VIDEO: "We don't want Fascists here" - protests against Prague meeting of xenophobic parties from around Europe
Several hundred demonstrators whistling loudly and shouting "Shame!" and "Down with Fascists!" arrived at Prague's TOP Hotel today, where a meeting of representatives of anti-immigration parties from around Europe was being held. Demonstrators assembled at the Roztyly metro station at 14:00 and peacefully marched from there to the hotel carrying European Union flags.
The conference of political parties seated in the European Parliament's Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group, who are united by their skepticism about European integration, by their sense of nationalism, and by their dislike of immigration, is being convened by the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement of Czech MP Tomio Okamura. "We want to demonstrate that the Czech Republic is not indifferent to displays of hatred and the dissemination of disinformation that the SPD does so profusely, and we want to express our protest against all of this in a non-violent way," protest organizer Jan Cemper told the Czech News Agency.
"These people are not interested in dialogue. These people do not deserve our tolerance," Gál said.
Anna Dumont, director of the Consortium of NGOs Working with Migrants, then gave a speech, followed by former Czech Ambassador to France Petr Janyška and by Hayato Okamura, brother of Tomio, who ran in the recent elections as a candidate for the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and who has strongly objected to his brother's politics. The civic initiatives marched to the hotel just before 15:00, where they created a "gauntlet of shame" for the arriving delegates and listened to several speeches.
The event at the hotel lasted roughly one hour. Protesters chanted "Shame" and whistled at the conference attendees as they arrived.
Speakers addressing the demonstrators discussed the fact that populist parties like France's Front National are just surfing a wave of dissatisfaction without having any actual political focus. Some speakers repeatedly emphasized that the chair of the Czech Republic's SPD is a liar.
Police officers guarded the hotel entrance along with a group of people wearing reflective vests inscribed with "Freedom and Direct Democracy". The Prague Police announced they had deployed dozens of police officers and a helicopter to the neighborhood of the hotel.
Police spokesperson Tomáš Hulan told the press that the conference organizer's security service was guarding the private areas of the hotel on its own. Another several hundred demonstrators also blockaded the access roads to the hotel.
News server Romea.cz has learned that three of the four access roads were blockaded and that those participating in the blockades managed to delay the beginning of the conference because some attendees could not get into the hotel. Police riot officers oversaw the course of the blockade and at one moment pushed the demonstrators back so that those arriving could pass.
On Friday evening several hundred people also assembled for a protest march through Prague. Those attending the ENF conference called "For a Europe of Sovereign Nations" were meant to have been welcomed to the Czech Chamber of Deputies by Czech MP Tomio Okamura yesterday as well.
Okamura told the Czech News Agency that according to the invited politicians, the European Union should be replaced by collaboration among sovereign countries but that the existing free movement of capital, goods, persons and services should be preserved. Their Friday meeting was closed and Okamura did not want to publicize what time it would begin because some attendees had received threats.
Failed French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician opposed to the religion of Islam, were scheduled to come to Prague for the ENF conference. The event was also to have been attended by Lorenzo Fontana, a representative of Italy's Northern League and by Georg Mayer, a representative of Austria's FPÖ.
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