Czech politician misquotes meeting with Romani residents of at-risk housing estate, they correct the record
"I spoke with a couple of guys who work and who lead a football club for children there. Mr Bažo shocked me by saying: 'The nonprofits are the worst for us, the ones in 'romo-business'.' That's how it is," Czech MP Václav Klaus Jr, chair of the Tricolor (Trikolóra) movement, posted to Facebook after visiting the Chanov housing estate on Tuesday, 7 October.
The MP said the infamous housing estate was one of 14 stops on his tour of the Most region. He also posted photographs and the information that one of those present at the Chanov meeting, Štefan Cicko, will coordinate the Tricolor movement locally.
František Nistor, who also attended the meeting, told news server Romea.cz on 9 October that it was he who had discussed "romo-business" with the MP. "When Mr Klaus started saying that enormous millions are being spent on Romani nonprofit organizations, I stopped him and said that the subsidies and grants are not just drawn by Romani organizations, but also by non-Romani ones, and I gave him an example here from Chanov. The organization that has been here for 17 years does not employ any Roma - or maybe just one - and the projects they do are teaching Romani children about hygiene, or Romani women how to cook. That is, for me, 'romo-business'," Nistor said, emphasizing that he had not been talking about all organizations in general.
"I'm not saying Romani nonprofits are bad, or that they shouldn't exist - if they do their work well, I'm glad of it. However, this cannot be abused. I had the impression Mr Klaus was speaking just about Romani organizations, so I just wanted to tell him that in cases where such abuse happens - 'romo-business' - some non-Romani organizations make their living that way as well," Nistor said.
Bažo, who was named by Klaus Jr on his Facebook profile, first shared the MP's post. After a wave of negative reactions, he then deleted it.
Beneath the original post by the MP, Bažo then wrote the following: "Good evening, I'm rather angry that Mr Klaus Jr has used my 'two cents' so that a discussion could be held about what is being written here. I am not interested in politics. If I told him what bothers me, it was purely between us, I did not suspect it would immediately become a subject for this evening, I don't want to be associated with any political party. I'm just a polite person who wanted to be polite to the person who asked for this meeting."
As for the post of a coordinator for Tricolor, Nistor said the Romani people present at the meeting had not chosen anybody for that role. "There was no choice made, we made them no promises. We have not established a local organization for the party. Maybe they chose Mr Cicko themselves to be a contact person, but we certainly did not choose him to be anything. I believe Mr Klaus wanted to improve his media image and this has begun to live its own life on Facebook," he said.
According to Nistor, the Romani residents of Chanov were invited to the meeting with the MP by friends of theirs from the Apostolic Church with whom they collaborate, one of whose members has joined Tricolor. "He came to see us and said Mr Klaus would be making a tour of North Bohemia. Out of respect for him, we came to hear what Mr Klaus had to say," he said.
Klaus Jr established the Tricolor political group after being expelled from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in March. The sociologist Jan Herzmann, speaking to news server Seznam.cz, called Tricolor a nationally-oriented, perhaps even nationalist, ultra-right formation, while Daniel Prokop, an analyst for the Median company, has called it the party that is closest to right-wing populism of the Trumpian kind in the Czech Republic.
- Commentary: Czech Interior Ministry is realizing ultra-nationalist politician is becoming a monster
- MEP Romeo Franz tells Romani demonstrators in Brussels: Politicians must consider us Roma equal partners
- Romani community member Edita Stejskalová recognized for her political engagement in the Czech Republic
- Czech Police investigating hateful online comments inciting violence against Czech Radio reporter that were sparked by politician
- Czech politician appeals sentence for his hateful remarks about minorities
- Commentary: Czech ultra-right politicians singing in harmony, and Russia likes it
- Open Letter: Conveners of Holocaust commemoration are too quiet after politician disgraced it
- Czech TV series paints northern town as a ghetto - just like local politicians do
- Czech Police charge senior citizen, a fanatical supporter of xenophobic politician, with terrorism
- Yet another Czech town bans housing benefits, opposition politician and Romani NGO object
- Czech principal says politicians forgot about her school after death threats were made against it last year
- Czech prosecutor to review police decision not to charge politicians over remarks about Romani genocide site
- Adriana Kotlárová, educator at school with many Romani pupils: Families have no Internet access, personal contact unavoidable even during COVID-19
- Romani residents of Czech housing estate thank those battling COVID-19 with hearts in windows
- Czech town puts "container housing" for Romani-inhabited locality on hold, former ombudswoman recommended cancelling it altogether
- Romani activist will seek to become chair of Progressive Slovakia party
- Czech ombudsman "likes" racist post on Facebook, refuses to answer questions about what that means
- Czech ombudsman attacks volunteer members of the Government's Council on Roma, alleges the Romani minority is "inactive" and "just anybody" speaks for them
- Irena Biháriová: I will not let the extremists own the streets
- Dozens of heads of state and government honoring the memory of Holocaust victims at Auschwitz Memorial today
- Slovakia: Romani people protest against Fascists in the east
- Analysis: Czech town approves construction of "container" housing on estate mostly inhabited by Romani people
- Romani man from the Czech Republic living in England launches Facebook challenge to aid homeless people, other Roma in Europe respond
- European experts say hatred online endangers democracy, nonprofits are monitoring social media response to it