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Czech President Zeman marks US Independence Day by calling Black Lives Matter "racist"

3.7.2020 12:29
Approximately 130 people, most of them young, assembled on 20 June 2020 in Brno, Czech Republic to express their solidarity with and support for the Black community in the United States of America. (PHOTO: Demonstration organizers)
Approximately 130 people, most of them young, assembled on 20 June 2020 in Brno, Czech Republic to express their solidarity with and support for the Black community in the United States of America. (PHOTO: Demonstration organizers)

The slogan "Black Lives Matter", which is being used in protests in the USA and worldwide, is one that Czech President Miloš Zeman believes is "racist", according to a statement he made during a visit to the residency of the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic marking the 244th anniversary of that country's Independence Day. He then went on to say that "all lives matter".

Zeman criticized those whom he called the "opinion leaders" associated with the protests. He said he has no need for new "Big Brothers" telling him what values to hold.

The Czech President also said "society" in both the Czech Republic and the USA is currently "facing assaults" on the "independence" of citizens. "We cannot ignore this danger, we must counter it," he said.

Zeman also criticized the recent unrest in the streets of the USA, the destruction of statues, and the setting of automobiles on fire. He added that he was attending the event as an "independent citizen" and a "friend" of the USA.

"Speaking in both of those roles, I say the slogan 'Black Lives Matter' is racist, because all lives matter," the Czech President declared. He gave his remarks in English.

Zeman began by saying his speech would be "slightly impolite" and not as warm as he would customarily be. When criticizing the behavior of demonstrators in the USA and "opinion leaders", he quoted the lyrics of the folk song "Old Time Religion".

"What was good enough for my father and mother is good enough for me," the Czech President said. In his view, "society" in the Czech Republic and the USA needs to "preserve its freedom" to create opinions as well as its "common sense".

"The same goes for the so-called opinion leaders. I don't need any new Big Brothers, I don't need any new opinion leaders," Zeman told those assembled.

The Black Lives Matter movement in the USA has been contributing to organizing protests against police brutality and racism, most recently those sparked by the murder of George Floyd in May during a disproportionate police intervention in which a police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes even though the restrained man repeatedly said he was unable to breathe. Protests against the murder have been held throughout the United States and many other countries.

US Ambassador Stephen King called the USA an ally and friend of the Czech Republic in his speech on the occasion of Independence Day. He gave an assessment of the last few months, which have been especially marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have made great sacrifices, but today I feel the worst is behind us and the process of rebuilding has begun," the ambassador said. In his view, the Czech Republic was united during the pandemic and took rapid action.

"I feel optimism in the air already now," King said. The celebration at the residency of the US Ambassador was attended by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (Association of Dissatisfied Citiens - ANO) and his wife, Monika, Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (for ANO), President of the Czech Senate Miloš Vystrčil (Civic Democratic Party - ODS), Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates), Cardinal Dominik Duka, and the Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, Aleš Opata.

ČTK, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Miloš Zeman, prezident, Racism, USA



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