Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has expressed sympathy with Muslims protesting against newspaper prints of Prophet Mohamed caricatures. Mr Vlk says Christians have also had to come to terms with several examples of what he called the "defamation" of Christian religious figures. Their objections, however, have not been heard because Christians are less sensitive and not as quick to fight for their beliefs. The Cardinal added that the media "crosses the limits of freedom of speech" when it insults religious figures with examples like the Prophet Mohammed cartoon.
Health Minister David Rath is currently on a state visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to sign a memorandum on closer cooperation with his Saudi counterpart on Monday. Some 5,000 Saudis are treated in Czech spas every year and Mr Rath hopes to see that number rise to push more money into the ailing health sector. The Saudi government has also expressed interest in more Czech doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists, who can share their expertise on spa treatment with their Saudi colleagues.
The National Gallery in Prague celebrated the 210th anniversary of its foundation this Sunday. The gallery came to being on February 5 1796, thanks to the joint efforts of a group of intellectuals and aristocrats called the Patriotic Friends of the Arts. Besides a number of accompanying programmes, the gallery also offered free tours of most of its permanent exhibitions on Sunday.
Fire fighters in the South Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice battled rising water levels on the river Vltava on Sunday after part of a local hospital was flooded with sewage water. Freezing temperatures froze the river surface, forcing the water underneath to spill back into the canalisation. The river authorities have also been called to the town to lower the water levels.
This Saturday is designated as World Cancer Day. An estimated ten million people are diagnosed with cancer globally every year. Statistics show that every third Czech is diagnosed with a malignant tumour, of whom every fourth loses the battle against the disease. February 4 was proclaimed World Cancer Day at the first World Summit Against Cancer in Paris six years ago. Since then, cancer organisations worldwide have been using this day as a platform to highlight the plight of people affected by cancer and to put cancer on the agendas of governments, policy makers, the media and communities around the world.
Police are investigating the death of a counter-intelligence service agent, who was a good friend of the recently murdered businessman Frantisek Mrazka. The newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Saturday that the body of 40-year old Jaroslav Pospisil was found in a car two days after the businessman's murder. Police say they do not know whether Mr Pospisil was also murdered or whether he committed suicide. He suffered gunshots to his head but an autopsy has yet to determine the actual cause of death. According to Mlada Fronta Dnes, a connection between the two deaths cannot be ruled out.
A poster made by Czech Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha was auctioned off for a record 9,150 euros on Friday at a Drouot-Richelieu salesroom in Paris. The 1898 poster, an ad for the cigarette paper Job, is one of a series of posters from the Francois Champenois printing house in Paris. Mucha is also known for other works, including portraits, sculptures, and even jewellery, but he first shot to fame with his posters when he lived in the French capital at the end of the 19th century.
The speakers of parliament of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have urged their governments to push more for the liberalisation of the labour market in the European Union. Citizens of all four countries, known as the Visegrad Four, are subject to labour restrictions in 12 EU member states. The representatives of parliament discussed the issues at a summit in Prague on Friday and Saturday, where they were also joined by European Social Policy and Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla.
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