Hradec Králové looks for ways to stop neo-Nazi gathering

15-08-2008

The city of Hradec Králové in Eastern Bohemia is battening down the hatches this weekend as it could become the latest venue for a gathering by hundreds of neo-Nazis. A group called the Worker’s Party has booked the city’s outdoor cinema for an event dubbed Freedom Day, but observers are convinced the event is a cover for a rally by hard-core neo-Nazi groups.

Hradec KrálovéHradec Králové After Prague, Plzeň and Brno, Hradec Králové – a pleasant city of some 100,000 souls – is bracing itself for the arrival of several hundred neo-Nazi sympathisers, with a large contingent of riot police on standby to prevent clashes with their opponents. The city’s outdoor cinema was booked by a group called the Worker’s Party, who said they wanted it for a “cultural-political afternoon” dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.

Saturday is, however, the day before the anniversary of the death of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess, and according to chatter on neo-Nazi websites, the event will attract members of violent neo-Nazi groups including National Resistance and the Autonomous Nationalists. Klara Kalibová monitors far-right extremism for an NGO called Tolerance and Civic Society:

Photo: Štěpánka BudkováPhoto: Štěpánka Budková “As far as I’m concerned the information already available about this event, combined with what the police see on Saturday, should be sufficient for them to ban it. The police should be prepared for the slightest justification to ban this event – all they need to do is identify that this is a neo-Nazi gathering. Which of course we already know it is, in all probability. This will have to be confirmed by police on the scene – i.e. that the people who are supposed to be turning up do actually turn up.”

Once again the local authorities seem to have been tricked into unwittingly renting out space to neo-Nazi groups. Hradec city council says the outdoor cinema was booked by a Jiří Barta, who said he wanted it for a mini rock concert. What the city council didn’t know was that Jiří Barta is allegedly a known National Resistance activist. Klara Kalibová again:

Photo: Štěpánka BudkováPhoto: Štěpánka Budková “I don’t believe the local authorities or the police sympathise with the neo-Nazis, definitely not. It’s more a question of lack of knowledge, a lack of experience in this area, and, yes, some degree of laxness and indifference. The overwhelming majority of police officers and officials do not sympathise with neo-Nazis, I really don’t think so.”

Council lawyers are currently poring over the rulebooks, looking for a legal loophole. A spokesman for the council said they might have found one – the event’s organisers are inviting people to a public gathering, which isn’t the same as a rock concert. But in the end the council might have the weather on their side. A member of the Workers’ Party said he hoped the event would attract 300-400 people “depending on the weather”. And the forecast for Saturday is lousy.

15-08-2008