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October 25, 2021



Commentary: Czechs realize "anti-Gypsy" law - stricter than during totalitarian rule - applies to them too

9.10.2016 18:20
Ivana Řápková (PHOTO: Gavriela2, Wikimedia Commons)
Ivana Řápková (PHOTO: Gavriela2, Wikimedia Commons)

As of 1 October an amendment to the law on misdemeanors has taken effect in the Czech Republic. Each municipality will now have to publish a decree listing the kind of behavior that qualifies as disrupting nighttime quiet.

Until now it has been enough for the organizers of events taking place at night to ask municipal administrations for exceptions to the nighttime quiet rule. The list of events that constitute disruptions will have to be newly approved by the municipal assemblies.

Online discussion of the law has stirred up quite a melee. People, it seems, have very short memories.

According to the amendment, loud events will not be able to take place after 22:00 unless they have been specifically mentioned in these decrees as allowed. Those who disrupt nighttime quiet can be fined as much as CZK 10 000 (EUR 370), for example.

Should the same individual repeat the same misdemeanor, the fine can increase to CZK 15 000 (EUR 555). Other possible sanctions include confiscation of property, prohibition of business activity, prohibition of residency, or just being given a warning.

"We didn't even have these kinds of interdictions during totalitarianism," one reader posted to Facebook when commenting on an article on the law posted by news server Č Another Facebook discusser remarked angrily:  "This is an absolutely absurd measure by our socialist/oligarch Government."

Others have asked variations on the question of "Which idiot is responsible for this?". Since memories are so short, we will refresh them.

In 2011, anti-Romani sentiment was being whipped up by some politicians here and the media were in full swing with that messaging. Precisely at that moment, Ivana Řápková, the former mayor of Chomutov arrived on the scene as an MP for the center-right Civic Democratic Party (ODS) with her demand to toughen the punishments for misdemeanors.

She proposed changing the law on misdemeanors by making it possible, for example, to ban an individual from residing in a municipality for up to one year if that person commits some types of misdemeanors and is not a permanent resident of that place, and she also proposed a law designating nighttime quiet as lasting from 22:00 until 06:00, etc. All of that was presented to voters as an "anti-Gypsy" law.

People crowed with enthusiasm over the idea. All one has to do is look at the discussions online that took place every time an interview with the MP was published.

"I'm a fan of this lady, if all of the local politicians and mayors would act like her, clear rules would be in place," one of the many comments praising the law said. 
Another writes:  "I must say that I absolutely agree with her on all of the points that are the subject of this article."

We could quote many more examples of agreement. People were crowing because they foolishly believed this law would not apply to them.

Their understanding was that the law was supposed to just apply to those "gypsies". When "Mr Lakatoš" holds a party, a pall will be cast over it, but "Mr Novák" can yell over his beer until morning - the village will authorize that.

Today the law has been brought to its logical conclusion - oops! Isn't this what all of you angry online discussers, together with Ms Řápková, wanted?

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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