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Czech historian gets death threats after saying migration is a natural phenomenon

13.1.2017 7:35
Historian Matěj Spurný in the 2017 interview for Týden magazine in the Czech Republic, after which he received death threats.
Historian Matěj Spurný in the 2017 interview for Týden magazine in the Czech Republic, after which he received death threats.

News server reports that Charles University's Faculty of Arts issued a statement on 10 January publicly backing one of its academics, Matěj Spurný, an historian and specialist in modern nationalism and the history of modern European dictatorships. He became the target of death threats and racist abuse on online social networks after giving an interview to Týden magazine about migration at the beginning of January.

In the interview, Spurný said it is impossible to believe the Czech Republic belongs just to those who are ethnically Czech. He emphasized the historical fact that Czech territory has always been home to a diverse mixture of nationalities and said closing the country off to migration would rather result in the extinction of the Czech nation.

Moreover, the historian also asserted that migration generally is a part of the natural way the world runs. The leadership at the Faculty of Arts said they believe the death threats and other aggressive reactions that followed the interview signal a resurgence of the kind of methods that previously accompanied the greatest human tragedy [the Holocaust].

The university understands such threats to constitute an attack on freedom of expression and on the freedom to do research, news server reports. "While we can undertake various historical analyses of the wartime movements of people and their annihilation, or of the postwar deportations of Germans, or of Stalin's terror, or of the various waves of emigration [from Czechoslovakia], it is not possible to allow death threats, or the publication of photographs of Dr. Matěj Spurný's children, or racist abuse to once again be considered 'normal' equivalents of cultivated arguments and opinions, whether they be stances of agreement with an analysis or criticism," Dean Mirjam Friedová and institute director Michal Pullman say in their statement.

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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