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Czech MP calls for harassment of Muslims

Prague, 6.1.2015 20:30, (ROMEA)
Tomio Okamura (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)
Tomio Okamura (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)

Czech MP Tomio Okamura, the head of the "Dawn of Direct Democracy" (Úsvit) movement, has used online social networking to urge the public to harass Muslims in the country - for example, by "taking pigs for walks to relieve themselves" near mosques. Okamura told news server that his call was not an incitement to intolerance and claimed to have consulted the text with lawyers before posting it.

Okamura has previously declared that he is not a xenophobe even though he has made more than one controversial remark about foreigners in the Czech Republic and about Romani people. He also paid a visit to Vlastimil Pechanec, who was convicted of the racially motivated murder of a Romani man in the town of Svitavy, while he was still in prison.

On 3 January 2015, Okamura published "instructions for protection from Islam" on Facebook, also signed by Úsvit member Jiří Kobza. In the post, Úsvit advises people to raise dogs and pigs and to take them for walks to relieve themselves near mosques or other places where Muslims congregate.

The post also advises people to lead the homeless to such places. It also advises them not to buy kebabs.

Okamura's post targets immigrants in general. The statement says people should not vote for anyone promising advantages to immigrants.

The Úsvit boss is exploiting current anti-Muslim sentiment among the Czech public which has been enhanced by reports of the violence committed by radicals from the Islamic State movement in the Middle East. Okamura told news server that his instructions were not an incitement to intolerance or to provocation.

"We consulted the text with our attorneys. I don't want to tread on thin ice," he said.

According to legal experts contacted by the Czech News Agency, the post crosses the line of inciting intolerance against minorities. Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democrats) did not not want to comment on Okamura's post.

"I will not comment on any of Mr Okamura's hateful remarks," Dienstbier told the Czech News Agency. Okamura has previously said that foreigners who lose their jobs in the Czech Republic should return to their own countries and should not become "parasites" on the Czech social system.

During its European Parliamentary election campaign, Úsvit used an anti-immigrant image first produced by Swiss nationalists of white sheep kicking a black sheep from their midst. Okamura is also infamous for anti-Romani remarks.

The MP recently stated that the concentration camp at Lety by Písek had merely been a labor camp for people avoiding proper work. Hundreds of Romani people perished there during WWII.

Extremists have a new target - Muslims, not Roma

This most recent remark with which Okamura has decided to identify himself demonstrates that Czech extremists are now turning away from attacking Romani people. The Romani community is becoming less interesting to extremists in the Czech Republic, who are attacking Muslims to a greater degree now.

"This [change of direction by extremists] is good news for the sorely-tested socially excluded localities. Communities with ghettos are still recovering from the series of incidents of unrest that began three years ago with an anti-Romani demonstration in the Šluknov district. This is not just about the north of the country, either," commented the Czech daily Lidové noviny.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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