Police in west Bohemia have suggested that a march banned by officials which neo-Nazis had planned to hold in the city of Plzeň on Saturday may be moved to Prague. Police representatives revealed on Friday that some 700 extremists – including radicals from abroad – may still try and meet in the capital’s Palacký square. The square is the city’s version of speaker’s corner in London’s Hyde Park, where demonstrators can meet without permission from the authorities. Police have reacted by saying the number of patrols on the street will be increased in Prague on Saturday, while in west Bohemia officials are also preparing extensive measures: as many as 1,000 officers will be at the ready to break up any demonstration by right-wing radicals.
The mayor of Plzeň has banned a march by neo-Nazi skinheads planned for this Saturday. The ban was announced amid protests from the Jewish community and concerns it could end in violent clashes with anti-fascist demonstrators, as happened in Prague in November. It's now unclear whether far-right activists will attempt to ignore the ban and travel to Plzeň, with chatter on neo-Nazi websites suggesting they may gather in Prague instead.
A march planned by neo-Nazis in Plzeň on Saturday has been banned by the town’s authorities. The march had been planned by neo-Nazis in protest against what they called the curtailment of freedom of speech. Far-right groups were unhappy with the decision of Prague authorities in November to ban a similar march through the town’s Jewish quarter on the anniversary of Kristallnacht – a Nazi pogrom. The neo-Nazis were planning to march through Plzeň on the anniversary of the transportation of the town’s Jews to the concentration camp Terezín. Plzeň authorities had originally allowed the march to take place, and hundreds of neo-Nazis were expected to turn up, but, on Thursday, in the face of strong media pressure, the municipality outlawed the march.
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.
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