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Right-wing extremists supporting Czech President blocked from marching through Prague's Jewish Town on 17 November

18.11.2016 21:14
A march by right-wing extremists in support of Czech President Miloš Zeman took place on 17 November 2016 in Prague. (PHOTO:  Vít Hassan)
A march by right-wing extremists in support of Czech President Miloš Zeman took place on 17 November 2016 in Prague. (PHOTO: Vít Hassan)

On Thursday, 17 November 2016 a demonstration in support of Czech President Miloš Zeman was attended by roughly 400 people. Shortly after a musical performance by Tomáš Hnídek Ortel, a former member of the neo-Nazi group Conflict 88, the demonstration was officially ended.

Subsequently a unified anti-government march, called "Strength in Unity: For Human Freedom and Real Democracy", took place. The march was organized by the ultra- nationalist Lucie Hašková of the "For Our Culture and a Safe Country" group, together with the militant initiative National Militia (Národní domobrana).

One of those in the crowd of Zeman's supporters in the initial demonstration was Adam B. Bartoš, who has been convicted of making antisemitic remarks and represents the ultra-nationalist National Democracy party. Right at the beginning of the march a bizarre rupture occurred among the nationalists when the antisemite Jan Čáka was accused of betraying his friends to the police and was stripped of the vest worn by the other conveners of the event.

Hašková led the march together with a member of the board of National Militia, Marek Obrtel, as well as right-wing radicals known from many other demonstrations. In front of the Israeli Embassy some of the marchers shouted: "Down with Israel!" as well as "Fuck Islam!", "Islam Can Go To Hell!" or "Burn Down the Mosques!"

Marchers also chanted the slogan "Bohemia for the Czechs!" The procession by roughly 300 nationalists headed along the Chotkový sady park, through Klárov, where the Office of the Government is, and onto the Mánes Bridge, where it was stopped by a blockade of roughly 50 young antifascist men and women shouting slogans such as "¡No pasarán!" and "Nazis - No Chance!"

The antifascists were warned by riot police that if they did not leave the location, force would be used against them. A group of riot police with dogs then arrived at the scene, so those participating in the blockade dispersed.

Shortly thereafter, in front of the Faculty of Arts building of Charles University, riot police intervened against a participant in the blockade who failed to obey their orders. Roughly 250 antifascists blocked the nationalists' path to the Jewish Town once again on Křížovnická Street, shouting "¡No pasarán!", "Nazis Go Home, Refugees Welcome!", "No Fascists Here!", and "You're in the wrong century!"

The nationalists were ultimately forced to change the route of their march. The antifascists and some journalists were subsequently surrounded by roughly 100 riot police and allegedly were asked for their identification and photographed.

Several participants of the antifascist blockade and one photographer were arrested and taken to the police station. The center of of Prague was inexorably "locked down" by groups of riot police who would not let journalists through, citing security reasons.

A group of nationalists from the march (whose éminence grise is the radical Adam B. Bartoš) gave several brief speeches in front of their destination, the Bethlehem Chapel, and sang the Czech national anthem before peacefully dispersing. No other incidents happened between them and the antifascists.

Vít Hassan, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Extremism, Neo-Nazism, Demonstrace, Xenophobia



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