Czech chair of National Council of People Living with Disabilities lets himself be used to promote populist, xenophobic party
The chair of the National Council of People Living with Disabilities, Václav Krása, who is also a former MP for the Civic Democrats (ODS) and Freedom Union (Unie svobody) parties, has contributed to designing the program for the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party for the local elections in Prague and calls the party worthy of support. Krása sees no problem in collaborating with a party that disseminates disinformation and incites hatred in society.
Krása has said he takes no interest in the party's politics. His photo was published in the SPD's bulletin and has been shared on social networks.
After the party published the promotional material online, people began to express their annoyance with it through social networks. Krása, however, is defending himself by saying he merely responded to a request from the party's Prague manager.
"The Prague manager of the SPD contacted me with a request to augment their electoral program to include the issue of people living with disabilities. I did that, and that is why I said the program is good. If any other party had contacted me I would have done the same for them," he told news server Romea.cz.
The fact that the the chair of the SPD, Tomio Okamura, has repeatedly doubted the suffering of Holocaust victims who are Romani is something Krása considers irrelevant. "My collaboration on the program for Prague is not about the SPD's political program, but just about factual matters affecting people living with disabilities," Krása said.
The fact that the SPD is mentioned as a populist, xenophobic party in the most recent quarterly report about extremism by the Czech Interior Ministry is not something Krása considers a problem. "I don't know the extremism report. It's not part of my activity, I don't have the time to be involved with that," he said.
The National Council of People Living with Disabilities chair says he is also not interested in the SPD's other opinions, such as their repeated calls for the Czech Republic to leave the EU. The National Council itself is a recipient of EU funds, however.
"I am neither a fan nor a member of the SPD and I am not running for them as a candidate, so I do not discuss politics with them. They just wanted to augment their electoral program with material about the issue of people living with disabilities, and that is why I added various points to it for them, " the chair reiterated for news server Romea.cz.
The Czech Interior Ministry's Department of Security Policy and Crime Prevention also mentions the SPD in its annual report on extremism for 2017. "The SPD movement is not, from the perspective of the definition used by the Interior Ministry, an extremist entity. However, it chooses similar subject matter as the extreme right and not infrequently takes up opinions about those topics that are similar to the extreme right. In some cases the remarks made by those who represent the SPD are even more radical than the remarks made by extremist, right-wing parties in the traditional sense," reads a draft of the 2017 report that has not yet been adopted by the Government.
The annual report goes on to find that Okamura's use of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim remarks last year were not the first time he has abused xenophobic rhetoric. Previously, when anti-Romani sentiment was high in the country (2011-2013) he deviated into antigypsyist statements.
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