Czech Interior Minister: Islamophobic populists using same methods as ultra-right
The Czech Interior Ministry anticipates that anti-immigration and populist Islamophobic organizations will increase their activities and that their themes will be more actively taken up by "traditional right-wing extremists". The ministry's predictions are part of its report on the development of extremism during the second quarter of this year.
The ministry says the ultra-right scene is stagnating and remains significantly fragmented. This reportedly can be attributed to competition from populist groups object to immigration and the Muslim community.
Islamophobic groups are distancing themselves from uniting with the ultra-right, according to the ministry, but their "radical political demands and proposals and their methods of mobilizing sympathizers are practically indistinguishable from displays by the ultra-right". "There has also been an evident effort by various anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and populist-oriented entities to create coalitions or partnerships," the ministry reports.
The ministry's report says the "Anti-Islam Bloc", which splintered away from the circle of people around the "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" initiative, has been communicating with the "Dawn of Direct Democracy" party (Úsvit), the National Democracy organization, and Czech MP Tomio Okamura. In Prague, one of the most visible demonstrations against immigration was held on 1 July.
Approximately 700 people attended that gathering, some of whom brought mock-ups of gallows with them. Two more such demonstrations were held in Prague on 18 July.
"Revolutionary Cells" responding to police raid with arson
The ministry says the Islamophobes have mobilized the extreme left to convene counter-demonstrations of these events. Some on the ultra-left scene, moreover, have responded to the arrest and indictment of several people in April who, according to police, planned, as left-wing extremists in the "Network of Revolutionary Cells" ("Síti revolučních buněk"), to attack a freight train transporting military materiel.
After the April police raid, five arson attacks were committed on police property for which the Network has claimed responsibility. Those who espouse these attacks, according to the report, call them a display of solidarity, or rather, an expression of support for the anarchists who have been charged.
Despite this relatively high number of attacks, however, the Network is a rather isolated phenomenon which has not gained any more marked support from the anarchist movement, according to the ministry. It reports about its actions through the Internet.
The Network took responsibility, for example, for an incident on 15 May when a police car was set on fire in front of the station on Hostivařská Street in Prague. "After the police implemented their raid, a total of six arson attacks occurred which various branches of the Network of Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility for. Most of them targeted property belonging to the Police of the Czech Republic," the ministerial report says.
The ultra-left is doing its best, according to the report, to cast doubt through the media and online about the criminal proceedings underway, calling them "groundless" repression of the anarchist movement. By so doing, they are responding "in a way that is de facto very similar to that of the neo-Nazi scene's response to criminal proceedings against its activists from 2009-2010," the report says.
After the April raid, police charged a total of six people - three with planning a terrorist attack, two with failure to prevent a felony, and one with unpermitted arms possession for allegedly storing weapons of mass destruction in an apartment. According to previous media reports, the left-wing extremists charged were members of the Network of Revolutionary Cells.
Since at least last September they are said to have been planning a Molotov cocktail attack on a freight train transporting military materiel on the main rail line between Plzeň and Prague somewhere along the Radotín - Beroun section. The Network has also sent statements to the Czech News Agency claiming that "the Revolutionary Cells are continuing their struggle".
"It can be anticipated that the ultra-left will continue its actions and protests in response to the criminal proceedings against the activists connected with the Network of Revolutionary Cells," the ministry reports.
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