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June 19, 2018
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Czech film director supports fundraising drive "THEY WANT TO GAS THEM, WE WANT TO SEND THEM TO SCHOOL!"

1.12.2017 8:31
Czech film director Jan Hřebejk (PHOTO: Jan Mihaliček)
Czech film director Jan Hřebejk (PHOTO: Jan Mihaliček)

The ROMEA organization and others, as well as many public figures, have decided to respond to the current wave of hate and racism that is spreading through the Czech Republic. Together they are joining the fundraising drive for the Roma Scholarship Program, which is supporting 86 students from all over the Czech Republic during this school year.

Some of the funds now being raised will also support the children, irrespecive of nationality, attending a Primary School in Teplice that was recently attacked online. The fundraising drive was initiated by sociologist Ivan Gabal and has been supported by Czech Public Defender of Rights Anna Šabatová, the sociologist Fedor Gál, and the chair of the Czech Helsinki Committee, Táňa Fischerová.


Film director Jan Hřebejk has also decided to support the fundraising drive. News server has interviewed him here:

Q: Why did you decide to support our challenge?

A: I have joined this challenge because, to be absolutely sincere, I have a feeling of guilt. I believe one must rationally work against certain prejudices and mainly against fears and frenzies of this kind, and I took this as a call to demonstrate a certain kind of solidarity, a certain rationality, a certain humanity - but mainly, I was ashamed to read those remarks on Facebook.

Q: What would you like to say to the school in Teplice?

A: Certainly I hope that they will never again be subjected to such hatred and stupidity. I believe this type of Internet hate is cowardice. I do not believe anybody is going to go there and actually be capable of harming anyone, but they should take this with detachment, somehow. Forgive us. I didn't write those remarks, but forgive the idiots who did.

Q: What has to change in society for such things not to happen?

A: I believe the key to this is fear, and that fear flows from a certain lack of familiarity. You all know what it's like - you can arrive in a city that is the kindest and safest in the world, but if you don't know it there, you will be a bit afraid of getting lost. One is afraid in the forest at night, even if nothing there is dangerous. We all have to get to know each other and ourselves, we must overcome all of this - the irrationality, maybe even the way we were raised, our bad traits - through rationality and openness. I believe we must combat this fear through openness, we must fight our own fear.

Q: What message do you have for the students in our scholarship program?

A: I really hope the studies you are attending now will lead to your being happier, and once others see you, I hope that both we gadje [non-Roma] and your fellow Roma will say to themselves:  "That person is a badass".

Monika Mihaličková, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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