Czech Republic: Hooligans physically attack customer of café supporting refugees in Brno
For expressing solidarity with refugees on social networking sites, the Brno-based Tři Ocásci café has endured a wave of insulting reactions and threats online. Last Saturday the situation culminated in hooligans physically attacking a customer there.
The hooligans had attended the demonstration last Friday in Brno against the reception of refugees. "This was not a pleasant situation, but we decidedly will not let ourselves be terrorized. We do not believe that the time of fear from the beginning of the 1990s should return, when such incidents were fairly common," Tereza Náhlíková, who runs the café, told news server Romea.cz.
Curses and threats turned up on the café's Facebook page beneath a photograph with the title "#I accept [#přijímám] solidarity with refugees". Náhlíková says the café management turned to police with printscreens of the worst posts and the threats that those opposed to them "would visit" the café.
"We wanted advice on what to do in such a situation and asked them to beef up their patrols," she said. The response from police was clear: They could not help until after something happens.
A group of football hooligans, the Johnny Kentus Gang, wearing clothing with traditional neo-Nazi symbols, first turned up in the café on Friday evening after the demonstration against refugees had ended. After making threats and delivering the message that they would be back later, they left without paying.
The group returned right the next day. They photographed themselves in front of the café with a sign reading "#We Don't Accept Refugees", strongly demanded that their posters be put up on the premises, and physically attacked a customer who stood up for the service staff.
"We called the police immediately on Friday and Saturday after [the hooligans] came to the café. Both times the police did not arrive until half an hour later, stayed about 20 minutes, and left saying we should call again if something else were to happen, that there was no relevant reason to feel endangered. We did not have the feeling that they would protect us should we need it," Náhlíková said.
The café has since released a statement in response to these events. News server Romea.cz publishes it here in full translation.
Response to recent events
We are very disturbed by the events of the past week, primarily of the weekend. In response to our display of solidarity with suffering people, we first received a strong wave of indiscriminate disagreement full of vulgar insults and threats online, which then escalated into intimidation directly in our business and even a physical assault on a customer who stood up for our service staff in this exacerbated situation.
We consider a situation in which people are intimidated or physically attacked for displaying an opinion to be a basic threat to an equal, free society.
Our society has reached a state of affairs in which an individual or group might fear expressing their opinion. We believe that full responsibility for this is borne by people like Tomáš Vandas, Martin Konvička and his "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" group, and Tomio Okamura, who do not hesitate to spread fear, hatred and panic. To the same degree, of course, the media contribute to this atmosphere through their one-sided reporting, as do silent politicians across the entire political spectrum and public figures who cannot manage to take a clear, humane, responsible position on this matter, or who do not want to, and who let the above-mentioned voices of hate resound too loudly.
We call on those participating in this discussion to raise the level of their discourse, on public figures to lead by example, and on the group around M. Konvička and other populists to take responsibility for their outrageous escalation of the situation - and primarily, we call on them to change their rhetoric.
Our message for violent thugs in Brno and beyond is that the Tři Ocásci café is not now and never will be a battleground.
To everyone who has expressed support for us, whether long-distance or by visiting us directly, we thank you and we firmly believe that in the future the situation will not get so far out of hand.
We do not want hatred and intolerance in our country.
We accept solidarity with refugees. (#přijímáme)
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