Czech Republic: International Romani Day marred by conflict at Prague restaurant
The third annual celebration of International Romani Day in the Černý Most area of Prague, intended to support intercultural coexistence, was marred by an unpleasant incident yesterday. Josef Baláž, a co-organizer of the event, alleges that a waiter employed at the restaurant visited by concert-goers after the performance told him and the restaurant owner that he and his colleagues would not serve Romani customers.
The owner of the restaurant asserts that the restaurant was closed yesterday to prepare for regularly scheduled cleaning. News server Romea.cz has interviewed those involved on either side of the dispute.
"This is the third time we have organized this event and there has never been a conflict before. It's held under the auspices of the Prague 14 Municipal Department and those who attended our events in previous years have included representatives of the local authority, who have always been very satisfied with how it went. I have to say that the approach taken by the restaurant staff has greatly offended me personally," Baláž, who is the director of the Černý Most Social Enterprise (Sociální podnik Černý Most, s.r.o.), told news server Romea.cz.
"Our social enterprise employs our fellow citizens, non-Roma and Roma, who are handicapped, and we do our best to provide them with opportunities for development. The restaurant's behavior just took my breath away," Baláž said.
The restaurant owner told Romea.cz that during last year's celebration a waiter was allegedly assaulted by a customer and the police were called. "There were five ambulances sent here because of that incident," the owner told news server Romea.cz.
"During our negotiations with the organizers nobody ever told us that our staff was refusing to serve them. Our cleaning day is planned for Saturday morning and the restaurant will be closed," the restaurant owner explained.
"That is an absolute lie. The police have never contacted me about anything of the sort, even though I am a co-organizer of this event. I absolute reject that," Baláž told news server Romea.cz.
The restaurant owner claims to have offered catering services to the organizers of the event, which they allegedly refused, arranging instead for water and other beverages on their own. The musical evening at the Kyje House of Culture, which is free of charge, is organized by the Social Enterprise with a great deal of support from the Prague 14 Musical Department and is part of International Romani Day celebrations.
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