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Czech Republic: Hundreds protest anti-Semitism in Prague

24.4.2015 4:07
On 19 April 2015 there was a public meeting in Prague called
On 19 April 2015 there was a public meeting in Prague called "Culture against Anti-Semitism" which included a Good Will March and a cultural program in the Waldstein Gardens. (PHOTO: Czech News Agency)

On Sunday, 19 April, hundreds of people participated in the 12th annual Good Will March (Pochod dobré vůle) in Prague. The event took place under the slogan of "Culture against Anti-Semitism" in the center of the capital.

Participants in the march, which included people of all generations and hundreds of youth from Germany, marched through part of Prague's Jewish Town and then listened to speeches in front of the Rudolfinum. The event culminated with a cultural program in the Waldstein Gardens.

Organizers say more than 500 people attended. The event included an evening concert by an Israeli jazz band at the Divadlo U Hasičů theater.

"We are following the overall radicalization of society with trepidation, in particular the continually rising wave of hostile propaganda targeting Jewish people. We consider it alarming that Jews once again do not feel safe in many European countries today," said Mojmír Kallus, chair of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), which convened the event.    

Participants marched from Franz Kafka Square in Prague led by actor Jan Potměšil in a wheelchair, singing, playing trumpets, and shouting slogans in support of the state of Israel and its population. There were Czech, German and Israeli flags in the procession.

Students carried portraits of their "vanished neighbors", Jewish citizens from their hometowns who fell victim to the Holocaust. On Palach Square in front of the Rudolfinum, participants remembered the victims of the Holocaust.

The Ensemble Studánka performed the Czech national anthem, the Israeli national anthem, and the composition "Terezín March". Seven young people then lit symbolic candles "in memory of the families who were transformed into smoke."

In the Waldstein Gardens the speakers included Holocaust survivors, Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren, Prague Councilor for Culture Jan Wolf, and Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman. "Anti-Semitism is one of the most horrible forms of intolerance," Herman said.

Vice-Chair of the Czech Senate Přemysl Sobotka recalled the inactivity of the Czech Police when fans of the Sparta football club chanted "Jude Slavie" ("Slavia are Jews") at a match against Slavia Prague. Speaking to Czech Television, Senator Sobotka emphasized the need to combat anti-Semitism.

"We are hearing of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and such matters all over the world. Unless we combat this, we could end up like we were in the 1930s and 1940s. At this moment we must take up arms against the Islamic State," he said.

Part of the program included a drama/music section comprised of excerpts from a book by Erika Bezdíčková, "My Long Silence" (Moje dlouhé mlčení), and Holocaust survivors Toman Brod and Dagmar Lieblová also spoke. Organizers said the aim of the event was to mobilize citizens who care about rising anti-Semitism in Europe. 

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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