The Interior Ministry this week issued its annual report on extremism, in which it says that ultra-right groupings are no longer politically relevant and their agenda has been adopted by the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), which however cannot be defined as “extremist”. I spoke to extremism expert Miroslav Mareš, about the gradual seeping of in tolerance into mainstream political parties and why it is that the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party cannot be defined as extremist.
Why do ethnic conflicts in some parts of the world flare up so easily and spread so fast? Is ethnic hate and intolerance contagious? Researchers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia joined forces to try to find the answers to some of those questions and arrived at some surprising conclusions. I spoke to Associate Professor Michal Bauer, an expert on experimental and behavioral economics at CERGE-EI, who is one of the authors of the study, and began by asking him what motivated the research in this field.
The deputy governor of the region of Ústí and the head of the local
branch of the Communist Party in Chomutov Jaroslav Komínek has made racist
comments on facebook insulting Egyptians after a return from a vacation in
Egypt in which the local politician said he and friends had been forced to
pay an extra 160 euros or so for their flight from Marsa Alam.
Writing online, the politician described Egyptians as “monkeys descended from Neanderthals” and called them an “embarrassment to civilization”, the Czech News Agency reported after the racist comments were uncovered on Sunday by Hlidacipes.org.
Ústí governor Oldřich Bubeníček, also of the Communist Party, said the comments were his deputy’s private matter; ČTK was not able to get a hold of Mr Komínek for comment. The words in question have since been deleted.
Deputy Trade Minister Karel Novotný from the Social Democratic Party caused a stir by putting hate speech on Facebook. The deputy compared Romanies to jellyfish, saying they were troublesome and useless. Trade Minister Jiří Havlíček promptly distanced himself from the statement, saying it was totally unacceptable. The minister told the news site Aktualne.cz he would speak with his deputy in person before deciding on what course of action to take.
The Supreme Court has upheld a six-year sentence for an arson attack against a lodging house which was home to 18 Romany inhabitants, including 8 children. Two young men, who sympathised with the neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, splashed the building with petrol and threw Molotov cocktails into the house. Luckily the inhabitants of the lodging house managed to put out the fire in time and no one was hurt in the incident. One of the youths convicted appealed the decision on the grounds that there were no injuries. The judge rejected the argument, stressing the gravity of what he said was a premeditated, racially-motivated attack.
The police have proposed the charging of four people over the spraying of neo-Nazi symbols on Prague cafés and shops aligned with the Hate Free project. The four are accused of criminal damage and expressing sympathy for a group aimed at suppressing rights and freedoms. Seven businesses that had signed up as “Hate Free zones” were targeted in the attacks in April last year. The Hate Free Culture campaign combatting intolerance and racism is run by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion.
At the start of this year historian Matěj Spurný came in for a great deal of online abuse – and even death threats – after an interview he gave a magazine headlined This country is not just for Czechs. Spurný’s work is focused on issues of nationalism and identity and he is a co-founder of Antikomplex, a group advocating for a more critical look at the post-war expulsion of the country’s German minority. When the Charles University academic visited our studios I was curious to know, given his specialisation, about his own family background.
The HateFree Culture project, launched by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion in 2014, may come to an abrupt end. The minister for human rights and minorities, Jan Chvojka, who was appointed to office two months ago, has announced his decision to terminate it as of April following negative reports regarding its financing and allegations that one of its key organizers may have a conflict of interest. I spoke to Magda Faltová, head of the Association for Integration and Migration, about the decision and whether she thinks the project is still