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Aleš Brichta releases racist song, police are reviewing the lyrics

Prague, 17.7.2009 10:53, (ROMEA)

On his newest album “Deratizer” (The Exterminator) Aleš Brichta has published lyrics in which he proposes the extermination of the Roma. Experts contacted by the Romea.cz web server say Brichta, who makes no secret of his right-wing affiliation, has crossed the line with these racist lyrics and may have even broken the law.

The title song of “Deratizer”, which has been on sale since Saturday 27 June 2009, includes racist lyrics against the Roma, in addition to criticism of politicians. Czech Television has reported that police are reviewing the lyrics, apparently in order to determine whether a crime has been committed.

Politicians making fools of us all/Gypsies stealing tires in the street/this should be handled by/an exterminator

"The lyrics to the song ‘Deratizer’ are unambiguously racist and may meet the definition of the crime of defamation against members of a nation, ethnic group, race or creed, as well as the crime of inciting hatred toward a group or the suppression of rights and freedoms,” a lawyer from the In Iustitia NGO told Romea.cz. "Anyone who consciously broadcasts this piece may also be committing the same crimes as the composer and performer."

The album cover also gives an anti-Roma impression. An exterminator is depicted on Charles Bridge behind a young man who is running while holding a car radio and a purse. The running figure is obviously depicted as of Roma origin.

Brichta refutes this interpretation, saying the artist based the drawing on a figure from Arabian fairytales. Another Rom is depicted as having stolen a tire. Brichta says similar drawings have been appearing in comics since before 1989

"I am definitely of the opinion that this plays to xenophobic prejudices against the entire Roma minority,” extremism expert Miroslav Mareš told Czech Television. In a review for the web server Musicserver.cz, Petr Bláha writes: "We should not entertain any false hopes here, he wrote his best lyrics when he was in Arakain and since then they have noticeably gone downhill, but I never noted any extremist tendencies in his work until now.”

Brichta has defended himself against the charge of racism. "The lyrics are aimed at politicians who are not addressing the growing problems in our society. I do not understand why someone is attacking four lines out of the whole album,” he said to ČTK yesterday.

Music critic Blaha writes: "Yes, political topics are mentioned, but while rockers criticize politics all the time, it is not usual for them to call for racial purges… Aleš Brichta has crossed all social lines, and however the lyrics were intended, they are fundamentally bad. Human society has matured to a phase where even children know that theft is committed not only by people of Roma origin, but also by white people. Does this college-educated rocker not know that?"

Music commentator Petr Korál also takes exception to some of Brichta’s lyrics on the new album, but does not consider Brichta to hold racist opinions. "I know Aleš, so I know the verses to ‘Deratizer’ are not intended as a primitive promotion of a blanket, forced solution to the problem of 'inadaptable citizens', but I would not be surprised if perhaps the Workers’ Party tried to misuse the slogan in their election campaign," he warns in his review.

On the other hand, music commentator František Kováč praises the song. "As far as the individual songs go, one of my clear favorites is the opening ‘Deratizer’, which is musically very intense… and includes uncompromising lyrics, the intentional naiveté of which precisely corresponds to the current sociopolitical powerlessness of most of society,” Kováč writes in his review. As evidence of Brichta’s social sensitivity, Kováč refers to “Song for a White Cane”, which deals with a blind Roma boy.

In a discussion on his official web page, Aleš Brichta commented on the report on the racist lyrics prepared by Richard Samko for Czech Television as follows: "That dark-skinned reporter recorded an interview with me, we spoke for about 10 minutes (the whole piece ended up a minute and a half long, so we see how they edit it, anything can be proven this way, it has to do with their intention, what they want to do with it).” In the Czech Television report, Brichta makes an obvious reference to the Roma when he asks the “dark-skinned” reporter: “Do you think people in this society don’t know who steals here?”

The album “Deratizer” by Aleš Brichta and his group, the ABband, was released at the end of June. Given the problems with pirated copies, the group decided to issue this, their third album, in a paper sleeve for the accessible price of only CZK 69.

Brichta was one of the founding members of the famous metal group Arakain, which he left seven years ago. He has recorded many albums during his solo career: “Růže pro Algernon” (A Rose for Algernon), “Ráno ve dveřích Armády spásy” (Morning at the Doors of the Salvation Army), “Hledač pokladů” (Treasure Seeker), “American Bull” and “Anděl posledního soudu” (The Angel of the Last Judgment). He is currently performing with the group ABband. This year the 50-year-old Brichta is organizing a huge concert for his jubilee birthday at the Tesla Arena in Prague, which will include performances on 9 August by Karel Gott, Petr Janda, Kamil Střihavka and musicians from the projects Zemětřesení (Earthquake) and Hattrick.

The actress Zdena Studenková has also recently made a controversial statement about the Roma. In Reflex magazine she describes an experience from her childhood in which she sat on the same bench as a Roma girl who had lice: "Today whoever talks about the Roma, who are 90 % of the dregs of society, is just pretending to be a humanist.”

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, ČT, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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