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October 29, 2020

 

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Czech commentator expected stronger condemnation by politicians of the racist reactions to the worst arson attack since 1990

21.8.2020 16:31
Racist commentaries were posted beneath a news item on mainstream news server Novinky.cz on 8 August 2020 about a tragic incident in  Bohumín, Czech Republic, where 11 people, three of them children, died as the result of arson committed on the 11th floor of a prefabricated apartment building.(Collage:  Romea.cz)
Racist commentaries were posted beneath a news item on mainstream news server Novinky.cz on 8 August 2020 about a tragic incident in Bohumín, Czech Republic, where 11 people, three of them children, died as the result of arson committed on the 11th floor of a prefabricated apartment building.(Collage: Romea.cz)

Jindřich Šídlo, a commentator for Czech news server Seznam Zprávy, says he was not surprised by the racist reactions to the recent apartment fire in Bohumín that cost the lives of 11 people, three of whom were children. He discussed racism in Czech society during an interview for Czech Radio Plus.

"I think the correct reaction was that of Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), who said police would be investigating one abominable article in particular. While he doesn't have the right to instruct that, it showed an effort being made. I think the police are already addressing it," he said when asked what he thinks of the reactions to the arson and the racist article about it published by the fringe newspaper "Vlastenecké noviny".

The commentator added that generally, he would have expected stronger condemnation of the situation from Czech politicians: "I already have thick skin, though, I don't expect much anymore. When 2 August, European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, wasn't considered worth comemmorating by the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic, and basically by most politicians, then I didn't even really have a reason to be disappointed [by their ignoring the racist response to Bohumín]."

Šídlo also recalled some of the racist remarks made by Czech President Miloš Zeman about Romani people and the doubts cast on the Holocaust and its Romani victims by one of the vice-chairs of the lower house, Czech MP Tomio Okamura ("Freedom and Direct Democracy"). In association with the 2 August anniversary, he also recalled the scandal of the industrial pig farm at Lety u Písku, which has been removed from the site of a former concentration camp for Romani people there 25 years after the media first raised the issue.

"We made it to that point because of that remark by Andrej Babiš: 'Whoever didn't work, bam! - ended up there'," he quoted the words of then-Finance Minister Babiš (ANO). The PM and head of the ANO movement, according to Šídlo, fortunately quickly realized the scandalous nature of his remarks and began to systematically work on removing the farm as a symbolic gesture.

fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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arson attack, Bohumín, Politics, Racism



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