An unidentified perpetrator threw a Molotov cocktail into the house of a Romany family in the Central Bohemian village of Krty late on Tuesday night. The residents of the house were able to extinguish the bottle immediately; one of them was lightly injured in the process. Police have not yet confirmed a racial motive. The perpetrator or perpetrators could face prison sentences of up to 12 years. Several similar attacks against Romanies have taken place in the Czech Republic in recent years, most recently in the Central Bohemian village of Býchory. No one was injured in that attack.
The far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice is planning to protest a parade organized by lesbians and gays as part of the Prague Pride festival on Saturday. According to the party’s chairman, Tomáš Vandas, the parade is nothing but a celebration of homosexuality, which is not natural and never has been. Mr. Vandas also criticizes Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, under whose auspices the five-day Prague Pride festival is taking place. According to Czeslaw Walek, the chairman of the festival board, the organizers have been discussing safety issues with police. Last week, presidential aide Petr Hájek labeled the parade a march of deviants and was backed in his criticism by President Václav Klaus.
The five-day Prague Pride gay festival kicked off on Wednesday amidst heated political controversy. The country’s top political figures, including President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Nečas have voiced their opinions on the event. Organizers say the media attention will swell the ranks of participants – both supporters and opponents – of Saturday’s gay parade through the city centre.
The Czech charity organisation People in Need working in south-eastern Ethiopia has found a group of roughly six thousand people suffering from hunger and malnourishment. Known for working in remote areas, the organisation was near the Somali border looking into the state of a group of local herdsmen whose cattle had died out and found that they had been joined by several thousand drought refugees from neighbouring Somalia. Local communities have been trying to care for the refugees so far, but their material support - water, food and firewood –
Organisers of a gay rights festival which begins in Prague on Wednesday, say they expect a turnout of more than 7,000 people during Saturday’s planned parade. Prague Pride, offering dozens of events through to Sunday, is the first festival of its kind in the Czech Republic. The planned events, however, have come under fire from ultra-conservatives and provoked highly-controversial remarks from some officials. Petr Hájek, a close aide to President Václav Klaus, for example, referred to homosexuals as “deviants” in connection with the event. The president later backed Mr Hájek by describing deviant as a “neutral” term. At a press conference in Prague on Wednesday the head of Prague Pride, Czeslaw Walek, suggested that those who held similar opinions in the Czech Republic were few, while guest speaker Radim Špaček, a well-known film director, called Czech society tolerant. No special steps have been taken regarding security during the festival, although one event was called off for security reasons.
Also regarding Mr Bátora, an association of WWII political prisoners and their descendents has asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas to review supporters of extremist opinions in the Ministry of Education. In an open letter to the prime minister, the association says that available information shows Mr Bátora to be a proponent of anti-Semitism and fascism who has consorted with neo-Nazis. A series of associations including Amnesty International, the Czech Helsinki Committee and Romea have made similar complaints in recent days. Education Minister Josef Dobeš has defended his advisor, calling him a conscientious nationalist and Catholic. Bátora himself says that his security clearance itself shows he is neither an extremist nor a racist.
An ultra-conservative citizen’s initiative, D.O.S.T., has delivered an open letter of protest to official supporters of an upcoming gay rights march in Prague. Initiative leader Ladislav Bátora, who is also an advisor to the education minister, called upon Prague Mayor Bohuslav Sobota and American Ambassador Norman Eisen on Monday to renounce their support for the Prague Pride march, saying the protestors’ demands go beyond the limits of tolerance. Mr. Bátora, who once stood as an independent candidate for the now-defunct far-right National Party, also criticised the ambassador for “meddling in the internal affairs” of the Czech Republic. Last Friday, President Václav Klaus backed comments made by his deputy chief of staff, Petr Hájek, who referred to homosexuals as “deviants”. On the same day, thirteen ambassadors to Prague, among them those of Germany, the UK, the United States and Denmark, signed a joint letter expressing their support for the marchers.
With two more days left to go before it begins, the gay and lesbian community’s Prague Pride festival has stirred up considerable controversy. The event, held under the auspices of Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, has come under fire from public figures such as the head of the ultra-conservative Civic Initiative D.O.S.T. Ladislav Bátora, the controversial presidential aide Petr Hájek, and even the president himself.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Friday backed anti-gay comments made by his deputy chief of staff, Petr Hájek who said a planned gay pride march in Prague was an event held by “deviant people”. President Klaus “strongly rejected” a demand from two Czech political parties to distance himself from those comments. In a statement, Mr Klaus said he felt “no pride” about the Prague Pride march scheduled for August 14, adding that while homosexuality deserved protection, “homosexualism” did not. The Czech president also said that for him the word “deviant” was neutral.
Embassies of 13 countries on Friday expressed support for the planned Prague Pride gay parade. In a joint statement, the ambassadors of the United States, the UK, Germany, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland said they supported the right of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals to hold a peaceful march through the city to raise awareness of the problems they face. The British embassy, which initiated the joint statement, said it was not related to the position of President Václav Klaus and his aide, Petr Hájek.
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