Approximately 1.5 million Czechs are living below the national poverty line. In line with their election promises, the Social Democrats have now unveiled a long-term poverty reduction plan aiming to improve their lot. But with money in short supply, the leading party in government will need to convince its own coalition partners of the need to spend tens of billions of crowns on higher pensions and social housing.
Hundreds of Vietnamese people from across the Czech Republic staged a protest on Sunday in front of China’s embassy in Prague. With banners that read “Stop China”, “Get Out of Vietnam”, and others, they protested against what they see as China’s intrusion into allegedly Vietnamese territorial waters in the South China Sea. In recent weeks, Vietnam’s government has complained of incidents in which Chinese vessels deliberately rammed Vietnamese ships in an attempt to gain control of parts of the area. The organizers of Prague’s protest told the news agency ČTK that despite living far from Vietnam, they had a duty to defend their home country. There are an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Vietnamese people living in the Czech Republic, many of them Czech citizens.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Saturday commemorated Romany victims of the Holocaust at the site of the former concentration camp in Lety, in southern Bohemia. Mr Sobotka said his government would not release funds necessary to remove a pig farm, established at the site in the 1970s, and suggested the money be instead used for the education of Romany children. Some 1,300 Czech Romanies passed through the camp between 1940 and 1943; round 330 of them died there, while another 500 were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The Czech Interior Ministry has found that the police broke no laws when they raided two Islamic centres in Prague two weeks ago, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said after a meeting the police president. The organized crime unit of the Czech police raided a mosque and an Islamic community centre in the capital, quoting the distribution of a racist book as the reason. The operation came under criticism by Muslim community leaders as well as some foreign diplomats and public figures. On Friday, Minister Chovanec said he had asked police bosses to consider all possible aspects and risks of any such operation in the future.
Breaking down traditional stereotypes of what jobs should be done by males and females is not a mainstream issue or priority in the Czech Republic. So while there seems to have been some progress in getting women in traditional male sectors, and vice versa, the advances have not been dramatic. In this week’s marketplace, we look at the very different ways Norway and the Czech Republic have tackled the problem.
A recent dramatic police raid of two Islamic centres in Prague has put the spotlight on the country’s Muslim community. Community leaders have denounced the operation as excessive but the police have charged one man over the distribution of an allegedly xenophobic book. So why did Czech Muslims publish a book by a radical Wahabi author? In this edition of In Focus, we discuss the situation of the Czech Muslim community with Bronislav Ostřanský from the Czech Academy of Sciences. I first asked him about the book, The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Bilal
Public broadcaster Czech Television has refused to air a campaign video provided by one of the parties running in the European elections. The clip, supplied by a fringe nationalist party No to Brussels – National Democracy, features Jewish, Muslim, LGBT and other symbols; the broadcaster said the clip’s context could provoke strong negative emotional reactions in parts of the Czech society. Czech TV said it asked the party to provide another clip; the head of the group, Adam Bartoš, denounced the decision and said it was meant to hurt the party at the polls.
Expressions of anti-Semitism on the Czech Internet doubled in 2013 compared with the previous year according to the annual report by the Czech Jewish community released on Monday. Instances of anti-Semitism on the Internet totaled 156 last year compared with 82 in 2012. The number of instances has increased fivefold since 2008. The number of anti-Semitic attacks on individuals or property was stable with the Czech Republic still a country where anti-Jewish expressions are uncommon at a public and political level, the report added.
Mayors from 18 local councils in the north of the Czech Republic bordering Germany have sent a letter to the prime minister drawing his attention to the tinder box situation in the area, the daily Lidové Noviny reported on Monday. The deprived Šluknov area was the scene of demonstrations by extreme right wing groups and ethnic tensions with the local Roma community three years ago. Since then, mayors say little has changed in terms of creating jobs or opportunities or increasing local police numbers and council budgets. The mayors warn Bohuslav Sobotka that without action the tensions could boil over again this summer.
The Indonesian Embassy in Prague has filed a complaint to the Czech Foreign Ministry over Friday’s police raid at the headquarters of Prague’s Islamic Foundation and a mosque on the outskirts of the city. The raid, made in connection with an allegedly racist publication, took place during Friday prayers disrupting the ceremony attended by around one hundred believers, including women and children. Among them were members of the Indonesian Embassy who were detained for an hour and a half despite their diplomatic status. The police detained 20 people and charged one of inciting racial hatred and xenophobia.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott