Tuesday, October 27, 2009


More than 100 people demonstrate in Prague against racism and extremism
Prague, 25.10.2009, 10:10, (ROMEA)

Yesterday more than 100 people met on Náměstí Míru in Prague to demonstrate against racism and extremism. Romani women activists and civic associations working with minorities gathered to protest growing racial intolerance and extremism in Czech society. The protest was convened by the Slovo 21 civic association in cooperation with the ROMEA civic association.

"We feel the need to speak out and say we are not satisfied with the current situation,” Martina Horváthová of Slovo 21 told ČTK. Horváthová believes that if women find the courage to demonstrate their disagreement with growing racism and extremism, ordinary people may realize the results of keeping silent.

Speakers at the gathering included the chair of the Czech Helsinki Committee, Anna Šabatová, actress Táňa Fischerová, and representatives of the League against Anti-Semitism and Burma Center Prague. "I am here to say out loud that I want to feel safe in this country. I do not want to live in fear of attack when I travel home from work,” Marta Hudečková of Slovo 21 said.

Participants brought banners reading "We are extremely against extremism" or "Don’t raise your children to be racists". A declaration entitled Together against Racism and Incivility (Společně proti rasismu a neslušnosti) was available for signature. The organizers hope to collect even more signatures on the internet and to hand the declaration over to politicians in January.

Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Kocáb gave his support to the demonstration last week. "For quite some time I have been calling for the engagement of civil society against radical neo-Nazi or fascist extremism, so it is good the citizens themselves are stepping up,” Kocáb told ČTK, adding that he intends to double efforts aimed directly at extremist sympathizers to enlighten them about the harmfulness of their opinions. "Often such sympathizers are still children themselves,” he explained.

Hundreds of Roma demonstrated against growing extremism at the start of May in 14 towns around the country. The chain demonstration was a response to the arson attack on a Romani family in Vítkov, which injured three people, one of them a two-year-old girl who is still fighting for her life in hospital. In Chomutov and Ostrava those protests were disrupted by extremists, but in other places the majority population came out in support.

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