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Czech politicians respond to President's antigypsyism: He divides us so we won't unite against him

10.10.2018 8:10
Czech President Miloš Zeman insulted Romani people once again on 5 October 2018 as he left a polling place after casting his ballot in the local and Senate elections. (PHOTO:  Czech Television)
Czech President Miloš Zeman insulted Romani people once again on 5 October 2018 as he left a polling place after casting his ballot in the local and Senate elections. (PHOTO: Czech Television)

Some other Czech politicians have begun to respond to Czech President Miloš Zeman's remarks about Romani people avoiding work - remarks which prompted Romani people all over Europe to post photographs of themselves at work to Facebook. "When my son Nick was born, my Romani friends came to visit all the way from Ostrava to give him a medallion of the Madonna. They call me frequently to see whether I might have a job or work for them, to ask how I am, to tell me how they are. They're business people. Miloš, what the hell have you ever done for them and who gave you the right to insult them like this? former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) tweeted.

Czech Senator Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) tweeted the following: "You can choke on hatred, but you can't eat it. Mr Zeman is playing a transparent game. He offers one group grudges against the Roma, another his grudges against journalists, and somebody else some grudges against Praguers - you can see for yourself what else he is dishing up. He divides us so we won't unite against him."

Miroslav Kalousek, the chair of the TOP 09 party, called the President's remarks "absolutely hideous and unacceptable". "That would have been hideous even if it had been said by somebody in a fourth-class pub. When the President of the republic, who is meant to be a President for all citizens, says it, then it is hideous and unacceptable," he told news server iDNES.cz.

Czech MP Petr Gazdík (STAN) also disagrees with Zeman's remarks, as do Czech MP Marian Jurečka (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) and Czech MP Miroslava Němcová (ODS). "A President is meant to unite people, not divide them. His remarks divide society," Gazdík told iDNES.cz.

"As has been demonstrated, there is a big part of the Romani community here who do honest work. A politician should do his best to be a person who integrates these people in a positive way. He should do his best to make sure these people get a high-quality education and work," Gazdík said.

"I do not like how the head of state is speaking about some of the citizens of this country. I comprehend that some people here have had bad experiences with some Romani people, but I decidedly reject tarring all of them with the same brush," Němcová said.

Czech MP Jiří Dolejš (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - KSČM) tweeted statistics about Romani employment captioned as follows: "Not only is he insulting them, it's drivel." Pavel Fischer, a recent Senate candidate, said of Zeman that "He is dredging up the mud from the very bottom of our society! The President of the republic has made his remarks about journalists and Romani people - the autumn season has begun. There is nothing left to do but to put on our boots and rubber gloves and get our our brushes and buckets. The 100th anniversary of the republic deserves a more elegant style."

Zeman's first remarks in this latest series were a nostalgic reminiscence about the communist era and insinuated that without external compulsion, Romani people do not "want to work". After casting his own ballot in this weekend's elections, he reiterated the false allegation that "90 %" of Romani people are unemployed in the country while speaking to Czech Television's Richard Samko, who is a Romani community member.

Monika Mihaličková of the ROMEA organization refuted the President's claims by demonstrating that according to official statistics, not only do 70 % of Romani people in the country work, but 80 % of the people who collect unemployment benefits are not Romani. Czech sociologist Daniel Prokop then confirmed to the media that Zeman's claims were completely inaccurate.

 

bau, agw, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Miloš Zeman, prezident, Romani people, Výroky



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