Czech politician files criminal report against activist who set a copy of the Quran on fire
The Brno-based politician Svatopluk Bartík (Žít Brno) has filed criminal charges against Martin Konvička, head of an Islamophobic initiative now named after himself ("The Initiative of Martin Konvička"), who provoked outrage last week in front of a mosque in Brno. Konvička and his followers said they were "defending Czech culture" by setting fire to the Quran, holding a fashion show of scantily-clad women, drinking beer, and eating goulash and hot dogs.
The setting on fire of the sacred text is also being reviewed by the Brno-Střed municipal department, which is holding a misdemeanor proceeding in the matter. Konvička and other participants set several pages of a copy of the Quran on fire before throwing them into a bucket.
Bartík believes those who set the pages of the book on fire may have committed a felony. "I filed criminal charges according to paragraph 355 of the Penal Code [Defamation of an ethnic, national, racial or other group of persons - Editors] for the setting on fire of what is a holy book for Muslims, the Quran. This was done in the context of speeches staing that our culture is more valuable than Islamic culture, given during a provocative assembly in front of a mosque. I think Konvička & Co. have crossed the line of very bad taste into the criminal sphere. Nevertheless, it is a matter for the criminal justce authorities to deal with, I am not a judge," Bartík told news server ECHO24.cz.
The municipal department itself was unable to prevent the assembly announced by the "Initiative of Martin Konvička", which was attended by dozens of people. The aim of the assembly, according to organizers, was to warn of the incompatibility between the Czech and Muslim communities in the context of the current wave of migration into Europe.
The original plan was to grill and sell pork, which Muslims do not eat, and also to drink alcohol, which Muslims are forbidden to do. The municipal department banned that plan.
Participants ultimately got around the ban by serving beer just to "make a toast" during the vernissage opening the event. Instead of selling the goulash, participants simply gave it away, which was permitted.
According to Petr Štika, secretary for the Brno-střed municipal department, the event was more or less peaceful, with nothing serious happening until the very end. "Those attending passed around pages of the Quran. Mr Konvička called on the participants to set them on fire. He had a bucket at the podium into which he threw the burned pages. Other people followed his example. I am not yet able to state how that should be qualified from a legal perspective, but I certainly will put the incident forward for a misdemeanor proceeding and consult it with the Interior Ministry," Štika said.
The local official said the misdemeanor charge will be handled with the person who officially convened the event, David Nepimac. Konvička will also be part of the proceeding.
The mosque in Brno was established as the first of its kind in the Czech Republic in 1998. An estimated 1 000 Muslims live in the city, which is the second-largest in the Czech Republic.
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