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Czech online tabloids recycling long-debunked antigypsyist hoaxes alleging Roma get free transportation, washing machines

24.7.2017 7:11
An ancient antigypsyist hoax was republished on 18 July 2017 by the Czech-language Eportal server and the tabloid.
An ancient antigypsyist hoax was republished on 18 July 2017 by the Czech-language Eportal server and the tabloid.

An online hoax against Romani people in the Czech town of Most that is several years old and alleges that they are getting free public transport and that the town is paying for them to go to the spa or take taxis is once again spreading through the Czech-language Internet. Besides being currently shared on Czech-language social networks, the hoax was published by the news server Eportál on 18 July.

That same afternoon it was republished by the tabloid News server first reported on this hoax at the beginning of 2014.

"I want to share an experience that literally shocked me when I visited the town of Most," begins the article on Eportál, attributed to an author named Lenka Žitná, who describes an alleged trip she made on the tram in Most during which her ticket was checked. "All of the passengers except the Romani youth were checked. [...] When Madame Controller wanted to get off, I called out to her 'What about the young guys, you don't check them?' The lady responded that Romani people in Most are able to ride for free," the author writes, continuing: "In the evening I had to use a taxi after meeting with some friends. The taxi driver talked with me and told me yet another interesting thing that shocked me, namely, that once a month Romani people can ride in a taxi for free because the town covers the cost for them."

According to the author, Romani people from Most also have free permanent passes to the spa and the town will buy them refrigerators or washing machines. This hoax first appeared several years ago and regularly recurs.

Back in 2013 the hoax was officially refuted by the Most town hall after a local resident requested that they do so. "Similar untruths, unfortunately, are spreading, and to the age-old rumor that some citizens get to ride in taxis for free, another rumor has recently been added about free entry to the Most swimming facility, the Aquadrom. In the story you point out there is, unfortunately, more deceptive information about public transport. The town of Most does not reimburse anybody for taking taxis or going swimming," Jaroslava Boudová, secretary at the Most town hall, posted to the town's official website in November 2013.

"Children up to the age of 15 and senior citizens pay reduced fares on municipal public transport in Most determined by age and no other criterion! The town of Most, moreover, has not been disbursing social welfare since January of last year [Editor's Note:  2012] because that activity has been transferred to the Labor Office as part of the reorganization of the public administration," she went on to say.

"The information that appears in the e-mail you are sending to us is not just deceptive, it is quite dangerous, because it is contributing to the escalation of social tensions in our society," the secretary concluded. The years 2011-2013 saw widespread attacks in northern Bohemia against Romani residents.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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