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Exhibition maps Romani image in Czech media and the modern history of Jewish and Romani people

Prague, 23.3.2012 19:24, (ROMEA)
The Exibition against Racism in Prague's Lucerna complex.

The public benefit corporation OPONA is presenting an Exhibition against Racism as part of the Lucerna complex's event against racism which opened this week. The exhibit is on display in the Lucerna complex on Wenceslas Square in Prague in the area between the cinema and the entrance to the concert hall. The exhibition features 20 panels on how the Czech media approaches the Romani issue and the basics of the modern history of Jewish and Romani people. It will be on display until the end of April.

Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková spoke at the opening of the exhibition, as did the director of o.p.s. OPONA, Pavla Kantnerová, and the author of the exhibit's section on the media image of Romani people, František Kostlán of the ROMEA association. That section is comprised of 10 panels describing the prejudices, stereotypes and untruths about Romani people that turn up in the media. It also describes information that media outlets either silence or to which they do not devote enough attention. The exhibit includes a detailed description of the journalistic hoax published by Parlamentní listy regarding the alleged establishment of a Romani political party which was then allegedly robbed by its own treasurer. The story was reprinted by most Czech media outlets without verifying it at all. In addition to discussing the most infamous stereotyes, the exhibition also analyzes the often-used expressions "majority society", "inadaptables", and other media shorthand terms.

Part of the exhibition addresses the media's approach to the unrest in Šluknov district last fall. It was the media who prompted that unrest through their misleading, one-sided reporting about a brawl between two gangs in the town of Rumburk.

There are also much harsher sections of the exhibit that cover racist online discussions and slogans used during public demonstrations. A very sad section shows how the arson attacks against Romani people which have received the most publicity were preceded by other arson attacks to which neither the media nor the police ever gave enough attention, if they gave them attention at all. The exhibit includes photographs of neo-Nazi events from the archive of news server Romea.cz, including the response of human rights defenders and Romani people to those events.

Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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