Czech Republic: Anti-refugee hoax online after gas station attendants mistake Roma from Slovakia for "refugees"
Employees of the Gold gas station near Mohelnice, Czech Republic are spreading a hoax about "refugees" online. When a bus full of Romani people heading back home to Slovakia after seasonal work harvesting hops in the Czech Republic stopped at their station, the attendants thought they were a group of "refugees".
The gas station's Facebook profile is carrying the following message: "More relocation of migrants without the awareness of the broader public. We deduce this because they are moving around at 1 AM without the assistance of police. Naturally the media and the press are silent. Share so everybody can see what is actually going on in our country and how migrants behave here. Fortunately our staff was alert and managed to lock the door to the sales area in time."
That message accompanied footage from security cameras that the gas station staff posted to Facebook, and as of 2 June the video had been viewed by more than 370 000 people and shared by almost 12 000. The nighttime footage from 27 May shows a group of Romani people exiting the bus at the gas station, during which two of them get into an argument.
The footage shows how their fellow passengers separate the arguers from each other. The brief, minor shoving match then calms down.
Gas station staff called police when they saw the small group, but there was nothing for the officers to do once they arrived. According to police, no illegal behavior occurred, nor was any damage caused to health or property.
"The persons in the video are temporary agricultural workers from Slovakia who were returning to Slovakia after harvesting hops in the Czech Republic. They stopped at the gas station mentioned, got out of the bus, and an argument and subsequent scuffle happened between some individuals," Kateřina Rendlová, spokesperson for the Aliens Police, confirmed to the Czech tabloid news server Blesk.cz.
Even though police sources officially clarified the information as to who the people really were, the gas station attendants still wrote an anti-refugee status update on Facebook, which unleashed a racist discussion. "Shoot the scum and there will be peace and quiet," one Facebook user wrote in response to the post.
"I've said it a thousand times: Shoot them... shoot them... shoot them... and shoot them again when they first try to enter Europe!!!" another person writes in response to the Facebook post. "A Kalashnikov and a full magazine of spitz bullets would solve that immediately," reads another hateful commentary.
Other online comments, however, criticize the gas station staff. "Gold gas station, are you not aware that you could go to prison for spreading a false alarm?" one Facebook user posted beneath the video.
"Did a PR agency advise you to do this, or did you come up with it on your own? Whichever it was, I will not be filling up my tank at your business, so congratulations," another Facebook user remarked.
Rendlová says this is just one of many cases in which citizens in the Czech Republic are mistaking people for "refugees". "People are using social networking sites in particular to describe events they have witnessed, but they are erroneously considering all foreign nationals or persons who look foreign to be asylum-seekers and assume they are freely moving about on our territory without the police being aware of it," she told Blesk.cz.
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