including women and children. Among them were members of the Indonesian Embassy who were detained for an hour and a half despite their diplomatic status. The police detained 20 people and charged one of inciting racial hatred and xenophobia.
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
A number of Czech towns and cities marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday with traditional outdoor ceremonies at which the names of Holocaust victims are read out by politicians, church dignitaries and leading cultural figures. In the Czech capital the ceremony took place at Prague’s Náměstí Míru square attended among others by the minister for human rights and minorities, Jiří Dienstbier, the Israeli ambassador to Prague Garz Koren and others. The event, held for the 9th year now, is jointly organized by the Foundation for Holocaust Victims and the Terezín Initiative Institute. Of Czechoslovakia’s pre-war Jewish population of 350,000, 250,000 died during the Holocaust.