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March 21, 2018
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Czech Justice Minister threatens to resign if SPD party joins the Government, calls it fascist, they plan to sue

21.2.2018 20:49
Robert Pelikán, Justice Minister of the Czech Republic (FOTO: EU2016 NL, WikiMedia Commons)
Robert Pelikán, Justice Minister of the Czech Republic (FOTO: EU2016 NL, WikiMedia Commons)

Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán (ANO) absolutely disagrees with the program of the SPD movement and considers the party, chaired by Czech MP Tomio Okamura, to be fascist. He said he is prepared to resign if SPD joins the Government.

"For me it is unacceptable to be in a Government that will rely on the SPD in any way, for the simple reason that they would not just support us for the hell of it, but would want something in exchange," Pelikán said in an interview for news server Aktuálně.cz. Czech MEP Pavel Telička expressed agreement with the minister, tweeting the message "I am joining your designation of the SPD, see you in court?"

Okamura had responded to the minister calling the party fascist with a press release announcing he will file a criminal complaint in the matter. He claimed his lawyers are just researching their options regarding the minister's statement for now.

The SPD also stated that such declarations are usually made by "incompetent" ministers who are unable to deal with their own ministries. "The purpose of declarations like that of Minister Pelikán is primarily to harm the ANO movement and prevent a constructive, meaningful negotiation about forming the new Government," the SPD's press release says.

Pelikán has newly been tasked with the human rights agenda in the Czech Government and has followed, for example, the negotiations on the purchase of the pig farm located on a Romani genocide site at Lety. In his view it is important that politicians and state representatives not make light of xenophobic statements or repeated denials of the Holocaust.

The Justice Minister agrees that it is necessary to immediately intervene against standpoints such as the ones that have been recently expressed by the SPD, to respond to them and to condemn them. "The more I become involved in this, the more it is confirmed to me that this is actually important. The political correctness that is mocked in our country is important - as long as it does not become absurd. Political correctness is nothing other than good breeding and not generalizing some things in such a way that they would harm people who do not deserve to be harmed," he explained in the interview.

Among the biggest deficiencies in the Czech Republic's human rights performance, Pelikán also mentioned a related problem for the Romani minority. "Two-thirds [of  Romani people] are not themselves afflicted by social exclusion, they are our fully-integrated fellow citizens, but because the more visible minority lives in social exclusion, all Roma are the victims of daily discrimination and harassment. They actually have a very difficult life. Even the college graduates among them cannot find a landlord willing to rent to them after months of searching, just because of their skin color," he said.

"We will repeatedly, tirelessly draw attention to the fact that it is actually most of the Romani population that is being unjustifiably labeled this way. I believe that information is unknown to the majority society, people have the feeling that the situation is reversed. We have 250 000 - 300 000 Romani people here overall, which is such a small number that in everyday life a member of the majority population will encounter a Romani person just once or twice in their entire lives. The majority discourse flows from that: 'I know several decent Roma, but most of them are problems'. Just a few will be actually met as a random sample of the population, and that is set against the alleged majority of Roma who are seen on the TV news but who do not actually represent most Roma," the minister said, describing the situation of Romani people who are labeled by society just because they are Romani but who are neither insolvent nor socially excluded.

The Justice Minister said he wants to focus on better solutions for individuals and localities that are socially excluded. He said society should be brought up in such a way as to prevent people from making the unfair generalizations that lead to hatred of minorities.

dm, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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