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Czech Interior Ministry says Prague municipality had no way to ban ultra-right activist's event in a public space

5.9.2016 16:13
An imaginary invasion of the Czech Republic by the so-called Islamic State was staged on the afternoon of 21 August 2016 in Prague by devotees of Martin Konvička, an activist who opposes the religion of Islam. (PHOTO:  Czech News Agency)
An imaginary invasion of the Czech Republic by the so-called Islamic State was staged on the afternoon of 21 August 2016 in Prague by devotees of Martin Konvička, an activist who opposes the religion of Islam. (PHOTO: Czech News Agency)

The Czech Interior Ministry has agreed with a local municipality of Prague regarding its response to a recent event convened in public by the Martin Konvička Initiative (IMK). The ministry found that while there were no legal reasons to ban the event, the announced demonstration should have drawn the attention of the local authority.

Those are the results of the finding issued by the ministry, which the Czech News Agency has seen. The IMK caused panic among passers-by on 21 August with an anti-Islam event on the Old Town Square that involved masked men carrying weapons as part of the performance.

The available information about the scenario of the planned event and the person convening it from within the IMK circle should have drawn bureaucrats' attention, the ministry said. "That information might have justified increased attention, an attempt to ascertain additional information about the entire event and its anticipated course, and in communication with the convener and the police, the risks could have been assessed and appropriate measures adopted," the ministry said.

The organizers could have been encouraged, for example, to provide more representation for communication with authorities during the event, or a greater police presence could have been organized. The ministry also said that because the event, called "The Occupation of Prague - Event in Support of Democracy" was planned for the date of 21 August, at first glance seemed like a commemoration of the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia.

The use of props such as a vehicle and weapons did not draw the authorities' attention given the choice of the date. "During the time limit set by law of three working days that the administrative body has during which to deny permission to an announced assembly, it did not become known that this would not be a commemoration of the anniversary of the occupation, which would not have caused any conflict, but that it would be an event taking place along the extremist spectrum by people who have previously demonstrated in a controversial way," states the ministry's finding.

The ministry also writes that the obligation to announce an assembly primarily serves the function of notifying authorities and is not meant to serve the purpose of potentially preliminarily banning an event, as has been confirmed by the jurisprudence of the Supreme Administrative Court. Had the local authority banned the event, the ministry said it believed the municipality would have exposed itself to the risk of a lawsuit that it would have lost.

The IMK event on Sunday, 21 August on the Old Town Square in Prague involved actors driving onto the square dressed as fighters with the so-called Islamic State terrorist organization and firing from weapons that were just props. Prague Police are investigating it as an incident of rioting and have not ruled out filing charges on suspicion of disseminating a hoax.

IMK is planning another event in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy on 11 September, the day that terrorists from the Al-Qaeda group attacked several places in the USA in the year 2001, including the Pentagon and the buildings of the World Trade Center, which collapsed. Those attacks took the lives of almost 3 000 victims.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) first criticized the local authority for not banning the IMK's 21 August event. She later acknowledged that the local authority had no power to do so and declared that she will "personally oversee" the next such event.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Demonstrace, Extremism, Islamophobia, Martin Konvička, Nenávist, Xenophobia



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