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Czech lower house sees tussle over President's claims that "Black Lives Matter" is a "racist" slogan

8.7.2020 9:01
Czech MPs Miroslav Kalousek and Lubomír Volný engaged in a tussle of sorts in the lower house on 7 July 2020 over a sign reading
Czech MPs Miroslav Kalousek and Lubomír Volný engaged in a tussle of sorts in the lower house on 7 July 2020 over a sign reading "All Lives Matter". An Internet meme has been circulating showing a young Black girl holding a sign explaining the meaning of the "Black Lives Matter" slogan, which the "All Lives Matter" slogan is responding to. (Collage: Romea.cz)

Czech MP Lubomír Volný (Jednotní - "Uniform"), who is not part of any particular faction in the lower house, caused some excitement on the floor there yesterday. He proposed that the lower house express agreement with Czech President Zeman's recent remarks that the slogan "Black Lives Matter" being used by protesters in the USA and elsewhere, is a "racist" slogan.

The MP put an English-language sign reading "All Lives Matter" in front of the speaker's podium as he made his remarks. Czech MP Miroslav Kalousek, who leads the TOP 09 MPs in the lower house, then calmly removed the sign from that location more than once as Volný attempted to make his proposal.

"I am not denying anybody the right to an opinion," Kalousek said. In his view, such a sign is not meant to accompany the making of floor proposals.

The situation was calmed by Czech MP Radek Vondráček (ANO), who presides over the Chamber of Deputies, and who said he believed the use of such visual aids is not banned. He called on the members to show each other mutual respect.

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The business of the Chamber of Deputies was interrupted for several minutes by the exchange. The chair of the Tricolor movement, Czech MP Václav Klaus, Jr, whose party is also not part of any faction, then proposed that Kalousek explain to the lower house "which lives do not matter" and what there is about the "All Lives Matter" slogan that is inhumane or racist.

President Zeman had made his remarks at the residence of the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic on the occasion of the celebration of the 244th anniversary of the 4th of July, which is Independence Day in the US. During his remarks, he said he was at the event as an "independent citizen" and "friend" of the USA.

"Speaking in both those roles, I say the slogan 'Black Lives Matter' is racist, because all lives matter," the Czech President declared on that occasion. The Black Lives Matter movement in the US was established seven years ago by three Black women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Elle Hearns, who identify as queer; Hearns, who is a founder of BLM's global network, is a transwoman.

The movement then transformed over the next two years from an Internet phenomenon into a network across the USA with 15 branches that has managed to collabrate with many organizations worldwide; achieving inclusivity is its overriding aim. The absence of any hierarchy and the principle of decentralization - i.e., not having a nationwide headquarters - goes hand in hand with the movement's approach.

A discussion as to whether the "Black Lives Matter" slogan is racist or not is also underway in the USA. An Internet meme is circulating showing a young Black girl holding a sign at a demonstration to explain the slogan.

The signt reads: "We said Black lives matter, never said only Black lives matter. We know all lives matter, we just need your help with #BlackLivesMatter, for Black lives are in danger."

Zdeněk Ryšavý, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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poslanec, prezident, Racism, Sněmovna



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