Czech organizer of anti-Romani demonstration gets plenty of criticism online
Yesterday the Czech town of Děčín witnessed yet another anti-Romani demonstration involving a march through the town organized by Lukáš Kohout, who has been convicted of fraud more than once. As of yesterday before noon, almost 500 people had responded to the Facebook event announcing the demonstration to say they would be attending; in the end 200 people made it there, two of whom were arrested after the demonstration was officially over and charged with various offenses.
What was interesting about the online response to the event is that many more people than usual criticized the organizer of the demonstration on Facebook. They reproached him for his criminal past, which has involved fraud and theft.
Kohout is notorious for not making much of an effort to deny his frauds once they are discovered, as he is primarily interested in publicity. As the pretext for yesterday's demonstration he chose to exploit an incident that occurred two weeks ago involving Romani assailants and non-Romani victims, one of whom suffered severe injuries.
The Facebook event announcing the demonstration was entitled "Gypsy terror in Děčín". Many racists expressed support for it.
A Facebook user named Světlanka Sweetty posted the following status update about the demonstration: "There should be gas and matches in every gypsy household, they should leave the gas on to show how wealthy they are and the matches are for the kids, let them play with them all they want." Another named Jan Hlavacek wrote "Push them all into one room and burn them alive - or if the state would give us ammunition and arms, then people know to do with them."
Others, however, made it clear they believe Kohout is bad news. "He's such a poor guy that he can't afford to pay child support, his wife left him and lives with a Romani man who takes good care of her and of Kohout's child," one of his opponents posted.
Another of many such status updates read as follows: "Lukáš, you really aren't welcome here... I'm amazed that with your reputation and your past you have the nerve to organize these actions... A decent person would feel constrained by shame and wouldn't dare show his face in public, but a decent person is capable of self-reflection and you're not..."
Then there's this one: "I don't know whether your/our intelligentsia of the nation know that the organizer of this absurd action, which will solve nothing, used to travel abroad with money he defrauded from the state. That means your money!!! If you are arguing here that gypsies rob the state and your money... then more than one citizen of Děčín should lynch Mr Kohout too."
NO to Kohout, extremism and racism
Two other Facebook pages about yesterday's demonstration were also created, "We Don't Want Lukáš Kohout's Demonstration in Děčín" (Demonstraci Lukáše Kohouta v Děčíně nechceme) and "Lukáš Kohout Doesn't Belong in Public Life" (Lukáš Kohout do veřejného prostoru nepatří). The first of these posted the following, among other things:
"We have decided not to stay silent and on behalf of the residents of Děčín we are expressing our disagreement with the demonstration organized by Lukáš Kohout, who is attempting to draw attention to himself once again, this time in our town. According to all the available information he is not concerned about what is good for the citizens of Děčín, but just about himself. He refused to meet with the mayor, he blocks everyone who disagrees with him, he erases commentaries he doesn't agree with so people can't freely express themselves about his event, and through his hateful stance he is just further eroding the already-fragile coexistence between the majority and the minority. If you care about the fact that someone wants to abuse our problems for his own benefit, if you care about how we will live in Děčín from now on, then join us and together let's ignore this uninvited con artist, let's clearly communicate our disagreement with him through our unity, because that is the only way we can figure out for ourseles how to get rid of the fear and lawlessness here. We say NO to extremism, racism, violence, lies, theft, abuses of the system and indifference."
Celebrities also spoke out against yesterday's demonstration. "I call on Děčín not to respond to the anti-Romani march being organized by someone who doesn't even live there. Lukáš Kohout started the series of demonstrations in the Šluknov foothills and the media almost turned it into a civil war. A demonstration will spark a wave of hatred from both sides. All of this will then culminate in a targeted conflict. If you want to protest somewhere, protest where it makes sense," wrote rap artist Jason Rejven on Facebook, for example.
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