Czech Neo-Nazis say they want to "enforce the law" - even as they break it
Street patrols by "national militias" have been taking place since the beginning of the summer in the Czech Republic. The groups are centered around the North Bohemian town of Most and model themselves after the "Soldiers of Odin" group in Finland.
Members of these groups say they want to protect Czech citizens from immigrants, primarily Muslim ones, and monitor compliance with Czech laws. However, they themselves frequently have criminal records and include active neo-Nazis.
The founders of the Czech branch of "Soldiers of Odin", Miroslav Horáček and Martin Šašala, deny that their group is connected with the neo-Nazi scene. However, Antifa.cz, the website of Anti-Fascist Action in the Czech Republic, has assembled proof of the fact that the founders have given the Nazi salute on past occasions and have tatooes that read "Rahowa" (Racial Holy War).
According to information reported by news server Lidovky.cz, the Czech branch of "Soldiers of Odin" has approximately 50 active members and more are joining. "We are beginning to collaborate with other towns and we can already say there will be many more of us in future," Šašala told Lidovky.cz.
We're from the North (of Bohemia)!
The connections made by the group between bloated Czech nationalism, the Nazi salute, and references to an ancient Germanic deity might seem quite absurd to some, but it's enough for the "Soldiers of Odin" that their core group is based in Most, a town in the north of the Czech Republic. "They're playing around with having the right to use Nordic mythodology and terminology because they are from the north. They've been playing with this a long time and I am not surprised that it's caught on," expert on extremism Miroslav Mareš explained to Lidovky.cz.
Besides the town of Most, the "Soldiers of Odin" have also been on patrol in Teplice, a Czech spa town with a large Arab clientele. The self-appointed militia said at the beginning of June that they would be "protecting" the "Czech people" from "Muslim immigrants" there.
"They came here, photographed themselves, and left. I don't understand at all why they turned up in Teplice exactly. They won't find any refugees in the park here," Michal Chrdle, director of the Teplice Municipal Police, told news server iDNES.cz with amazement.
According to data from the Czech Interior Ministry, during 2015 a total of 71 persons were granted asylum in the Czech Republic, only 13 of whom are from war-torn Syria. Another 399 were granted so-called additional protection, most of whom are from Ukraine.
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