Czech extremist party's campaign rally in Prague legally blocked by counter-event
The "Freedom and Direct Democracy Movement of Tomio Okamura" (SPD) had been telling its followers to come to Náměstí Míru in Prague on 2 October for a campaign rally ahead of this weekend's elections. As it turns out, they were not able to assemble there.
The adherents of Okamura had failed to announce to the local authorities, as required by law, that they would be holding a public assembly, and anti-racist initiatives instead announced a public assembly at that same place and time called "Prague against the SPD: Nationalism-Free Jamboree" (Praha proti SPD: Veselice bez nacionalismu). "We have long taken a stand against the SPD's policies, the candidates running for that party incite hatred against people of other nationalities, other sexual orientations, or other religious faiths, for example," Filip Hausknecht, a co-organizer of the Nationalism-Free Jamboree, told news server Lidovky.cz.
"We want to show that there will be no place for the SPD in Prague." Hausknecht said. On 2 October the Prague cell of the SPD movement therefore posted to its own Facebook event about its campaign rally, called the "People's Jamboree SPD" (Lidová veselice SPD), that "Today's event has been cancelled due to security concerns !!!!!"
"Thousands of fascists from Antifa [sic] are meant to come to the square. We cannot risk it," the Prague SPD cell posted.
"We thank you for your understanding," the party told its voters. Okamura's followers decided to cancel the rally just a few hours before they had originally hoped it would begin, Lidovky.cz reports.
Vítězslav Novák, chair of the SPD movement's Prague cell, told the news server on Monday, 1 October: "I don't see any reason to cancel our event so that Antifa and those extremists will benefit. We have duly prepared and duly contracted the People's Jamboree SPD."
Novák was mistaken - according to the law on assembly, the public assembly that had been properly announced to local authorities by the anti-racists took precedence over any event involving private leasing of the space. While the SPD had indeed contracted to lease space on the square from the Prague 2 Municipal Department, it never announced to local authorities that its event was also a public assembly and not a private gathering.
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