A radical far-right group wants to march through Plzeň on Saturday to protest against alleged restrictions on freedom of speech in the Czech Republic. Two months after thousands of ordinary people took to the streets to block a similar march through Prague’s Jewish Quarter, the organizers of the Plzen march are calling on their supporters to turn up armed this time round.
The League against Anti-Semitism say the authorities in Plzeň were wrong to grant permission for a neo-Nazi demonstration due to take place next Saturday, the anniversary of the first transport of Jews from the west Bohemian city in 1942. League against Anti-Semitism spokeswoman Věra Tydlitátová said a bureaucratic oversight allowed permission for the procession to be given, despite the rejection of another application to march a week later. Jewish leaders have organised a service in front of the city’s Great Synagogue as a counter to the far-right march.
As of the beginning of this year, a new package of social reforms has come into effect here in the Czech Republic, introducing major changes related to child care. Until recently, mothers had been receiving parental allowance in regular instalments over a period of three years. Now, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has introduced a new system intended to give parents more flexibility in combining work and child-care, by giving them freedom of choice.
Controversial Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek is still angling for a return to the cabinet, although Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek says he’ll have to iron out his differences with the Green Party first. Mr Čunek was forced out over an alleged corruption scandal, but the Greens also find his views on the Romany minority somewhat distasteful. So his latest remarks on integration are unlikely to curry favour with the Green Party leadership, although they may succeed in boosting his flagging approval ratings.
Roma rights activists have criticised statements by the chairman of the
Christian Democrats, Jiří Čunek, who said Romany family groups should be
broken up in order to weaken family ties which he said prevented them from
integrating. Speaking ahead of a party conference in Prague, he also said
that traditional Romany culture was not compatible with modern society.
Zdeněk Ryšavý of the group Romea said Mr Čunek had made the comments in
an effort to increase his fading popularity.
Jiří Čunek won a seat in the Senate after moving Romany rent defaulters out of the centre of the town of Vsetín, where he was mayor. The controversial politician is demanding to be reinstated as deputy prime minister and minister for regional development, after an investigation into allegations he accepted bribes at that time was dropped. A poll this week suggested Mr Čunek’s popularity was at a record low.
Police in the east Moravian town of Zlín have charged three youths – said to be skinheads aged 15 to 17 – for an alleged racially-motivated attack against a Sri Lankan exchange student. The attack against the student took place in Zlín last November. The youths are suspected of having brutally beaten the man by kicking him in the head and stomach. A study commissioned by the police revealed the attack could easily have left serious damage. As none of the three suspects are of age, if found guilty each faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Prague City Hall is to establish a new police unit to tackle the problem of homelessness in the capital. On Tuesday, deputy mayor Jiří Janeček made the announcement, adding that the police unit’s goal would be to make Prague’s homeless either leave the capital or ‘reintegrate into society’. He said that Prague City Hall would find employment for each homeless person ‘displaying an interest in work’. But the plan has been criticised by some social workers, who say that it fails to tackle the problem, which, they say, has deeper roots than unemployment. According to last year’s census, there are around 2000 homeless people in Prague. Around half of them sleep rough, while another half are accommodated in shelters run by charities.
An exhibition celebrating the history of the gay and lesbian movement in the Czech Republic has just opened here in Prague. It is mostly focused on gay culture in the last two decades, when Czech homosexuals have made great strides in achieving equality. When it comes to an end in the capital, the exhibition will tour the country.
It was a story that sells papers – a homeless man finds an abandoned baby boy in a garbage can and saves his life. Miroslav Szamseli, a man who’d been homeless for 15 years was suddenly a household name and his life changed overnight. However, late last week, the story that moved millions of Czechs took an unexpected twist. The sudden change of fortune landed the homeless man in a psychiatric clinic.
A homeless man, who saved a newborn abandoned in a rubbish bin in December, has been taken to Prague’s Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. Police assisted in escorting the baby’s saviour, Miroslav Szamszeli, to the hospital after he reportedly tried to attack a doctor treating him for a sprain. Earlier the man had jumped from a 3-metre high window at a new place of residence. The spokeswoman from the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital said on Friday that Mr Szamszeli’s behaviour was in reaction to heightened media attention. She said he had since calmed and his condition is stable. Doctors will assess possible next steps after further evaluation.
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