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Facebook pages of Czech MP and mayor spreading racism

Prague, 20.5.2011 18:21, (ROMEA)

The Facebook page of Czech MP Jiří Šulc (Civic Democrats - ODS) features photographs next to a text calling for Czech Roma people to be resettled in Haiti. Czech Television reports the image was up for more than a year. Šulc claims to know nothing about it. After Czech Television pointed the photograph out to him, he removed it from his profile. The Facebook page of the Mayor of Kmetiněves, Luděk Kvapil, also features a similarly racist contribution.

Šulc claims to have no memory of placing the photograph, with the subtitle "If they want aid, let's make it real aid", on his profile page, even though he is listed as the page's author. "I know nothing about it, if something like that is there, I will have it removed," he told Czech Television. He refused a further interview and the photograph was gone by the afternoon.

According to Martin Šimáček, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion of Roma, such photographs on the Facebook pages of politicians merely serve to incite tensions in the regions, which are already rather problematic as it is. He believes the incident may even rise to the level of a felony. "On the one had it is a racial attack on the Roma population in the Czech Republic, but it is also unacceptable given what has happened in Haiti," Šimáček said.

This is not Šulc's first problem with controversial pronouncements. Prior to the regional elections in October 2008, he put up posters with the slogan "Gadje [non-Roma people], get to work, so we [Roma] can have a better life". The case was investigated by police and shelved for lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.

Luděk Kvapil, the Mayor of Kmetiněves who was also a TOP 09 candidate in the March Senate by-elections, posted the following message on his Facebook wall on the International Day of the Fight against HOMOPHOBIA: "...on the level! Homosexuals do not bother me as long as they don't do anything offensive, but Gypsies certainly bother me completely!! even when they don't do anything offensive to piss people off - which basically doesn't exist!!! :-)))"

Kvapil then defended his racist opinions during a subsequent discussion when several Facebook users objected to the mayor's racism. He did not hesitate to continue to spread untrue rumors about the case of a death in Přerov. "The Gypsies in Přerov attacked and beat a boy at the train station after he complained they had cut in front of him in line. The boy succumbed to his injuries," Kvapil posted to Facebook on 12 May. In April police reported the incident in Přerov took place under completely other circumstances than those being described on the internet by racists.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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