A town surrounded by deep pine forests, dotted with old timbered German-style villas and occasional Communist-era prefab houses, a town boasting many parks, a river, two churches – and the country’s first Buddhist temple. This is Varnsdorf, a town of 16,000 in the northernmost part of the Czech Republic.
Czech TV has started airing antidiscrimination advertisements in the form of fictional job interviews during which the applicants are humiliated by the interviewers. The campaign was designed by a Czech gender studies NGO and financed by the European Social Fund. The Czech Republic has been criticized by the European Union for not having passed the antidiscrimination act; the act was approved by the Czech Parliament but President Václav Klaus vetoed the draft last month.
This week the Minister for Minorities and Human Rights Džamila Stehlíková announced the preliminary results of an ongoing study on difficulties faced by the Roma on the Czech labour market. Unemployment among many Roma remains high although the Czech average overall it is lower than the European Union’s. Czech officials hope they will be able to map out long-term solutions to help curb unemployment and to limit the number of drop-outs in schools in marginalised communities. They also hope to reinforce new skills to improve chances on the jobs
The results of a study conducted by Masaryk University in Brno suggest that age is the most frequent cause of discrimination in the Czech Republic, with almost one-fifth of respondents aged between 18 and 80 saying they had personally experienced it at some point in their lives. One-tenth of respondents said they had experienced gender discrimination, and six percent said they had been discriminated against for health reasons. The Czech Republic still lacks an anti-discrimination law, though the country should have passed it upon its entry to the EU in 2004. President Vaclav Klaus recently vetoed an anti-discrimination bill on the grounds that other laws guaranteed adequate protection against all forms of discrimination.
The Khamoro Festival is an international Romany Festival held in Prague each year. This year saw the 10th anniversary of the event, which features Romany performers and musicians from around the world, celebrating their rich cultural heritage with a packed programme of performances. One of the highlights is a vibrant procession of dancing and music which winds its colourful way from Mustek to Old Town Square. Jamie Brindley followed the procession yesterday.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has blocked a website run by a Czech neo-Nazi group, the newspaper Hospodařské noviny reported. A Czech police representative said the FBI had taken that step at the recommendation of police in the UK, who said the site run by the group Blood and Honour was a terrorist site. Blood and Honour is on a US list of terrorist organisations and has links to Britain’s Combat 18 neo-Nazi group, Hospodařské noviny said. A Czech expert on extremism told the daily that Blood and Honour’s site was spreading Combat 18 materials. The former group became notorious for attacking anti-fascists in the 1990s, but has been less active since its leaders were arrested by the Czech police.
According to new figures released by the National Security Council of the Czech Republic, more than 392,000 foreigners legally came to live and work in the Czech Republic in 2007, a 22% increase on the previous year’s figures. But what are the implications of this increasing trend of immigration into the country? I spoke with Marie Jelínková of the Prague Multicultural Centre for her insight and began by asking her to explain why the Czech Republic was an increasingly attractive location for migrants.
The government's Council for Equal Opportunities will recommend to the government the drafting of a bill which would make stalking in the Czech Republic a criminal offence; the announcement was made by the Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Džamila Stehlíková on Friday. Stalking often plays a role in domestic violence cases, in which former spouses are targeted. Currently, it is prosecuted as a crime in several EU countries, Mrs Stehlíková pointed out. Stalking as a criminal offence appeared in an earlier version of the draft criminal code but was later deleted. Organisations focussed on helping victims of domestic violence are backing its re-inclusion, saying it could allow for the better protection of victims and prevent some cases from escalating into tragedy.
Police are currently investigating a new Czech translation of so-called “neo-Nazi bible” The Turner Diaries, a book said to have inspired the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and other acts of far-right violence. The book – which describes an Aryan revolution that leads to the extermination of the world’s non-white peoples - is banned in many European countries and Czech police must now decide whether it should be banned here too.
The Turner Diaries, a novel considered to be a major source of inspiration to the U.S. neo-Nazi movement, has been published in Prague, making the Czech Republic the only other country, besides the United States, where the book was published legally. The 1978 novel, written by a former U.S. white supremacy activist, describes a violent overthrow of the American government. The Czech police have not taken any steps against the publisher of the Czech translation of the Turner Diaries.
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