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Czech Police raid on Muslim centers said to be in order

Prague, 10.5.2014 17:59, (ROMEA)
The website of the Islamic Foundation in Prague (PHOTO:  Romea.cz)
The website of the Islamic Foundation in Prague (PHOTO: Romea.cz)

The raid on Muslim centers in Prague conducted two weeks ago by police officers from the Organized Crime Detection Unit (Útvar pro odhalování organizovaného zločinu - ÚOOZ) is said to have been in order per Czech law. That claim has been made by the Czech Interior Ministry after Czech Police President Tomáš Tuhý familiarized Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec with the conclusions of an internal police investigation of the incident.  

However, Chovanec also said he understands why the Muslim community is embittered by the incident and asked police officers to take all aspects and risks into account during similar interventions in future. The raid occurred just before the beginning of the important Friday prayers and was criticized by Muslims, including diplomats who complained. 

After the raid, police charged a 55-year-old Czech with promoting and supporting a movement aiming to suppress human rights and freedoms. The man is from Prague and faces up to 10 years in prison; he is suspected of having arranged for the publication and distribution of a book disseminating racism.

Tuhý told Czech Television that police officers went into the raid with the understanding that people at the scene might be armed. He said that was later confirmed, but detectives determined through subsequent background checks that the persons carrying weapons were licensed to do so.

Earlier this week the ministry reported on the preliminary results of its investigation into the raid, which found that since the officers intervened at the Muslim centers before Friday prayers had begun, they did not interrupt them. The officers reportedly also called on all children, diplomats, persons living with disabilities and women to leave the scene immediately. 

"The Police President has familiarized me with the comprehensive review of the intervention, which seems to have been conducted in accordance with Czech law. However, the case is still open - I can't have detailed information about it and I don't want to at this juncture," Chovanec said today.

The minister also said earlier this week that the intervention was "ordered as an immediate operation" by the District Court for Prague 1. Police also, according to Chovanec, have proof that they called on children, people living with disabilities, people with diplomatic immunity and women to "immediately leave the scene of the premises being searched".

"On the other hand, I understand the bitterness felt by the Muslim community in the Czech Republic, which has been peaceful. At the same time I have asked representatives of the police, the Security Information Service [BIS] and the Office for Foreign Relations and Information [UZSI - the intelligence services] to jointly take into consideration all other aspects and risks that such interventions might involve in future," Chovanec said. 

In addition to the inappropriate timing of the raid, Muslims have complained that police officers walked through the places of worship in their shoes, which is not permitted by Muslim custom. ÚOOZ detectives burst into the buildings of the Islamic Foundation, the Muslim Community Center, and the Muslim Community of Prague not far from the Černý Most metro station and Wenceslas Square in Prague on Friday, 25 April. 

The police detained dozens of people, including several Indonesian diplomats. The Muslims had gathered for their regular Friday prayers, which are of particular significance to them. 

Those present during the raid later told journalists that the officers instructed everyone to lie face down on the ground. Eyewitnesses said police also aimed weapons at them.

The officers kept everyone at the scene for several hours. The Czech media reported that the raid might be related to a book called Bases of the Tauhid - The Islamic Conception of God.

Lukáš Lhoťan, a former Muslim, recently filed a criminal report over the book, which he says contains extreme Muslim opinions. Vladimír Sáňka, director of the Islamic Center in Prague, has repeatedly filed criminal reports against Lhoťan as well.  

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Islám, Policie, Praha, Razie



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