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March 20, 2018
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Czech Interior Ministry's quarterly report on extremism: Politicians exploited fears of immigration

19.2.2018 8:19

The Czech Interior Ministry's report on extremism for the final quarter of 2017 says a total of 54 events organized by extremists took place last year in the Czech Republic. Of those, 47 were organized by left-wing extremist entities, 20 events more than compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

The report notes the failure of the Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS) and National Democracy (ND) to be elected to the lower house during the October elections. "The parliamentary elections ended in failure for other anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim entities that came into being and underwent a dynamic development during the time of the so-called refugee crisis," the report relates.

"Through the influence of their disputes with each other, which were frequently addressed through online social networks, the impression given by these entities was that they were unclear and unreliable," the report says. The politician Tomio Okamura and his "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement scored the most points from the subjects of immigration and Islam and successfully entered the lower house.

African man assaulted, threats against Jews

The ministry recapitulates the background to the attack committed against an African man on a Prague tram at the beginning of November in which the suspects are supporters of the hard core of Olomouc football fans. It also mentions the participation of some Czech neo-Nazis in the "Independence March" in Warsaw, Poland.

The report also discusses an anonymous antisemitic communication addressed to Prague City Hall that made threats against Jewish people living in the Czech Republic and doubted the Holocaust; it also reviews, the year-long prison sentence, suspended for two years, that was handed down against the chair of the ND, Adam B. Bartoš, for his antisemitic action in Polná. Of the events organized by anarchists, the report mentions a protest "Against Capitalism, Sexism and Racism" on 17 November.

The demonstration against the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic, nationalist faction of the European Parliament called the "Europe of Nations and Freedom" who were hosted by Okamura's SPD in Prague, is mentioned by the report, which also discusses interest in the Phoenix scandal and the case of the Russian anarchist Ševcov. During the fourth quarter internal disputes inside of the National Militia organization came to a head and led to the activist group dividing into two, with a new group calling itself the "Territorial Army" (Zemská domobrana) being established.

Alternative media in symbiosis with extremists

"The so-called alternative media functioned in a mutually advantageous symbiosis with extremist entities. These media outlets either produced or spread reports that were likely to be seized upon by extremists or which, in some cases, directly created room for extremists to speak. Frequently with such outlets it is not apparent who their owners are, who  their editors are, who finances them, and what their sources are," the report says.

Among the main subjects intended for consumption by the xenophobically-oriented public were the dangers allegedly posed by immigrants and Muslims, accompanied by allegations that the national governments or the European Union were either downplaying such a danger, underestimating it, or directly concealing information that was allegedly "solid". The case of the photograph of a first-grade class at a primary school in Teplice featuring mostly children of color was also covered by these media, as was the stripping of votes from the Ortel band during the "Czech Nightingale" popular music survey and the trial of Bartoš described above.

The report also states that a total of 153 felonies with an extremist subtext were recorded by the ministry during all of 2017. Most frequently these were connected with promoting and supporting movements aiming to suppress human rights.

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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