Extremist, anti-extremist marches may clash in Czech town
The Czech Jewish Liberal Union, the Romany Christian Association and the extremist Workers' Party (DS) as well as one local resident have announced they will hold marches in the central square in Litvinov, town hall secretary Alexandra Sixtova told CTK today.
The former two rallies are to be against racism and are likely to prevent an extremists' march to the local housing estate Janov, largely inhabited by Romanies.
The DS has called a rally for December 13, Sixtova said, while the resident has done so for November 27.
DS deputy chairman DS Petr Kotab said earlier rallies "against police brutality and for the solution to the problems with unadapted population" would repeat.
Kotab said the march announced for November 27 would be a protest by dissatisfied residents of the Janov housing estate.
The march is to reach the secondary school Schola Humanitas where local town hall members will have a meeting from 2:00 p.m., Kotab said.
DS chairman Tomas Vandas said today he did not yet know how the party would react if the town hall did not permit its meeting due to the events organised by other organisations.
"We will wait for the town hall's decision and we will then make our decision. It is thus impossible to anticipate whether we will arrive in Litvinov on the date we originally announced," Vandas said.
The previous extremists' marches had been held on October 4 and 18 and on November 17. The latter led to violent clashes between extremists and the police, with 16 injured.
The town hall accepted the first announcement from the Jewish Liberal Union on Friday afternoon and the other three this morning.
One resident of Prague has announced a march to the support of national socialism, the National Resistance and the DS from the namesti Miru square to the Janov housing estate on various days from November 29 to January 18, Sixtová said.
"We will evaluate all the announcements. If they comply with the assembly law, the date and time when they were announced will be decisive," Sixtova said.
"However, the law does not specify for how long a public area can be occupied," Sixtova said.
The Romanies' problematic coexistence with the majority population has prompted the DS to stage the recent marches in Janov that led to clashes with the police.
Pointing to what they call Romanies' abuse of welfare and noisy and disorderly way of life, some locals approved of the extremists' rallies.
The Jewish Liberal Union has used the tactic of announcing its own rallies at the moment when rightist militants were to meet. On November 10, 2007, on the anniversary of the 1938 Crystal Night pogrom, it precluded an extremists' march through the former Jewish Quarter in Prague.
The Prague Town Hall eventually proclaimed the planned extremists' march invalid.
According to Frantisek Fendrych, chairman of the Jewish Liberal Union based in Litvinov, the goal of the union announced meeting is to prevent racist expressions of both parties - the far-right radicals and the Romanies in a legal way.
"The situation in Janov has escalated and it influences some Romanies whose expressions are also racist. However, we do not want the solution to lie in extremist attacking Romanies with the tacit support of local residents who do not feel safe in their homes," Fendrych said.
"It is a matter of authorities and the government to solve the situation, for instance, by changing the housing legislation or the law on assembly," he said.
Fendrych said the current situation differed from last year's events that occurred in Prague on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1938 Crystal Night pogrom."
"Extremists then expressed their feelings not only towards contemporary living Jews, but against the Jewry as a whole. In Litvinov, they want to attack concrete Romanies who have provoked problems," Fendrych said.
"The government must prevent these clashes but it also must eliminate their cause which is moving unadaptable citizens to cheap flats," he said.
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