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Czech Interior Minister: Today it's a gallows, tomorrow people could be shooting each other

7.7.2015 21:54
Milan Chovanec, Czech Interior Minister, on an anti-immigrant demonstration held in Prague in 2015:
Milan Chovanec, Czech Interior Minister, on an anti-immigrant demonstration held in Prague in 2015: "Gallows have no place in a democracy, the police, as an organ of a democratic state, must be aware of that." (Collage: Romea.cz)

According to the Czech Interior Ministry, the law was broken during last week's demonstration against immigration and Islam in Prague. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec says it will be necessary to change police procedure as a result.  

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka joined his Social Democratic colleague in condemning the displays of hatred. According to Chovanec, the ministry has delivered a written opinion to the police stating that several sections of the law were broken during the event.  

The Interior Minister has not communicated any further details. He did say that it is necessary to make it clear right from the beginning of such behavior that the state will not tolerate it.

"Today it's a gallows, tomorrow they'll throw eggs, then they'll throw bricks and rocks, and then the time might come when people will be shooting each other during these displays," Chovanec said. He has requested the police communicate their standpoint as to why they did not intervene against the hate speech involved.

Participants in the demonstration carried mock-ups of gallows. Officers intervened only against activists who attempted to block the anti-immigration demonstrators from marching to the Office of the Government by sitting on the sidewalk.

Three people ended up at the police station for their civil disobedience. A fourth person was arrested for allegedly assaulting officers who intervened against the other detainees.

Counter-protester Michal Uhl described police brutality being committed during the arrests. His account can be found here.

"We are at the beginning of what is probably a new style of conducting speech by certain entities who want to exploit certain hot topics, frighten the citizens of the Czech Republic, and profit politically. We are clearly telling them that we simply will not allow this, it has no place in a democracy and we will do everything we can to clearly demonstrate our proactive approach from the start," Chovanec said.

The Interior Minister also emphasized that freedom of speech and the right to assembly must not be infringed upon either. For his part the Czech PM has also condemned the recent displays of hatred.

"It is unacceptable for anyone to exploit freedom of speech to disseminate hatred or to make death threats against those who do not share their opinions. That is not what freedom of speech and the right to assembly are intended for. I think it is very important for the police and state prosecutor to pay attention to whether the law is upheld during such assemblies. I want to unequivocally reject the dissemination of any kind of hatred, however motivated, against any groups," he said.  

agw, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Bohuslav Sobotka, Immigration, Milan Chovanec, Xenophobia



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