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Czech governor's campaign unfortunate,encourages extremists

Usti nad Labem, 3.10.2008 16:32, (ROMEA)

The use by Jiri Sulc (Civic Democrats, ODS), governor of the Usti nad Labem region, north Bohemia, of an ethnic-tinged slogan within his election campaign is unfortunate, as it is likely to encourage radical nationalists in their lash outs at Romanies, the daily Hospodarske noviny writes today.

The author of the article, Miroslav Broz, who is an expert at issues related to poverty and social exclusion in the Czech Republic, refers to the billboards with the slogan ""Work hard, gadji, so that we get better-off!" that Sulc, who seeks re-election in the October regional polls, has had installed in several towns in his region.

"Gadji" is the Romany expression for people who are not of Romany origin.

The billboards' mission is evident. They say "the gypsies" shun work, live on allowances and even "laugh at us, the white gadji," Broz writes.

It would not be surprising if the right-wing extremists were behind the campaign. However, shockingly, the billboards were initiated by Sulc, a regional governor for the senior ruling ODS, Broz points out.

Sulc says he has the billboards made and installed at his own expenses and that the slogan on them only repeats what an anonymous author has written on a wall in the Janov ghetto, Broz writes, referring to a Romany-inhabited housing estate in Litvinov, one of the north Bohemian towns with a strong Romany community.

Sulc did not hesitate to personally visit Janov, photograph the inscription and have its copies installed as billboards in the towns of Usti nad Labem, Litvinov and Most.

Why? He says he wants to point to the abuse of social allowances, Broz writes.

If this is the only aim Sulc pursues, why has he used the ethnic-tinged slogan from Janov? Has it occurred to him that radical nationalists will welcome this kind of wave and benefit from it? Broz asks.

The far-right Workers' Party (DS) already stated on Wednesday that it welcomes the Usti governor's decision to point, within his election campaign, to the problem of unadaptable gypsies in Janov, Broz continues.

The DS has also set an ultimatum for Sulc. Unless he meets DS leaders by Friday, on the next day the DS would send its "protection corps" to Janov to "install order and protection of the local residents in this area, flooded by black crime," Broz writes, citing the DS press release.

The governor, nevertheless, is no simpleton of that sort. He has probably only realised how positively voters react to politicians' displays of hatred towards "gypsies," Broz continues.

"Let's remember the story of the mayor of a north Moravian town, whom his racist statements have catapulted to top political posts," Broz writes.

He is referring to Jiri Cunek, former mayor of Vsetin, who became senator and junior ruling Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) chairman in late 2006 and entered the government as a deputy PM and local development minister in early 2007.

Not even he [Cunek] is the first "pioneer" to apply this principle. As an instrument of modern policy, it was discovered by certain Adolf Hitler 70 years ago. In the squares of many German and Czech towns he had installed posters pointing out that "Jews Are Undesired" and "Jews Are Our Misfortune," Broz writes.

Will similar posters appear in Usti or Janov soon? he asks.

CTK
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Czech republic, Volby



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