Ultra-right extremists riot in center of Prague, Czech Police intervene and arrest racist activist
Police in Prague arrested the chair of the right-wing extremist National Democracy (ND) party, Adam B. Bartoš, on Saturday, 26 May at a demonstration against "Islamicization". Four other demonstrators were arrested later in the day.
Bartoš called for the country's political leadership to be sanctioned with "the highest punishment" over its approach toward immigrants, while the others arrested had attempted to continue the event even after those demonstrating had been called upon by city officials and police to disperse. One of those organizers proceeded to assault a police officer.
Prague Police spokesperson Jan Daněk informed the Czech News Agency of the outcome of the day's events. Several hundred demonstrators assembled on Wenceslas Square and riot police had to intervene.
The event was convened by the "For Our Culture and a Safe Country" movement and by ND and was supported by the Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS). Bartoš criticized the Czech Government in his speech, stating that it had already tripped up its own citizens more than once, and gave the EU's recent agreement with Turkey as an example.
The EU-Turkey agreement presumes that asylum-seekers arriving from Turkey by sea who are not granted asylum by Greece will then be returned to Turkey. For every Syrian citizen among those asylum-seekers returned from Greece, the EU is supposed to accept a Syrian refugee entitled to asylum who is still waiting in the system in Turkey.
Bartoš said that migrants, thanks to this agreement, are now able to spread even further throughout Europe. "This is not just some kind of dilatoriness or incompetence on the part of the Government, this is the conscious building up of the country's demoralization. This is the murder of the fatherland. This is treason and it must be sanctioned with the highest punishment," Bartoš said.
Immediately after the ultra-nationalist uttered those words, police officers arrested him and took him away. Shortly before 15:00 CET, Prague City Hall staffers called upon those participating in the event to disperse.
The demonstrators refused to abandon their previously announced plans to march on the headquarters of the Czech Social Democratic Party at the People's House in Hybernská Street. Officers prevented from doing so by closing off that street from both ends.
The sparse crowd then returned to Wenceslas Square despite the police calling upon them to disperse more than once. Back on the square, one of the speakers used a megaphone to urge participants to march on the Old Town Square.
Police arrested him as several demonstrators attempted to prevent them from doing so. In front of the People's House an assembly "For a Healthy Society" had been convened as a counter-demonstration by the Young Social Democrats.
"Our aim is to demonstrate that unlike these anti-system parties, whose aim is mainly to spark fear in society, the Government led by Bohuslav Sobotka is offering actual solutions to the problems of Czech society," organizers of that event said. Bartoš had made the news 14 days ago when he incited people against receiving refugees in the South Bohemian town of Tábor.
In the speech he gave there, Bartoš referred to refugees with the racist slur "smokes". Police did not intervene against him on that occasion.
Last week Bartoš and his fellow party member Ladislav Zemánek were convicted of making anti-Jewish remarks at the grave of Anežka Hrůzová in the town of Polná, a verdict that has yet to take effect. Czech President Zeman's spokesperson, Jiří Ovčáček, tweeted the following comment in response to arrest of Bartoš today: "The difference between A. B. Bartoš and those who desecrated the standard of the President of the Republic and the state flag in Prague = 0."
That remark is a reference to a prank by the Ztohoven ("This Way Out") group in which the presidential standard was removed from Prague Castle and replaced with red boxer shorts, as well as to an incident in the early morning hours of Saturday 26 March when someone spray-painted a dark color on more than 50 Chinese flags that had been hung in anticipation of the Chinese President's visit to Prague on Monday. Bartoš has previously enjoyed the favor of the Office of the President, however - he was invited on 28 October 2013 as an official guest to a ceremony awarding state honors at Prague Castle.
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