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March 22, 2019
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Czech Republic: Families of children targeted with online hate spend Christmas in the mountains thanks to generous donor

26.12.2017 9:17
The photograph that sparked a wave of online racism. The faces and names of the pupils in the first grade of the Plynárenská School in Teplice, Czech Republic have been blurred in order to protect their identities.
The photograph that sparked a wave of online racism. The faces and names of the pupils in the first grade of the Plynárenská School in Teplice, Czech Republic have been blurred in order to protect their identities.

Children attending the Plynárenská Primary School in Teplice, Czech Republic are spending Christmas together with their families in the Krkonoše Mountains this year after hotelier Alexandr Bílek offered them a free stay in the resort town of Špindlerův Mlýn. The businessman decided to organize the gift because he disagrees with the racist attacks committed online against the children and their parents, and he wanted to make the situation more pleasant for them.

"After that unbelievably swinish campaign against the children in northern Bohemia we decided to do something to cheer up those who have to grapple with intolerance from those around them, who are not looking forward to Christmas, or who are afraid of it, or who just want to get away from such an unfriendly environment," Bílek told Deník.cz before the holiday. This is not the first time he has offered Christmas vacations for free to cheer people up.

Two years ago Bílek offered a Christmastime all-inclusive stay in his guesthouse to single mothers and their children as well as to others who did not have family with whom to spend the holiday. The intolerant, xenophobic online posts that were disseminated across social networks in the Czech Republic targeted the children attending the Teplice school after news server Denik.cz published a photo of its first-grade class at the start of the school year, something it has done for years.

Most of the children in the class are of either Arab or Romani heritage, and that fact apparently outraged a significant proportion of Czech society, which then posted ugly comments about them online including death threats. Subsequently, an enormous wave of support arose for the families of the first-graders from people who disagreed with the racist remarks made online.

ROMEA and other organizations also launched a fundraising campaign called "THEY WANT TO GAS THEM, WE WANT TO SEND THEM TO SCHOOL!" to which more than 760 people have contributed more than CZK 450 000 [EUR 17 500] so far. Half of the funds raised will be sent to the school after the new year, while the other half will benefit the scholarship program for Romani students run by the ROMEA organization.

Another fundraising drive for the school was organized by Internet entrepreneur and journalist Patrick Zandl. That effort has raised CZK 590 000 [EUR 23 000].

 

th, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Děti, Podpora, Teplice, Vánoce



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