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Czech tabloid's skewed reporting almost launches anti-Romani protests

Prague, 20.11.2012 16:57, (ROMEA)
A screen shot of the Prostějovský Večerník for 19 November 2012. The headline for this story reads
A screen shot of the Prostějovský Večerník for 19 November 2012. The headline for this story reads "GYPSY BRUTALITY, they kicked a hockey player! We know what happened"

The Prostějovský Večerník, a real local tabloid, has published a news item that manipulates its facts so as to instigate anti-Romani sentiment as much as possible. According to the report, Romani assailants allegedly attacked Robert Jedlička, a hockey player for the Prostějov team (the Jestřáby) near the Varna discotheque in the town of Olomouc. Jedlička ended up with a broken nose and brain concussion. The brawl was allegedly preceded by several Romani people shouting foul insults and making vulgar gestures at Jedlička's girlfriend and an acquaintance of hers.

The author of the news item reported that five Romani people assaulted the hockey player, basing that assumption on the eyewitness claims of Jedlička's girlfriend, which were quoted in the article as follows: "Then a conflict broke out between Robert and two Gypsies. A friend was helping him and everything was relatively ok until suddenly another three or four rushed him from the darkness. Robert started to back off, but they pushed him to the ground and one of them gave him a real kick directly to the face."

One person's testimony does not necessarily present the entire truth. In her fear, the girlfriend could have been confused or exaggerated her story while telling it. The description of the situation given by the municipal police patrol that intervened is a second source of testimony. The tabloid ran an update to the story including the police version of events (even as it kept on trying to manipulate the facts).

"On 4 November at 3:03 AM a patrol of the Olomouc Municipal Police was on duty and saw a small group of approximately 20 people on Svoboda Avenue in Olomouc who began to physically assault one another. The patrol members did their best to prevent the incident from unfolding and determined that two 23-year-old men had been drawn into a boxing duel, which they abandoned at the order of the police, who then gave them both first aid. A man from a village in Prostějov district was transferred by ambulance with massive facial bleeding for treatment at the Olomouc Teaching Hospital. Investigation of the incident was handed over to officers from the Police of the Czech Republic who were called to the scene," said Magda Václavíková, the press spokesperson for the Olomouc Police.

According to the police, therefore, this incident was not an assault, but a brawl between two people. As the tabloid itself reported, the hockey player is 188 cm tall, weights 95 kg, and is in top physical condition.

The view of any Romani people who allegedly participated in this conflict is not described in the article. The editors were simply uninterested in their testimony. The tabloid's job is not to file an objective report, but to incite people against the Romani minority in general by publishing half-truths and lies. This they have achieved.

People who would now like to hold an anti-Romani demonstration in Prostějov are flocking together on Facebook. They were originally intending to target the Romani people who were supposedly involved in the brawl, but Robert Jedlička himself wrote into their Facebook page to say the following to the organizers:

"I thank you all very much for the support you have expressed for me. I appreciate it very much, but I don't want to fan the flames here. Today's article in Večerník is a great disappointment to me, because it was just supposed to have been an informative announcement for hockey fans. Unfortunately, it became a sensationalized front-page story where they used photographs without my permission. I definitely had no interest in such coverage. Today I am glad that nothing more serious happened either to my girlfriend or to me. I would like everything to calm down and I hereby ask you all not to connect my name with any protest marches or similar actions. Thanks."

The organizers still intend to turn out against Romani people at some other time. They are not concerned about the hockey player and his opinion, they just want to take their own aggression out on someone else.

This is yet another sad case in which the media, thanks to its own smallness, has become a direct broadcaster of hatred against the Romani minority. This format of tendentious reporting has long been familiar to us, and not only in the tabloids. The Prostějovský Večerník has not invented anything new here.

Robert Jedlička deserves everyone's thanks for his reasonable approach to the matter.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 770x

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Aktuality, Bezpečnost, Demonstrace, Násilí, Olomouc, Osobnosti, Shromažďování, Bulvár, Romové, Czech republic, Ice Hockey, news, Roma



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