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October 26, 2020

 

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Facebook says it may disallow pages of far-right Czech party and its leaders

22.7.2020 7:11
The Czech politician Tomio Okamura (2019) (Aktron / Wikimedia Commons)
The Czech politician Tomio Okamura (2019) (Aktron / Wikimedia Commons)

Facebook has threatened to close the pages of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement in the Czech Republic and those of its chair, Tomio Okamura, and Vice-Chair Radim Fiala. The SPD announced the news in a press release on 14 July and said the social media company referenced alleged violations of their rules for using the platform as the reason.

Representatives of SPD reject the allegations and say that if their pages are closed down they plan to defend themselves in court. The Czech News Agency (ČTK) reported the news before reaching Facebook for comment.

On the Facebook pages of Fiala and the SPD movement the following warning appeared: "Your page may no longer be published as a consequence of its ongoing violation of community standards." SPD spokesperson Barbora Zeťová provided a screenshot of that warning from Fiala's page to ČTK.

According to the SPD spokesperson, there was also a reference to several posts on Okamura's page which, according to Facebook, violated community standards, but the party chair rejects that accusation. In his view, the posts that he shared did not violate the rules of the social network.

"We consider this an attack on our civic freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the disruption of equal, free and unrestrained competition among political parties," Okamura said. The SPD claims the closing of their Facebook pages would constitute a violation of competition among parties because profiles on the social network are a means of communicating with voters.

If Facebook closes the movement's profile and those of its two leading representatives, they intend to defend themselves in court. Okamura emphasized that the rules of the social network cannot be "privileged" over constitutional rights and law.

Extremist groups on the right as traditionally understood have ceased to be politically relevant because the SPD has worked more effectively with their agenda. The Czech Interior Ministry's Department of Security Policy published that assessment in its Report on Extremism for the first quarter of this year.

The unacceptable speech referenced in that report was about the buyout of the industrial pig farm at Lety because it overlapped the former site of a WWII-era concentration camp used to imprison Romani people prior to their being sent to Auschwitz. The Interior Ministry reported that police had begun to investigate three members of the movement and that its secretary, Jaroslav Staník, had also been charged for racist remarks he made in a restaurant on the grounds of the lower house.

The SPD, according to the Interior Ministry, engages in an ongoing critique, choses similar subject matter to that of the extreme right, and holds similar opinions about those issues to the opinions of extremists. In some cases, party representatives have spoken in even more radical than those already associated with the ultra-right. 

fk, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Facebook, Svoboda a přímá demokracie (SPD), Tomio Okamura, ultra-right



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