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Czech Police intervene as extremists, neo-Nazis and religious believers protest Prague Pride parade

13.8.2017 17:35
Czech Police intervening against extremists on 12 August 2017 during the Prague Pride parade celebrating the LGBT community. (PHOTO:  Vít Hassan)
Czech Police intervening against extremists on 12 August 2017 during the Prague Pride parade celebrating the LGBT community. (PHOTO: Vít Hassan)

Prague Pride, the parade celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (LGBT) marched through the center of Prague yesterday afternoon. Several religious believers protested against the event near the statue of St. Václav and approximately 40 extremists and neo-Nazis turned up on a street near part of the march route.

The protest against the LGBT community march, called "No Way for Gay", assembled at the corner of Kozí Street and was organized by the National Regeneration (Národní obroda - NO) group, led by Pavel Matějný, a convicted felon who is infamous for his aggressive participation in anti-Romani demonstrations in the Czech Republic in recent years. He officially ended the assembly at 14:00.

Matějný reportedly received assurances from police that he and those protesting against the Prague Pride parade could remain at the scene under the strict condition that they would not disrupt the march and spark conflict. He is still on parole and reportedly agreed to those terms.

Approximately 40 extremists, homophobes, neo-Nazis and radicals had to be separated by a cordon of riot officers from those participating in the Prague Pride parade. Shortly after the first marchers passed by, the extremists began shouting "Yuck", "Fuckers!", "Pigs!", "Fags Go Home!", "Shitty Faggots!" and whistling at them.

"Gays to the gas chambers!" was another shout that was heard. Antifascists on the scene took a dislike to that and tore a flag from the hands of the homophobic activists that bore the symbol of the "For Our Culture and a Safe Country" group and escaped with it.

Petr Semerák, a member of that movement who is said to be the "right hand man" of the Islamophobe Lucie Hašková, decided to get back the stolen "trophy" and ran off after the antifascist, beginning a tussle over the flag. He was well-seconded by Hašková, who threw a plastic bottle at the anti-fascist.

During the subsequent scrum, Semerák inserted himself into the dispute between the anti-fascist and Hašková and a physical conflict occurred between the activists. Riot police responded, first pacifying Semerák, leading him to a police van and detaining him there.

The same fate awaited the anti-fascist. Several homophobic radicals took a dislike to the police intervention and did their best to reach their arrested comrade, but riot police pacified and detained another of their number, Vlastimil Vach of the NO.

That conflict was followed by several more incidents. Those opposed to the Prague Pride march hit one gay couple with an egg as they walked by.

Somebody from within the parade also threw a banner at the extremists reading "Proud to be a Gay" and a purple ball was thrown their way as well. During the course of half an hour there were several sharp verbal exchanges between both camps.

The anticonflict team and police managed to restrain the clashes between the two groups and the parade did not experience any other incidents. After 3 PM the parade reached the Letná park, where a cultural program followed.

This year's Prague Pride parade was attended by an estimated 35 000 people, including Romani groups. The front of the parade featured four enormous flags - the Czech flag, the European Union flag, the rainbow flag of the LGBT community, and the Romani flag.

Vít Hassan, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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