Romani celebrity faces racist comments, death threats from fans of xenophobic band Ortel
Radek Banga, the lead singer for the band Gipsy.cz, is facing racist commentaries and threats from fans of the xenophobic music group Ortel after publishing a statement about the results of the Czech Nightingale (Český Slavík) 2016 audience poll. The disinformation and right-wing extremist news servers in the Czech Republic have also begun to wage a campaign against him. On his Facebook profile, however, people are also appreciating the position he has taken and expressing support for him. News server Romea.cz was the first to publish the singer's opinions just after the audience poll results were announced and has also become a target of threats.
Banga, together with several other performers, left the theater where the results of the survey were being announced to protest the xenophobic group. "My forebears were in a concentration camp. We must not tolerate Fascists in this survey. For God's sake, people, you have to discuss this, we cannot stay silen, we can't applaud this, we can't sit there and do nothing," Banga told news server Romea.cz shortly after leaving the theater.
On Sunday Banga published on Facebook a more detailed explanation as to why he had left the room. "I am asking my colleagues - actors, athletes, moderators, singers - WHO WERE YOU APPLAUDING? I'll tell you who - YOU WERE APPLAUDING NAZIS," Banga posted.
- Klimeš Jarda: ""If you don't like it that somebody is a nationalist, go back to your own country.""
- Jirka Líbal: "Go climb in a hole you gypsy“
- Vašík Nedbal: "Gypsies to the gas chambers“
- David Racz: "Banga, you gypsy parasite, drop dead already you motherfucking vagabond"
- Petr Jenda: "Fucking gypsy … Lord God, let's begin shooting them dead already, the vermin are parasites everywhere"
- Adam Rezáč: "May you be dead by morning you black filth"
Fans of the xenophobic Ortel group have reacted to Banga's opinion with racist threats, vulgar insults and also death threats. Commentaries have been posted to Facebook such as "Drop dead you racist swine!!!", "We need to purge it here, You are an example, Banga, you're in a foreign country so don't talk shit, if you don't like it here go somewhere else" and insults such as "Gypsy fucker, gypsy filth, darkie".
We asked Banga for his response to the discussion that his article has unleashed on Facebook: "I must point out that my commentary has more and more positive 'likes', so I believe my words have been mostly understood. There are fewer people who were insulted by them, in other words, the self-proclaimed 'decent, intelligent Czech citizens'. Anybody can come read the discussion underneath the article where I expressed my opinion and see for themselves the level of expression engaged in by these people who have perfectly mastered the Czech language and claim they are not antigypsyist, not antisemitic, not neo-nationalists, not racists and not xenophobic."
Banga is aware that few people take an active stance against neo-Nazi displays, but he hopes a wave of resistance will rise: "We cannot ignore their transparent symbolism any more. This cannot be tolerated in the public space. I still believe most people in Czech society do not think this way, that they do not espouse hatred. If they do, then we are lost as a society."
News server Romea.cz was the first to publish Banga's statement and several people posting to these online discussions are threatening to set its editorial offices on fire. Ondra Vlček posted to the Facebook page of the ROMEA organization: "Burn down all of Romea."
"We are taking legal advice on how to proceed against these threats. This is not the first time the ROMEA organization or its employees have been threatened by somebody," director Zdeněk Ryšavý said.
Ortel song was the anthem of the now-dissolved neo-Nazi Workers' Party
Critics of the Ortel band refer, for example, to the fact that Tomáš Ortel (original surname Hnídek), the lead singer, is also the founder of the cult neo-Nazi group Conflict 99 and attends right-wing extremist demonstrations. Right-wing extremist sympathy for him is also testified to by the fact that the dissolved neo-Nazi Workers' Party used Ortel's song "Hadr" ("Rag") as its anthem.
In the band Ortel, however, the lead singer behaves moderately, or rather, he makes sure his racist, ultra-right opinions are wrapped in legal garb and uses hidden symbolism, as in these lyrics: "Tomorrow morning will be white, the black stains are over there, I know that they really hurt you, my protective hand is above you". Music critic Vojtěch Libich explained previously that "Ortel's songs are marked by anti-Muslim, anti-Romani homophobic rhetoric, but all of it remains inside the limits of permitted references."
Banga also told news server Romea.cz why he believes the public appearances by the Ortel band are not just an expression of nationalism: "We must not look at Ortel only through the lens of his lyrics to the songs 'Mosque', 'Foreigner', or 'Rag', or at the symbol of the skull on his shirt, but we have to take it as a whole. Tomáš Ortel became famous among neo-Nazis as the founder of the neo-Bazi band Conflikt 88, in which his brother still plays. The evidence that he more than sympathizes with them and actively attends their concerts is all over the Internet. If he is claiming today that he 'just founded' the band, he's lying. In his statements he has distanced himself from the neo-Nazis, but the fact is that he is invited to and attends their public events, demonstrations and racist marches, and that the members of the music group closely, actively collaborate with neo-Nazi cells. Ortel is a symbol of the extreme right and if he alleges otherwise he is pissing against the wind," Banga said.
"Today's ultra-right learned how to walk in this atmosphere, how to move within the limits of the laws, which they also abuse for their aims. This ideology is exactly the same, the fans today just call themselves 'patriots', but this has nothing to do with patriotism. Božena Němcová was a patriot."
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