Czech President and Governor of Olomouc Region doubt whether attack on African man in Prague was racially motivated
Czech President Miloš Zeman and the Governor of the Olomouc Region, Ladislav Okleštěk (ANO), have cast doubt on whether the assault committed against a man from Africa earlier this month in Prague by a group of Sigma Olomouc football fans on a tram was racially motivated. The victim said none of his fellow passengers came to his aid and that the driver did not understand why he wanted to call the police.
Zeman said such assaults are perpetrated by football fans irrespective of their victims' skin color. "I believe similar attacks happen from time to time irrespective of skin color, because football fans, as I have said many times, are people who do not control themselves, and I would even say they are essentially hooligans," he said in an interview for the tabloid Parlamentní listy.
Governor Ladislav Okleštěk, who was interviewed by the tabloid at the same time, also cast doubt on whether the assault was racially motivated. "I certainly do not approve of such an act, but football fans are different, and situations happen where they don't get along with each other," he said.
"I was not present during that incident and I don't know what its cause was. I do not believe it was skin color," the Governor continued.
"Maybe the man said something to the footbal fans," he speculated. "In any event, such an act is wrong wherever it happens."
"Such acts must always be condemned," said the Governor, who is a member of the ANO movement's governing board. The attack happened on Saturday 4 November 2017 on a tram in Prague.
The man, who is of West African origin, was hospitalized as a result. Police arrested several of the assailants that same day and are investigating them on suspicion of committing felony defamation of a nation, race, ethnic or other group, of rioting, and of battery.
The fans had traveled to the capital for a match between Bohemians 1905 and Sigma Olomouc and got onto the number 6 tram at the I. P. Pavlova stop, where they began first verbally and then physically attacking the 36-year-old man, who is a longtime Prague resident. "At I.P. Pavlova about 20 young men got on and immediately began to yell at me that I'm a 'black mug' and a 'dirty nigger'," the victim said.
"They also shouted that I should go back to Africa and that blacks and Jews should be gassed," the victim said. The fans then threw lemons at the man, punched him, pulled him to the floor from his seat and kicked him.
According to the victim, none of the other passengers stood up for him and the driver did not understand why he wanted to call the police after the attackers had disembarked. The assault has already been condemned by many politicians, including Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
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