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Czech MP to host ultra-right leaders from all over Europe, protests anticipated

14.12.2017 16:34
Czech MP Tomio Okamura became chair of the lower house in 2017 and is infamous for his antigypsyism, including denying the Romani Holocaust. (Collage:  Romea.cz)
Czech MP Tomio Okamura became chair of the lower house in 2017 and is infamous for his antigypsyism, including denying the Romani Holocaust. (Collage: Romea.cz)

In Prague on Saturday, 16 December a conference will be held of parties from around Europe that are anti-EU, anti-immigrant and ultra-right and are associated in the "Europe of Nations and Freedom" (ENF) group at the European Parliament (EP). Czech MP Tomio Okamura, whose "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement is a member of the ENF, will make an appearance at the conference, as will the chair of the ENF, MEP Marine Le Pen of France's Front National, along with the Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

The meeting of radical ultra-right politicians is perceived by several Czech civic initiatives to be dangerous, and they are preparing to peacefully protest against it. As those attending the conference will begin arriving tomorrow (Friday), the "No to Racism" Initiative (Iniciativa Ne rasismu), the queer anarchist group QAS, the Christian feminist ecumenical group RFK, and Socialist Solidarity are convening a demonstration on the Old Town Square in Prague against them tomorrow.

On Saturday, the day of the ultra-right  conference, those groups are planning to blockade the site where it will be held in Prague's Chodov neighborhood beginning at 8 AM in front of the National Archive. A separate demonstration by the Anti-Hate Speech Initiative (Proti projevům nenávisti), which has been organized by, among others, the human rights activist Jan Cemper, has been convened for Saturday afternoon (the Facebook event is here).

The organizers of the Saturday afternoon demonstration are counting on approximately 1 000 people attending and emphasize that their event will be strictly nonviolent. "Our event will be strictly nonviolent. Our aim is to demonstrate together to those attending the conference that the Czech Republic is not a paradise for populists and xenophobes," Cemper said.

In order to arrange for a genuinely calm protest, Cemper said he has been collaborating with the police on the security arrangements. Police spokesperson Tomáš Hulan said the police are planning the corresponding security measures in connection with the conference.

"We will deploy several dozen police officers from the anti-conflict team, the riot police, the traffic police, and the detective services of the criminal police as part of those measures," Hulan said. Protesters are being asked by the organizers to draw attention to themselves primarily by using drums, whistles, or vuvuzelas.

Eminent figures such as Fedor Gál or the former Czech ambassador to France, Petr Janyška, will also appear at the demonstration. "The scandal is that politicians of this sort have never met like this in Prague," Janyška told the Czech daily Lidové noviny.

"Prague has been a city that has always been open and tolerant. It is the city of Masaryk, who received both exiles from Russia after 1917 and exiles from Germany here during the 1930s. Prague has always been tolerant, intolerance has no place here," the former ambassador said.

Saturday afternoon's assembly is also being supported by seven other associations, including the organizers of the spring protest called "Why? Because!"

Besides Le Pen, Wilders and Okamura - who after making big electoral gains and negotiating with other politicians has become vice-chair of the Czech Chamber of Deputies - there will be appearances at the Prague conference by a representative of the Austrian ultra-right FPÖ party, the MEP Georg Mayer, and by populists from Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy and Poland. According to the conference program, the motto of which is "For a Europe of Sovereign Nations", those attending will discuss the future of Europe.

Marine Le Pen is the daughter of the founder of the Front National in France, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a convicted Holocaust denier who has made light of the Nazi gas chambers, and she has visited the Czech Republic before and addressed the lower house at Okamura's invitation. At Saturday's meeting, the politicians allegedly "will discuss a new model of European collaboration - the closest possible cooperation among sovereign countries without the dictate of Brussels, on the basis of mutual advantage," Okamura told news server Aktuálně.cz.

The event will be accompanied by security measures because of Wilders, who as the chair of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands is infamous for his anti-Islamic rhetoric, and Islamist radicals have publicly called for his death. "He will be protected by police on the territory of the Czech Republic on the basis of a request from the Royal Dutch Police and in coordination with them, as they requested such protection through a note to the Foreign Affairs Ministry," police spokesperson Eva Kropáčová told Lidové noviny. 

Die, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Evropa, Konference, Le Pen Marine, nationalism



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