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International Islamic organization demands apology from Czech President, he won't budge

Prague, 11.6.2014 22:21, (ROMEA)
Czech President Miloš Zeman attended a commemorative ceremony on Saturday, 15 June 2013 on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the annihilation of the village of Lidice. (PHOTO:   S. Pítr, Facebook OV ČSBS Kladno)
Czech President Miloš Zeman attended a commemorative ceremony on Saturday, 15 June 2013 on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the annihilation of the village of Lidice. (PHOTO: S. Pítr, Facebook OV ČSBS Kladno)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the recent remarks made by Czech President Miloš Zeman during the celebrations of Israel's Independence Day at the end of May. Commenting on the recent attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Zeman said attacks by Islamist fanatics are an outcome of their ideology.  

According to a statement sent by the OIC to some Czech governmental authorities and the Office of the President, the international organization is now demanding an apology for those words. Zeman says he will not apologize for saying there is a connection between Islamic ideology and violence.

The president's spokesperson, Jiří Ovčáček, conveyed his response yesterday. "The President is certainly not going to apologize. He would consider apologizing for quoting from a holy Islamic text to be blasphemy," Ovčáček said.  

"Muslim fanatics recently abducted 200 young Christian girls in Nigeria. In a flowering Europe, at the heart of the European Union, an abominable assassination also recently played itself out at the Jewish Museum in Brussels," the Czech President said in his speech. 

"I will not allow myself to be calmed by declarations that these are just small fringe groups - on the contrary, I am of the opinion that this xenophobia, this anti-Semitism or racism, flows from the founding principles of the ideology these fanatical groups rely on," Zeman said. Now the Secretary-General of the OIC, Iyad bin Amin Madani, has expressed disappointment over Zeman's remarks.  

Madani said he believes the remarks correspond to President Zeman's previous declarations about Islam, in which he said Zeman compared "believers in the Koran to the anti-Semitic, racist Nazis" and stated that the "enemy is the anti-civilization that is home to two billion people and extends from northern Africa to Indonesia." Madani says these statements not only show the president is insufficiently knowledgeable about Islam and doesn't understand it, but also that he is ignoring the historical fact that anti-Semitism and racism are "European" phenomena.

"[Anti-Semitism and racism] do not have their roots in civilization, in history, in Islam, or in religion. The Holocaust did not take place in the region between northern Africa and Indonesia," Madani said.

The OIC say the Czech President's statements are "irresponsible and strengthen existing stereotypes, inciting discrimination, hatred, and violence against Muslims because of their faith." They also believe Zeman's remarks undermine global efforts to enhance dialogue between civilizations, cultures and religions and to support multiculturalism, peace and understanding. 

"It would be appropriate for President Miloš Zeman to apologize to the millions of Muslims worldwide for his deeply hateful and offensive statements against Islam," reads the declaration of the OIC, which is an international organization of 57 countries. The OIC, headquartered in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, endeavors to be the collective voice of the Islamic world and to protect the interests of Muslims.  

Zeman outraged Muslims last fall when he indicated the Czech Embassy to Israel might move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His statement was condemned by the Arab League and the OIC.


ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Czech Republic, Islám, Miloš Zeman, muslimové, prezident



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