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Czech-language anti-Roma group on Facebook: Hardcore racism

Prague, 9.11.2009 17:44, (ROMEA)

A Czech-language group instigating hatred against the Roma and calling for their extermination was created several days ago on the Facebook social networking site. The news server Lidovky.cz broke the story today. During the past five days more than 7 000 people have joined the group and police will be investigating their actions. Romea.cz reports that there are many groups on Facebook that are racist and target Roma. Should it be proven that the participants have committed a crime, they face up to two years in prison.

The Facebook group entitled “Every Fan Means One Less Gypsy! Let’s Clean Up the Czech Republic!" (Za 1 fanouška... o 1 cigana míň! Poďme vyčistit ČR!") was created on 4 November. The commentaries posted by the group’s sympathizers are very harsh and racist; there is no administrator to erase any of them, and every contributor can write whatever he or she wants. Discussion participants are calling for the Roma to be shot or for people to take to the streets armed with brass knuckles and nightsticks.

Police will be investigating the existence of this group. "We will focus on it,” Pavla Kopecká, spokesperson for the criminal police, confirmed to Lidovky.cz, warning that Facebook discussions cannot be blocked. "This social networking site is based on a server in the United States of America,” Kopecká explained.

A similar group, “I Don’t Like Gypsies and I’m Not Ashamed” ("Nemám rád/a cikány a nestydím se za to") has more than 4 500 members. The description of the group, which was founded by user Bára Novotná, includes the following text: "Our dear Roma fellow-citizens are real motherf***ers!!" User Jiří Sigmund has written there: "WHITE POWER!!! Send them Adolf Eichmann, push the black beasts into the concentration camps and up the chimneys." Another user has written: "They should all go to the gas!"

Even though police can follow up on the groups’ founders and the authors of the individual contributions and prosecute them under Czech law for promoting racism, the participants are evidently not afraid of prosecution. "This group is operating at the limits of the law, everybody probably is aware of that, but what can the police do to 7 000 people who become members of an association advocating hatred at the click of a mouse?” one participant wrote.

This is not the first case of a racist discussion taking place on Facebook. Kopecká says police have already investigated a group entitled “Final Solution to the Gypsy Question” (“Konečné řešení otázky cikánské”) where similar statements appeared.

Lidovky.cz points out that unlike other internet discussion fora, Facebook makes it easy to determine participants’ identities because most people register with a name and photograph. Moreover, some do not close their profile to the public, so it is not very hard to get to their personal data and contacts.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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