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Czech Greens call on Prague Vice-Mayor to stop sharing racist video

24.11.2017 12:33
Alexander Bellu (PHOTO: Facebook page of Alexander Bellu)
Alexander Bellu (PHOTO: Facebook page of Alexander Bellu)

Green Party members from the Žižkov neighborhood of Prague have published an open letter to Vice-Mayor Alexander Bellu (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) asking that he stop sharing a racist video on his Facebook page promoting his project for parking sensors for the Prague 3 Municipal Department. In the stylized video, a comedian tells a joke about "millions" of Romani people waiting near parking spaces for the opportunity to steal a car.

The Vice-Mayor then responds to the joke in the video by promising to introduce a system in Prague 3 that allegedly will make it easier for people seeking parking spaces. "We published our request on our website and sent it also by regular mail. We hope we will not have to wait long for a response from the Vice-Mayor. As Greens, we believe it is necessary to take care of democracy every single day, and it is not possible to ignore the constant pushing of the envelope on what it is possible to be allowed to do or say as an elected representative. Racism is unaccepable to us," said the co-chair of the Green Party cell in Prague 3, Petra Jelínková.

"We believe you will consider our request responsibly and that you will not seek immediate political gain by irresponsibly inciting people against each other, especially at a time when democratic parties should be allied in defending against the 'solutions' of the populist forces in this country," concludes the letter, which was signed by all eight members of the Council of the Establishing Organization of the Green Party in Žižkov. The Green Party, which has approximately 70 members in Prague 3 and which is currently in the opposition there, also emphasized in the letter that the racist video is being disseminated at a time when assaults on minorities in the Czech Republic are once again increasing.

Full translation of the Prague 3 Green Party cell's Open Letter to Alexander Bellu 

Dear Mr Vice-Mayor,

We are turning to you as Green Party members and as citizens of Prague 3 represented by you to request that you take down the video you published to your Facebook page on 9 November of this year which was obviously filmed directly to promote you, which is primarily being shared publicly by you in particular, and which exploits a stereotypical perception of national minorities in Czech society. Exactly such apparently harmless jokes on the subject of "Gypsies stealing" represent the mainstream racism that is contributing to the creation of a society-wide atmosphere in which people focus their anger on those who are most vulnerable.

The right-wing cliché that each of us enjoys the same chances in life appears especially ridiculous when young Roma, from the beginnings of their social lives, are forced by the rest of us to demonstrate that they are not "like everybody says they are". It makes an even worse impression when, at the close of the video, you appear in the guise of a "reasonable element" without objecting to what has just been said.

By means of the authority you enjoy as Vice-Mayor of our municipal department, you are legitimizing the stereotypical perception of Romani men and women in our society. Moreover, the clip gives the impression that the point of the Smart City parking sensor concept is to aid people with their "difficulties with the Roma".

That impression misrepresents the Smart City brand and misrepresents what the mission of a responsible representative of a municipal department should be. We believe you will consider our request responsibly and that you will not seek immediate political gain by irresponsibly inciting people against each other, especially at a time when democratic parties should be allied in defending against the "solutions" of the populist forces in this country. 

Best wishes,

Petra Jelínková, Bob Čáp, Monika Bunžová, Filip Hausknecht, Lucie Hradecká, Matěj Michalk Žaloudek, Ondřej Rut, Rebeka Vadasová

Council of the Establishing Organization of the Green Party in Prague 3

press release of the Green Party of the Czech Republic (Prague 3 cell), translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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