Czech heavy metal singer accused of racism over latest album

20-07-2009

A Czech heavy metal star has got himself into trouble over the lyrics of the title song of his band’s latest album “Deratizer” or exterminator. The refrain refers to stealing gypsies and suggests an exterminator be employed. The rock singer has defended himself against accusations of racism.

The lyrics from the title song of the latest album by the well-known Czech heavy rock musician Aleš Brichta have put him at the centre of a row over whether they call for the racist cleansing of the Roma community

Mr Brichta’s refrain accuses politicians of making idiots of everyone while gypsies steal bicycles in the streets. It finally suggests some sort of exterminator could solve the problem.

Lawyers who represent Roma organisations say that the text is unambiguously racist. Czech Television has reported that police are investigating whether it breaks the clear Czech legal ban on material which incites hatred or demeans minorities or ethnic groups.

As well as those lyrics, the album cover of Brichta and his ABband’s latest offering displays the so-called exterminator in action with some sort of gun on Prague’s landmark Charles Bridge.

Aleš Brichta, photo: CTKAleš Brichta, photo: CTK As well as a drug addict and homeless person on the receiving end of this action, there is also an image of a dark-skinned youth fleeing the scene with an apparently stolen car radio and woman’s handbag. Brichta says the figure is taken from an Arabian tale.

The musician was a founding member of the heavy metal band Arakain which was a giant on the Czech heavy rock scene in the 1980s and 1990s. He says he is not a racist and says the text includes some artistic license. The song is, he says, essentially an attack on Czech politicians for not addressing fundamental problems in society and is a call for them to get to grips with criminality.

One of those politicians – former deputy prime minister and leader of the Christian Democrats Jiří Čunek - has described Brichta’s call for an exterminator as “tough” but suggested it might have been artistically beefed up. Mr Čunek leapt into national politics after removing members of the Roma community from the centre of the town where he was mayor. Other politicians have condemned the song.

The storm over the 50-year old musician comes almost a week after Canada reintroduced visas on Czechs because of a surge in asylum applicants from Roma. These have followed a series of extremist marches targeting the Roma and horrific attacks on them. The Czech government was due to unveil a report on the condition of the Roma community on Monday together with suggestions on what further steps should be taken to tackle their exclusion.

20-07-2009