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Czech anti-racism initiative says assault on Syrian man caused by xenophobic atmosphere

4.2.2016 19:35
Competing demonstrations against receiving refugees and in favor of receiving them, Wenceslas Square, Prague, 18 July 2015 (PHOTO:  bau)
Competing demonstrations against receiving refugees and in favor of receiving them, Wenceslas Square, Prague, 18 July 2015 (PHOTO: bau)

According to the anti-Fascists in the "No to Racism" Initiative, which is convening a demonstration in Prague this coming Saturday against hatred, the recently-reported assault on a Syrian man there is one consequence of the atmosphere being created by xenophobic movements in Czech society. "No to Racism" will be assembling to denounce such hatred.

The demonstration, entitled "Solidarity without Limits:  Action Day against Fortress Europe" will begin at 13:30 CET on Malostranské náměstí in Prague and is part of a Europe-wide day of action supported by groups from 10 European countries. Other Czech anti-Fascist groups will assemble at that same time for a different demonstration at the open space on Pohořelec Street in Prague.

Xenophobic movements are also planning to demonstrate on Saturday, and the anti-Fascists from "No to Racism" consider it essential that those movements not be allowed to dominate the public space. "Last weekend there was a racially-motivated attack in Prague, and such assaults are the consequence of the atmosphere the xenophobic movements are creating in society," said Jan Blažek, the press spokesperson for "No to Racism".

Such attacks are a daily reality in other European countries. In neighboring Germany, ever since the PEGIDA movement began - with which Czech right-wing populists from the "Bloc against Islam" collaborate - the number of attacks against refugee accommodation facilities has reportedly roughly tripled to an average of three per day.

"The connection between dissemination of hatred for migrants and assaults on them is absolutely apparent," a statement issued by "No to Racism" reads. Groups involved in both of the upcoming demonstrations against xenophobia in Prague have issued a joint declaration that states:  "We do not intend to escalate the situation, nor do we intend to back down in front of the xenophobes. Each group involved chooses its own form of protest and bears responsibility for it. We are in solidarity with all who identify with our aim and we respect the differences among us."

According to "No to Racism", Islamophobes in the country are doing their best to characterize the anti-racist demonstrations as scandalous, violent efforts to spark civil war. "In that light, the statements published by the Facebook page of 'We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic' seem to be an effort to intentionally spark panic," Blažek said.

The anti-racist demonstrations are taking place as part of the same Action Day in 11 European cities. One demonstration is even taking place in the Moroccan city of Rabat.

The aim of the Action Day is to criticize the growing xenophobia and restrictive migration policies in the European states as intensifying the entire situation. The Day of Action is supported by left-wing groups and social movements from Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Greece, Poland and Sweden.

Supporters include several international networks such as the European-wide platform "Beyond Europe", which last year supported protests against the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and organized a camp in Greece. Saturday's demonstration on Malostranské náměstí in Prague will be addressed by political scientist and university instructor Ondřej Slačálek and others and will include a brief march.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Demonstrace, Extremism, Islamofobie, Racism, refugee



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