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ODS chair Topolánek makes scandalous remarks about churches, gays and Jews

Prague, 21.3.2010 21:06, (ROMEA)

Czech PM Jan Fischer has called “insulting and stupid” remarks made recently by ODS chair Mirek Topolánek about churches, gays and Jews. In a press statement released today, Fischer said he will restrict his future communication with the party chair to the absolute minimum required to conduct business: "I consider the remarks by ODS chair Mirek Topolánek about the nature of churches, homosexuals, and Jews to be – diplomatically speaking – insulting, off-target, and stupid. He bears sole responsibility for them."

Topolánek’s remarks were made during a photo shoot for LUI magazine, which targets a gay audience. "Gustav Slamečka - if things get tough, really tough, I have the feeling he’ll fold as minister. As for that Fischer, he’s a Jew, he’s not gay, and he’ll fold even sooner. It doesn’t have anything to do with being gay, it has to do with his character," said Topolánek according to a transcript of the interview which ODS spokesperson Martin Kupka provided to the Czech Press Agency. The statements were published by the blesk.cz server.

At first Topolánek sharply protested the publication of other remarks he made about the church during the photo shoot. "I reject the intentional misuse of quotes from my informal interview with the editor of LUI," Topolánek told the Czech Press Agency on Saturday through Kupka.

Czech Social Democratic vice-chair Bohuslav Sobotka responded to the remarks by saying Topolánek’s remarks had offended all people of faith and he should apologize. "It is completely unbelievable that Topolánek, who profiles himself as a conservative politician, is using vocabulary about the church that would do the worst communists from the normalization era proud," Sobotka wrote. "I call on Mirek Topolánek to apologize for these abusive statements,” he told the Czech Press Agency.

"I call on Mirek Topolánek to leave public life. Otherwise we will not only feel ashamed over his miserable remarks, we will have to apologize for them at home and abroad,” Czech Social Democratic chair Paroubek told the Czech Press Agency. Paroubek said it was not the first time that Topolánek’s fascination with fascism had come through in his remarks.

Topolánek eventually apologized for his remarks. "I apologize. I apologize to gay people, both to my gay friend and to everyone else. I apologize to members of the church, both those I know and those I don’t know. I apologize to Jews, both those in politics and those not in politics. I apologize to the citizenry,” Topolánek wrote in a letter today. He claimed his intentions were not to contribute to the fomenting of hatred, but to express the opinion that people should not be judged by their sexual orientation or church membership. He also sent a personal SMS apology to both Fischer and Slamečka.

"I am aware of his apology. However, it is not my role to absolve or judge Mirek Topolánek. I will be restricting our communication to the minimum necessary to conduct business,” Fischer responded.

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