Czech mainstream politicians have criticised Zeman's public appearance with a hate speech activist

18. 11. 2015

"Czech President Miloš Zeman supports fascist tendencies in the Czech Republic," said the Czech Minister for the Legislature and Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier in response to Zeman's appearance at a commemorative rally organised by the hate speech group Anti-Islamic Bloc for 17th November 2015, the day of the anniversary of the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. The rally took place in the Albertov University Quarter in Prague. During the rally, Zeman sang the national anthem with Martin Konvička, Head of the Anti-Islamic Bloc. Konvička is well known for his proposal to set up gas chambers and concentration camps for muslims.

"Some statements made by the President are xenophobic and islamophobic and they create fear in Czech society," said Dienstbier. In response to Dienstbier's statement, President Zeman's spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček said that Dienstbier has again shown that he despises ordinary Czech citizens and ignores their justified fear.

After Zeman's appearance at Albertov with the hate speech activist Martin Konvička, the Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán tweeted that according to Czech law, anti-islamic hate speech is punishable by up to two years' imprisonment. Pelikán expressed his frustration that the Czech police refuses to investigate these verbal crimes. However, the Czech police is under the command of the Home Secretary Chovanec who has assumed a hardline position towards the refugees.

"Miloš Zeman is a populist par excellence," said the former right of centre Czech Finance Secretary Miroslav Kalousek from the TOP 09 political party. "If the Czech nation loved islam, Zeman would avidly and regularly frequent a mosque," he added.

Deputy Prime Minister for the Catholic People's Party Pavel Bělobrádek dismissed Zeman's presence at a rally organised by the Anti-Islamic Bloc as a "pre-election stunt": "I think it is unfortunate that the President has joined hands with the extremists. Rather than a dignified commemoration of the anniversary of the fall of communism, this looked like a pre-election meeting."

Karel Schwarzenberg, the leader of the right of centre TOP 09 party, former Foreign Secretary and Zeman's rival during the 2013 presidential election criticised Zeman for "abusing one of the most important national days to promote ideas which are in direct conflict with the spirit of 17th November 1989. Then, students demonstrated for freedom and democracy. Yesterday, people full of hate who speak like fascists gathered together during Zeman's commemorative event."

Czech politicians, vice-chancellors of Czech universities and student representatives also criticised the fact that the rally of the Anti-Islamic Bloc at Albertov meant that the Czech police prevented students from gaining access to the 17th November 1989 memorial in the Albertov University quarter. Only Zeman's supporters were allowed into the area "for security reasons".

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that he understands police security reasons, but in his view, students should have been allowed to lay flowers at the Albertov memorial. "They did not constitute any security risk," said Sobotka. Earlier on the anniversary day of the fall of communism, the Czech Prime Minister emphasised in a speech that "we must show solidarity to people who escape from war and have lost a chance to lead a dignified life in their own countries." Sobotka admitted that people are genuinely afraid of the refugee wave. "These fears must not be dismissed but they must be dealt with by offering an efficient and pragmatic solution of the current crisis. This must be a common solution because no European country can solve the refugee crisis on its own." While Sobotka said he supported the idea of securing the external EU borders, he also warned that people's hate must not be directed against the refugees "who are often the victims of the same fanatics as the people of Paris".

If Zeman does not make a mistake, he has just won the next presidential election, says Prague "media analyst" Irena Ryšánková on the controversial Prague website Parlamentní listy. She adds that the Czech Prime Minister Sobotka has lost his sense of what the Czech nation really feels.

A recent opinion poll has shown that more than 72 per cent of the Czech population love President Zeman's anti-islamic and anti-refugee public statements.

Source in Czech HERE


Obsah vydání | Středa 18.11. 2015