Czech PM: The President should not attend events organized by xenophobes
Speaking in an interview for the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny (HN), Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said the Czech President should not make appearances at events organized by xenophobic sects disseminating hatred. The PM said he believes that by giving a speech on the state holiday of 17 November at Albertov in Prague side-by-side with representatives of the extremist Bloc against Islam group, President Zeman has now joined the populists who are feeding like parasites on people's fears of the so-called Islamic State and the migration crisis.
Zeman has objected to the characterization, saying his speech contained no hateful or Islamophobic formulations. "The highest Constitutional officer of a country that has a deep democratic and humanist tradition should not appear at assemblies of xenophobic sects that fulfill the aim of disseminating intensive hatred," Sobotka told the daily.
The PM said that by participating in the event at Albertov, the Czech President has legitimized the dissemination of extreme hatred and xenophobia. He also said that the President's performance had not just angered him personally, but the entire ČSSD, including its conservative left wing, which has long supported Zeman.
"At the current moment, all of us in the Social Democrats are terribly upset with Mr President over what he has done," the PM said. Zeman has rejected the criticism.
"It would be good to read my speech, you will not find a single hateful, Islamophobic formulation in it. On the contrary, you will find it includes a call for dialogue and tolerance, as well as a call for us to not label our ideological opponents. That is what Mr Prime Minister has done, and I believe a good Prime Minister would not behave like this," the President told HN.
Bloc against Islam, the group whose representatives accompanied Zeman during his appearance at Albertov, espouses a negative position on refugees and rejects the idea of receiving them. Supporters of the group are calling for the absolute removal of Muslims from the Czech Republic.
Promoters of neo-Nazi or ultra-right organizations have turned up at several of the events against Islam this year in the Czech Republic. Czech Minister for Human Rights and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) has already criticized Zeman for his appearance at Albertov on the occasion of the 17 November anniversary, saying the President is aiding in the creation of an atmosphere for the fascisization of Czech society.
Dienstbier also said that some of the remarks that have been made by the head of state are Islamophobic, xenophobic and are creating fear in society. According to five Czech MEPs from the parties of the Christian Democrats, TOP 09 and the Mayors (Starosty), Zeman is distancing himself from democratic values through his public support for these fascisizing movements.
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