Czech academics sign petition against xenophobia
Scientists and other staffers of the Czech Republic's academic and research institutions have signed a petition against the growth of xenophobic sentiment in Czech society. They are also disturbed by extremist group activity which, in their view, is not being sufficiently counterbalanced.
Their challenge, entitled Academics against Fear and Indifference, was published online today. More than 400 researchers and university staff have signed it.
The petition considers one of the greatest dangers facing Czechs in the context of the current immigration crisis to be the radicalization of society through fear. The aim of the petition is not to minimize the actual risks resulting from immigration, nor is it to agitate for specific steps to be taken in relation to refugees.
The document does, however, thoroughly protest the way in which ethnic and religious intolerance are being nourished and generally tolerated in the Czech Republic. The petition says immigrants are being discussed as if they were parasites or pests rolling into the country to commit murder and rape or to suck the welfare system dry, and Muslims are being tarred with the same brush as terrorists irrespective of their actual opinions.
"I am of the opinion that an absolute hysteria about the possibility that an enormous barrage of refugees might come to our country is running rampant here. There are no indications that such a barrage is about to occur. I believe we must first consider the element of solidarity, because when people left our country en masse in 1968 after the occupation by the Soviet Army, people received them on the outside," Helena Illnerová, a biochemist and past president of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (AV ČR) who supports the petition, told the Czech News Agency.
Václav Hořejší, director of the AV ČR's Institute of Molecular Genetics, has also signed the petition. "I am really troubled by what is happening here - this exacerbated hysteria against Muslims and refugees. I am almost ashamed of how this nation is succumbing to hysteria to such a great extent," he told the Czech News Agency.
The academics are calling on politicians to take their actual options into consideration with respect to refugee reception, not the fickle moods of public opinion. They are calling on the media to report on this and other issues truthfully and not to disseminate artificial panic and sensationalism, and they are calling on the public to be careful in their judgments and not allow themselves to be manipulated.
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