Hundreds of people from Nový Bor on Monday took part in a demonstration to protest against escalating violence in their home town. The town’s inhabitants called on the local authorities and the police to do more to ensure public safety and restore law and order. The town has witnesses a growing incidence of street violence and crime culminating in a brutal assault on a bar last week when a number of attackers armed with machetes and clubs forced their way into the bar and smashed the place up in revenge for the eviction of two miners who were not allowed to play on the bar’s gaming machines.
Prague’s first gay pride parade passed off largely without incident on Saturday, the highlight of a five-day ‘festival of tolerance’ held in the Czech capital. Up to seven thousand gays and lesbians marched through the city centre to an outdoor music festival, with only minor disruption from far-right demonstrators. The event, dubbed Prague Pride, had been overshadowed by a heated political debate over homosexuality and tolerance in the Czech Republic.
Civic Democratic officials are largely unbothered by their colleague Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda’s support for the Prague Pride parade, according to the newspaper Právo. The daily reports that only a part of the senior governing party agrees with their former chairman, President Klaus, that the mayor was wrong to allow the march to be held under his auspices, and that such a decision was unbecoming of a conservative politician. Officials canvassed by the paper concurred that the disputes over the issue were needlessly vitriolic.
The first Prague Pride march in support of sexual minorities set off across the city centre on Saturday, the main event of the five-day Tolerance Festival. Roughly 5,000 rainbow-clad marchers met at Náměstí Republiky at 1 p.m. and set out for Střelecký Ostrov, where a music festival will be held. Thousands of bystanders also stopped to watch the parade. The prcession was met by a small group of some 40 right-wing extremists at Jungmannově náměstí, some of whom hurled plastic bottles and insults; no other conflicts occurred. A counter-event organised by young Christian Democrats saw about 200 and ended before the gay pride march began.
In today’s business news: A debate on tax reform has been postponed due to a dispute over flat expense deductions between the prime minister and the finance minister, the bankrupt betting giant Sazka is to be sold in a public tender, grocery chains launch online discount coupons, the Czech Tourism agency announces a campaign targeting gay and lesbian travelers, and an American journal finds that Czech banknotes have some of the world’s highest levels of a potentially dangerous chemical.
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.
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 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.
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