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May 23, 2022



Drahomír Radek Horváth: I don't know where to stand on fear of immigrants and Islam

30.7.2015 23:48
Drahomír Radek Horváth (photo: Saša Uhlová)
Drahomír Radek Horváth (photo: Saša Uhlová)

I am not a paranoid person and I don't generalize, I judge people by the quality of their character, not their skin color, I tolerate other opinions, religions, sexual orientations, etc. Simply put, as a member of a national minority I have "enjoyed" plenty of generalizations about Roma in my own life.  

I am capable of empathy. I understand the moral obligations of the Czech Republic as a Member State of the EU.  

On the other hand, I have my own strange train of thought on this issue, one that is not influenced by any initiatives undertaken by the demonstrators or counter-demonstrators. This is most probably due to a mixture of the local patriot in me, as the offspring of one of the first Romani families to settle in a depopulated Sudeten town after WWII, and of the homebody and lover of the customs and rituals introduced here.    

Moreover, I am influenced by a basic feeling of responsibility for my own family, for my life partner who is the mother of my two children, a seven-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, the obligation to give them the best of myself and to be their mainstay and protector. Also, as a Catholic, I am 100 % sure that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one thing, and only that context of unity is what I call "Akbar" (the greatest).  

I don't detract anything from anyone else's opinion that Allah is Akbar, but my own point of view on this is clear. For example, I have several Albanian friends here in Děčín whom I have known for 20 or more years.  

I know they are Muslims, and out of decency and respect for them, I always great them with "Salam alaikum". None of them is a fundmentalist and it has never even occurred to them to pressure me to convert to Islam since they know of my Christian faith.

I have read the Koran and I know what the difference is between Shiites and Sunnis. However, this life awareness and experience is not calming to me, and I am not at all certain how I might respond if a number of people who are culturally and religiously diametrically opposed to me, families with different customs, moved into my peaceful neighborhood.

I am aware that I am not the prototype of either a cosmopolitan or a multiculturalist. Even though my partnership is a mixed one and I also have many German friends in neighboring Saxony, I am proud to be Romani - I cannot be considered something that I actually am not.

I am not attuned to different ways of behavior that might clash with our locally introduced customs and morale. I don't have so much tolerance in me that I can reconcile myself to the idea that a mosque would stand next to my house and the muezzin would wake me up with his penetrating voice, not just before dawn and after sunset, but also during the night, and that during Ramadan there would be a sixth nighttime prayer following the fifth one.  

Last year when I visited Pristina in Kosovo that custom seemed so exotic to me that I am now rather concerned about it, overall. I am also concerned about the marked difference and potential danger in the form of a radical fanatic who might choose our local Synagogue as a target, which is located on the way to the zoo and is where I regularly take walks with my children (at the zoo, not the Synagogue, although I have been there several times as well).  

Many catastrophic scenarios whirl through my head. I am always concerned that I will not be capable of protecting my children and my wife if needed.  

The risk of something like this is directly proportional to the number of individuals who have the potential to fully place their actions and behavior into the hands of their God. Certain things just cross the line.  

Not only are certain things taboo, they don't even fall onto the scale of what is considered feasible. For example, I know the entire large local Romani community here, which is more than 2 500 individuals.  

I would never think for a second that any of them could perform some sort of monstrous terrorist act. Nothing of the sort has ever happened and never will.

The Romani temper is much more influenced by Euro-Christian morality than it might seem. As a result of spending centuries in Europe, the Roma are Europeans like every other nation here.

There are no cultural or religious differences among us in the Czech Republic. There is also not much of a language barrier.  

Our degree of adjustment to the social system and our skin color are what de facto define Romani people in Czech society. If, however, Romani people are employed and live orderly lives without being dependent on state aid, then I don't see any basic difference between us and the other citizens of our state.

Now, however, I observe that I am afraid, not of the unknown (I'm no primitive), but of what I have witnessed for years through the media, what I have followed at a distance from the comfort of my living room. I am afraid of the horrors of the war that refugees are fleeing in the Middle East and other distant countries and heading our way.  

These people, understandably, bring the trauma of wartime conflicts with them. The question is:  What prevents individuals who have recently committed atrocities in their fight for their "holy cause" from doing the same thing here too?  

I have no insight into their moods and whims. I don't know how determined they are just to flee everything or, on the contrary, how prepared they are to bring the conflict with them here.  

The only thing I know is that if someone is capable of committing a suicide attack on civilians irrespective of whether they are children or women, and if their God rewards them in the afterlife for that, then there is a need to be on the alert. They have considered such combat methods conventional since the first intifada of the Palestinians in the 1980s.  

No one should be surprised that I am considering this, or that I am grieved by the fact that I have no way to prevent something like this. I will not, however, go to demonstrate against the arrival in the Czech Republic of immigrants from Islamic countries side-by-side with individuals who make me want to vomit whenever I hear their rousing speeches.

I will not stand in a crowd of people who are waving a gallows and a noose over their heads. I love Czechs, I love my Czech Republic, I get along with people from neighboring states, and I go to Germany every week - more frequently than I go to Ústí nad Labem, which is just 20 kilometers away.  

I do not see a problem in people of different citizenship or nationalities. A problem could arise, though, as a result of absolutely different cultures and opinions.  

Religion, when it tilts toward fundamentalism, plays a basic role in this problem. As I said at the beginning, I am not paranoid, and that is why I am angry with myself for even having this train of thought.  

As a person who thinks through such matters of principle thoroughly, though, I have no other choice. If the possibility of a certain danger does exist, my brain will not give me a moment's peace.  

I'm still talking about certain possibilities - I don't dare use the word "probability" here. I am just considering certain horror scenarios.

What I have come to realize more and more is the fact that I cannot influence anything ahead of time. I cannot, through my own power, eliminate the eventual risk.  

I will simply be forced to passively wait for whatever is going to happen, which is stressful. In the end I would so like to be able to tell to myself that I'm just a crazy scaredy-cat.

Original reprinted with the author's permission from his blog on Aktuálně.cz.

The opinions published on do not necessarily reflect the opinions or standpoint of the editors of news server, Romano voďi magazine, or ROMEA, o.p.s
Drahomír Radek Horváth, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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