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Czech tabloid must withdraw article full of lies and racial hatred about Romani children

Nové město pod Smrkem, 13.11.2013 23:25, (ROMEA)
A screenshot of the racist article - the headline reads
A screenshot of the racist article - the headline reads "Roma bully children at primary school in Nové město pod Smrkem" (2013).

The tabloid news server Zprávyextra.cz has published a mendacious, racist article about bullying at a primary school in the town of Nové město pod Smrkem alleging that insolent Romani reprobates bully children there with impunity and that the school is doing nothing about it. After a protest was lodged by the school management, the article was taken offline and is available only through the Google archive. 

The article sparked a wave of racist responses on the internet. Full of unsupported invective against Romani people in general and the school management in particular, the piece claimed Romani teenagers were bullying their younger schoolmates.  

"The insolence of Romani 'inadaptable' juvenile pupils knows no bounds! These Romani 'reprobates', as the parents of the children whom they are physically and psychologically abusing and bullying correctly call them today, are daring to intentionally bully and harm weaker children who are unable to defend themselves. Today they are assaulting their schoolmates, tomorrow it will be their teacher, and the day after tomorrow it could be you, because these teenagers have no inborn inhibitions, and definitely none of the basics of a decent upbringing. The parents, therefore, are of the justified opinion - with which our editors also identify - that these trouble-making children should not attend this classic primary school, but should attend a specialized one where the regime would be adapted for them," read the article on Zprávyextra.cz.   

The information about a specific case of bullying was received by the tabloid from a pupil's father and was not verified by them with any other source. "On Wednesday 6 November 2013, just before the end of recess, my son went to the bathroom, where four older Romani schoolmates, all from the same class, grabbed him. One got him in a choke-hold and did his best to shove his head, for no reason whatsoever, into the toilet bowl, but he broke free and tried to run away. They grabbed him again and began brutally beating him against the wall. Luckily, another schoolmate of his saw this and ran to tell the head teacher. When the teacher came into the toilet, she did her best to get these trouble-making Romani teenagers to apologize, but they said 'fuck off, you old cow' and laughed in her face. My son told me this at home with tears in his eyes. He confided to me that these teenagers have forced other schoolmates to eat chili peppers and have done the same things to them that they did to my son," the father of the allegedly bullied boy is quoted by the tabloid as having told them.     

School director Michaela Smutná posted the following statement about this mendacious article on the school's website:  "Given that an anonymously authored article about our school has been published online by a tabloid paper that is full of lies and racial hatred, we consider it necessary to respond... the culprits involved in this incident were not only Romani, none of those involved verbally insulted any educators at the school, no one pushed anyone else's head into a toilet bowl, and no one brutally smashed anyone else into a wall.... Since the school feels harmed by the publication of this untrue information, the school leadership is considering filing criminal charges against the tabloid for spreading a false alarm. We recommend to the author of the article, whoever that is, that he should have first contacted our primary school prior to publishing such lies and nonsense, as he would have received more precise information about this incident."    

"This is about a case I actually witnessed last week at the school. I caught a group of pupils bullying their schoolmate. The culprits were not only Romani, as the unsigned article online reports," the director told news server Deník.cz.

The mendacious article sparked a wave of commentary online among local people. It was shared by dozens of people through social networking sites, often with racist commentaries.

The director says the untrue information has greatly harmed the school. "We have already agreed with the internet portal that published this anonymous, unsigned report that they will block the link to it," Smutná said.

The director said she immediately responded to the bullying at the school by following all of the methodological guidelines on such incidents. "That same day we interviewed the victim and the witnesses, and we immediately informed the victim's mother. We also consulted the case with the head of the local police department. Two days later the parents of the culprits also met with us. Now I will be discussing with our faculty how to punish the children who did this bullying," the school director explained. 

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Média, Racism, Šikana, Vzdělávání, antigypsyism, Czech Republic, Education, Internet, intolerance, news, Roma



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