A march by the Workers’ Party in Krupka, north Bohemia on Saturday afternoon passed off quite peacefully. Police prevented the far-right group from attempting to enter a local apartment complex largely populated by Romanies. Two Romanies were arrested for throwing beer glasses at the far-right demonstrators. The Workers’ Party came to national attention when they fought running battles with police who stopped them from entering a Romany neighbourhood in Litvínov in November. Last month the Supreme Administrative Court turned down a Czech government request to ban the small grouping.
Weather forecasters have warned that dry weather and strong winds could cause fires in several parts of the Czech Republic. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute issued a warning that fires could break out in eight of the country’s regions between now and Tuesday night, when expected gales should have died down.
The UK-based architect Eva Jiřičná is to take over a large-scale project the late Jan Kaplický designed for the city of České Budějovice. The two-billion crown Antonín Dvořák Concert and Congress Centre was still in the planning stages when Kaplický died suddenly at the beginning of this year. The České Budějovice project has been nicknamed the stingray. It bears some resemblance to a National Library building dubbed the blob that Jan Kaplický designed for Prague; after he won the Czech Republic’s first ever international architecture tender for the library building the project was scotched by the city’s authorities.
A former leader of the American white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan has been expelled from the Czech Republic. David Duke was arrested by Czech police shortly after arriving in Prague on Friday for denying the Holocaust in his book My Awakening. He was ordered to leave the country by midnight on Saturday. Mr Duke was brought to the Czech Republic by a member of the neo-Nazi group Národní odpor (National Resistance) and had been due to deliver lectures in Prague and Brno. Following his release from custody in the early hours of Saturday morning, a lawyer for the KKK man said she would file a complaint against the police, who she said had not followed correct procedure in the case.
Prague police are investigating the deaths of a number of drug addicts in the city in recent weeks. Five addicts between the ages of 20 and 30 are believed to have died in different parts of the capital in the last fortnight. A police spokesperson said they were long term users who did not appear to have overdosed.
The minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says Romanies have an important role to play in the fight against far-right extremism in the Czech Republic. Speaking in the newspaper Právo, Mr Langer said a new strategy to combat extremism to be unveiled by the prime minister would emphasise the responsibility of every citizen in dealing with the problem. Having been the victims of extremism recently, Romanies should realise they have a key role in fighting it, the minister said. The subject of far-right extremists has been in the news a lot lately following neo-Nazi demonstrations and a petrol bomb attack on a Roma family’s home that left a two-year-old girl fighting for her life.
Police have confirmed that a blaze last Saturday, which left a two-year old girl fighting for her life, was arson. The attack took place on a family home in the town of Vítkov in the north-east of the country. So far, the police say they have evidence that three Molotov cocktails were used. They are searching for the perpetrators. Targeted in the attack were eight members of a Romany family; of the three hurt, the little girl was the most seriously injured, suffering severe burns to 80 percent of her body. She remains in critical condition. Her parents also suffered burns but their injuries were not life-threatening. On Thursday, Michael Kocáb, the outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities visited the mother in hospital. He described what had happened to the family as a horror and terrorist attack.
The manager of the London football club Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, has admitted that a return date for injured Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický remains unclear. That has led to broad speculation the 28-year-old, who has been out of action since January 2008, might never return to the team. Rosický, who has captained the Czech national side and remains one of the Czech Republic’s most respected players, suffered a injury last year that has continued to baffle doctors. The player has undergone two knee operations but been unable to return to the pitch. Some sources have suggested Rosický’s future with Arsenal could be further threatened following an explosive start by fellow player Andrey Arshavin.
The Czech European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Vladimír Špidla has said the current recession is increasing the social exclusion of Romanies throughout the European Union. He made the statement at an EU Presidency meeting focussing on Romany integration on Friday. According to the commissioner, constructive measures to allow new opportunities were needed, stressing the new measures on education, housing, and employment needed to be tailored specifically to the Roma community. The newly-established platform is to focus on the issue of integration; this year, the EU set aside five million euros for the pilot project.
The outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb has announced he will push for the founding of a council of specialists to help tackle extremism in the country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the minister said that the public was underestimating rising extremism and anti-Romany sentiments. According to Mr Kocáb, the council would include politicians, representatives from the Roma community, sociologists, historians, lawyers and others. The aim - he made clear on Friday - was to generate vocal and positive discussion on the issues. Since last year the country has seen a higher number of far-right demonstrations, the latest in Ustí nad Labem last weekend. Saturday also saw an attack against a Romany family which shocked many in the country. Police are investigating whether it was racially-motivated.
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