Czech Republic: Islamophobic demonstration greeted by counter-protest
convened their own assembly nearby, numbering about 200.
Bohumil Maláška, spokesperson for the police, said officers had not had to address any difficulties. Participants freely moved from one assembly to the other disputing which is the greater threat - hatred and intolerance, or Islam.
The first event was convened by the "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" initiative. Its representative Martin Konvička called Islam a "dreadfully dumb and stupid" teaching in his opening remarks.
Konvička believes that Islam does not belong in the Czech Republic. "People will defend themselves against it," he said.
Former Czech MP Jana Volfová and other speakers addressed the crowd in a similar vein. Organizers had chosen today, the St. Valentine's day holiday, intentionally.
They claimed that it would not be acceptable in Islam to celebrate a feast-day of love. However, instead of carrying symbols of love, those participating in the demonstration carried banners against Islam as well as Bohemian and Moravian flags.
The main emblem of the event was that of mosque with an x through it. The demonstrators believe Islam poses a threat to the world, including the Czech Republic.
"The very essence of this hateful ideology is the control and seizure of countries," Martin Duben, a demonstrator from Pardubice, told the Czech News Agency. Most of those participating followed the organizers' instructions not to speak with journalists.
Valentines for Konvička
In response to the "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" assembly, civic initiatives, the Green Party and the Live in Brno (Žít Brno) movement convened a demonstration advocating freedom of religion and minority rights, called "Valentines for Konvička". The event began with an ecumenical mass and ended with the waving of pink paper hearts in the direction of the Islamophobic assembly as symbolic valentines to its organizer.
"Generalizations have always sparked hatred and led to violence," warned Green Party chair Jana Drápalová. A stand with literature about Islam was also set up at the assembly advocating tolerance by Matouš Vencálek, a religious studies student.
"A great deal of disinformation is being disseminated by those opposed to Islam. We can provide those interested with the broader cultural and historical context," Vencálek told the Czech News Agency.
According to the available information there are several hundred Muslims living in Brno. The first mosque in the Czech Republic has functioned there since 1998.
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