Seven out of ten Czechs fear the influx of refugees and 83 percent say they are concerned about the possible spread of Islam to the Czech Republic, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency. Fear of Islam runs across the whole spectrum of the population with 30 percent of respondents stating a high degree of concern. The poll results indicate that people’s fear of refugees is linked to fear of terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and organized crime.
One of the three Syrian families who were granted asylum in the Czech Republic and whose children were to receive treatment within the Medevac aid programme has departed for Germany, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec reported on Friday. The minister said they left the country shortly after arriving in Prague and it was not possible for the authorities to keep them here against their will. They were the first of a larger group of 15 Syrian families selected by specialists from camps in Jordan in order to give the children medical care which cannot be administered inside the refugee camps. The first three children who arrived had a heart defect, muscle dystrophia and severe burns.
A patient admitted to the psychiatric ward of Olomouc Teaching Hospital is reported to have died after attacking a paramedic and being pacified by the police. The man was admitted late on Thursday and his condition is reported to have worsened during the night. He started demolishing the hospital room and attacked a paramedic who came to tranquilize him. Police officers called to the scene allegedly used a Taser on the patient. He died shortly after. The incident is being investigated by the police’s internal affairs unit GIBS.
The lower house has passes a bill which should encourage Czechs to contribute more to their pension savings by investing into the so-called third pillar, which represents voluntary savings. The proposal would allow people to open such an account even before reaching the age of 18 and introduces benefits such as a higher state contribution, tax relief and easier access to the money. The move goes hand in hand with the scrapping of the so-called second pillar, introduced by the former centre-right government, which enabled people to put part of their pension funds into private insurance companies.
The legendary Czech jockey Josef Váňa has revealed that he wants to run for a seat in the Senate in next years elections to the upper chamber. Váňa won the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase eight times before retiring last year after taking a bad fall. Vana told the news site Novinky.cz he wants to run for the ANO party whose leader, Andrej Babis, he admires.
Meteorologists have called a smog alert in Prague and four other regions, as conditions worsened around the country. The concentration of dust particles in the air is exceeding permitted levels several-fold. Drivers have been asked to use public transport to help alleviate the situation. Should it worsen the authorities could ask the biggest polluters to temporarily scale down production. A smog alert is now in effect in eight regions altogether.
A new memorial marking the visit by the first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk to Rotterdam in 1914 was unveiled in the Dutch town on Thursday by Czech and Slovak ambassadors Jana Reinišová and Roman Bužek. The two-metre memorial by Hans Citroen marks Masaryk’s stay in Rotterdam at the beginning of World War One and his conversation with British writer and historian Robert Seton-Watson, in which they planned the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia.
In football, it was a mixed night for Czech clubs in the Europa League on Thursday night. Sparta Prague drew 1:1 at home with German club Schalke 04. Viktoria Plzeň lost 1:2 against Racing Vienna and now face an almost possible task to go ahead from the group stage. Slovan Liberec beat Dutch club Groningen 1:0.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is not upgrading its travel advice for Egypt at this point in connection with US intelligence reports that the crash of a Russian passenger plane may have been a terrorist act. It has however advised heightened caution. A recommendation against all trips to northern Sinai including the Taba tourist resort remains valid. Egypt is the 6th most popular tourist destination for Czechs traveling abroad with on average 185,000 holiday makers heading there every year.
The detention facility for refugees at Běla-Jezová is not a torture chamber, interior minister Milan Chovanec said on Thursday before visiting the centre, which has been criticised over the way it treated migrants. The minister was accompanied by EU ambassadors and the Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Michaela Marksová, whose portfolio includes child protection. Ms Marksová said after the tour of the facility that the children are well taken care of. Serious doubts about conditions at Běla-Jezová were raised by the country’s ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová, in September. The interior minister admitted shortcomings but said that proper standards had been met.
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