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Czech demonstrations confirm the radicalization of society, experts believe

9.2.2016 22:30
The
The "Movement for Our Culture and a Safe Country" and the extremist National Democracy movement convened a protest march on 6 February 2016 in Prague against what they called the "anti-national policy of the Government", "illegal immigration", and "restrictions on democratic freedoms". The men in yellow vests are organizers of the protest. (PHOTO: Jana Platichová, Romea.cz)

Saturday's demonstrations about migration confirmed radicalizing trends and are a reflection of the distribution of various moods in Czech society with respect to the migration issue. They also demonstrated the growing aggression, hatred, and violence taking place here at an interpersonal level.

Experts contacted for their opinions by the Czech News Agency all agreed with those conclusions. They also did not rule out the possibility that the situation might deteriorate further in future.

During Saturday's demonstrations in Prague there were several scuffles between the opponents and proponents of receiving refugees. The most serious incident was the attack on the Klinika Social Center, where, among other things, a collection was underway of clothing to donate to refugees.

Unidentified attackers allegedly threw cobblestones and flares at the display window of the Klinika building. According to Miroslav Mareš, an expert on extremism at Brno's Masaryk University, there are now convinced "hard cores" of the proponents of various opinions on how to address the migration crisis that have arisen in the country and it is possible there will be a further escalation of violence.

"I am of the opinion that Saturday's events are a confirmation of the radicalizing trends to date and reflect the distribution of various moods in society," he said today when asked for his opinion. According to attorney Klára Kalibová, who was also contacted, Czech society has been split this way on various issues for a long time now.

She reminded the Czech News Agency of the attack perpetrated last week against a citizen of Syria who ended up in hospital with a stab wound to his abdomen. "Saturday was an illustration of what has been going on in this society for the last year and a half," said the attorney, whose In IUSTITIA organization is involved with the issues of extremism and hate violence.

"Saturday first and foremost was an indication of the growing interpersonal aggression, hatred and violence here, and not just in the context of the refugee crisis. The lion's share of responsibility for this lies not just with some media outlets and politicians, but with the overall cultural and societal developments of recent years," said David Lebeda, chair of the Imperativ civic association, which is especially involved in education and the prevention of extremism and hate crimes.

According to Kalibová, it is now important that the police investigate the incidents linked with the attack on the foreign national and the attack on the social center and find the perpetrators. "The prosecution of the perpetrators must be taken seriously as an absolute necessity," she emphasized.

Among experts there are different opinions on what the cause of these problems is and who is responsible for the current situation. "I see the main cause as being our turning away from ethical and moral values," Lebeda said.

Mareš believes responsibility lies with the citizens of European countries, including the Czech Republic, with intellectual elites, with media elites, and with political representatives at both domestic and European level. For her part, Kalibová is of the opinion that a big part of the blame lies with the media, which have not been reporting objectively on the refugee crisis.

According to Mareš, there is no short-term solution for this situation. "In the long term it is necessary to solve these problems with these migration issues and to make these cultural and national identities more acceptable to the majority population," Mareš said.

Lebeda believes the country must resolve its problems with economic migrants and also improve the education of children on these issues. He also believes there should be strict prosecutions of illegal behavior related to extremism and hate crime on both wings of the extremist spectrum. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Demonstrace, Extremism, Islamofobie, Neo-Nazism, Policie, Soužití



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