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Czech Republic: Indonesian Embassy complains about police raid on mosque

Prague, 1.5.2014 17:29, (ROMEA)
The website of the Islamic Foundation in Prague (PHOTO:  Romea.cz)
The website of the Islamic Foundation in Prague (PHOTO: Romea.cz)

The Indonesian Embassy has delivered a diplomatic note to the Czech Foreign Ministry regarding last Friday's police intervention at a mosque in the center of Prague. In the note, the embassy references provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. 

David Frous of the Czech Foreign Ministry's press department confirmed the news to the Czech News Agency on Monday 28 April. Wahono Yulianto, secretary of the Indonesian Embassy, was directly affected by the police intervention and criticized the uncompromising procedures undertaken by armed officers.  

Representatives of the embassy were allegedly not released from the mosque until an hour and a half after the intervention began even though they wanted to show their diplomatic documents to police sooner. "We will of course continue to handle this matter with all of the seriousness it deserves," Frous told the Czech News Agency. 

The Vienna Convention ensures diplomats of immunity, among other matters. On Friday, police intervened against buildings of the Islamic Foundation near Wenceslas Square and the Černý Most metro station in Prague where Muslims gather. 

After the police intervention, a 55-year-old Czech man was charged with promoting and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. The man from Prague faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of arranging for the publication and distribution of a book disseminating racism.

Many of those directly affected by the police intervention have complained. They say officers disrupted their main Friday prayer, which is of special meaning to Muslims and for which they gather in mosques.

Hundreds of people were inside the mosque at the time of the raid. Some have complained that police officers refused to communicate with them and wanted them to remain on the ground.

"The police detained us and checked our identification. They kept instructing us to keep our heads down," one eyewitness to the intervention described it to journalists.

Police and the state prosecutor have agreed not to release the title of the book over which the man has been charged because they don't want to advertise it. The Czech media have reported that his arrest could be related to a book called Bases of the Tauhid - The Islamic Conception of God (in Czech, Základy tauhídu-Islámský koncept Boha).  

Former Muslim Lukáš Lhoťan says the book includes extreme Muslim opinions and recently filed a criminal report about it. The book was written by Bilal Philips, who Bronislav Ostřanský of the Middle East Department of the Oriental Institute at the Czech Academy of Sciences says is a renowned theologian and radical.  

"We can justifiably charge him with many things, such as approving of suicide assassinations, but not in connection with the book Bases of the Tauhid, the content of that is somewhat different," Ostřanský told the Czech News Agency. In his view the book is a very rigid text. 

"It does not, however, seem so dangerous to me that police would have to intervene in a place of worship because of it," Ostřanský said. He believes much more controversial books have been published in the Czech Republic.

The orientalist said he believed it was "very weird" that police wanted to arrest the publisher of the book two years after it was first issued, pointing out that another book by Philips has been published in Czech translation in the past. "It's not possible to say that the Czech community of Muslims has radicalized," he believes. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Bilal Philips, Extremism, Islám, Racism



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