Czech presidential candidate sends convicted antisemite as his "spokesperson" to debate
The online news portal iDNES.cz has acquiesced to the requests of the campaign team backing the incumbent, Czech President Zeman, who has refused to participate in any debates prior to this month's presidential elections - so iDNES.cz is now holding such discussions among the press spokespersons of all the candidates, not between the candidates themselves. Candidate Petr Hannig has now sent a convicted antisemite, Adam B. Bartoš, to represent him during such a debate.
In the very theoretical case of Hannig's victory, Bartoš would become the director of the press department of the Office of the President. Candidate Marek Hilšer refused to send a press spokesperson to the discussion, stating that antisemites are not appropriate partners for dialogue.
Many other candidates - Jiří Drahoš, Michal Horáček, Jiří Hynek and Mirek Topolánek - also did not send their spokespeople to the event. "Miloš Zeman has refused to participate in any debates among the candidates," the news server reported yesterday.
"News server iDNES.cz has, therefore, prepared a discussion where the camps of the individual candidates will encounter each other on equal terms. [...] The discussion will be attended by Jiří Ovčáček (spokesperson for Miloš Zeman), Alena Ježková (spokesperson for Pavel Fischer), Vladimír Šulc (spokesperson for Vratislav Kulhánek) and Adam B. Bartoš (spokesperson for Petr Hannig)," iDNES.cz reported.
"Representatives of the other five candidates are not taking advantage of the iDNES.cz offer," the news server reported. Hilšer responded to the scandalous nomination by announcing: "I have cancelled the attendance of my person in the debate among the press spokespeople to be held tomorrow on iDNES.cz."
"[The debate] is a good idea, but colleague Petr Hannig has nominated Adam B. Bartoš to represent him," Hilšer said. "There is no point in sitting at the same table with an antisemite, to say nothing of discussing with him."
It was exactly yesterday that the Czech Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Bartoš (who is the chair of National Democracy - ND and Hannig's spokesperson) against his year-long suspended sentence, postponed for two years, in the matter of the anti-Jewish text he left near the grave of a girl who was murdered in the 19th century in Polná (Jihlava district). Bartoš and his party colleague Ladislav Zemánek left a sign by the grave of Anežka Hrůzová, whose violent death in 1899 sparked anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the Czech-speaking part of what was then still the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Their 21st-century sign read: "Her death brought the Czech nation together and urgently demonstrated the necessity of solving the Jewish question. The Jewish question has not yet been satisfactorily resolved."
The pair published that text on publicly-accessible Internet pages as well, and Bartoš is also facing an indictment for denying and approving of genocide, for incitement to hatred, and for defamation of a nation. According to police, in his books and speeches the ND chair has intentionally incited hatred against immigrants and Jews.
For those crimes he faces up to three years in prison if convicted. The ultra-right ND is, according to expert Josef Dolista, an extremist party.
The expert stated that finding before the Prague Municipal Court in the case of a lawsuit filed by the ND against the Czech Interior Ministry. The ND was bothered by the fact that the ministry repeatedly categorized it as an extremist party in its reports.
Dolista said in his two-hour testimony that the ND is doing its best, through its statements, to divide society here, which is one sign of an extremist. "That can have an impact on the direction of hate speech against certain minority parts of the population," Dolista tesified.
The expert said the main problem for the party is the content of its statements and that he comprehends the ministry's opinion that the ND is extremist. The ND is just one of the hateful parties that have joined forces in the project called "Rozumní" (The Rational Ones) and are supporting Hannig for President.
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