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International media: Anti-immigration, hateful, xenophobic parties from around Europe want to exploit Czech SPD's success

17.12.2017 8:31
French nationalist right-wing politician Marine Le Pen (left), chair of the Czech Republic's
French nationalist right-wing politician Marine Le Pen (left), chair of the Czech Republic's "Freedom and Direct Democracy" movement, Tomio Okamura (center), and the chair of the Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders (right) at the "Europe of Nations and Freedom" conference in Prague, Czech Republic, 16 December 2017.

Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Associated Press (AP), Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) and the French daily Le Monde have all reported that the choice of Prague as the location for the conference yesterday of parties seated in the European Parliament that are anti-immigration, hateful and xenophobic was no accident. According to these media, the ultra-right parties want to draw new energy from the recent electoral success of their Czech host, the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement of Czech MP Tomio Okamura.


Several hundred people protested the meeting of representatives of Europe's ultra-right in Prague on 16 December 2017. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

DPA's news item on the conference, headlined "European right-wing populists demand the end of the EU in Prague", writes that the choice of Prague as the place for the conference was apparently not an arbitrary one. "In the Czech Republic, opponents of the EU obviously count on there being greater potential agreement with their radical opinions," says the report.

The German wire service recalled that Okamura, the Czech host of the conference, won 22 of 200 seats in the Czech Chamber of Deputies during the October elections and that just 33 % of Czechs perceive the membership of their country in the EU positively. The left-oriented French newspaper Le Monde reported that the choice of Prague as a venue meant the leaders of nationalist parties "are attempting to align themselves with a party in full growth", as Okamura's SPD is now the "rising star of the ultra-right in Europe".

Le Monde also recalled that Okamura, who is of Czech and Japanese origin, is already the Vice-Chair of the Czech lower house and presents himself as a friend of Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of Austria's FPÖ, which is, in addition to France's Front National (FN) (chaired by Marine Le Pen) a pillar of right-wing extremist collaboration in Europe. The AFP's news item was taken up by several international news servers, including the French edition of the Huffington Post, which described the success of Okamura's movement in detail.

"The conference is being held two months after the Czech ultra-right SPD party, run by Tokyo-born businessman Tomio Okamura, benefited from the support of 10 % of voters in the parliamentary elections thanks to his strongly anti-Islam and anti-EU rhetoric, and takes place in a context of rising ultra-right movements in Europe," the AFP reports. The French wire service also recalls that the SPD was supported by Marine Le Pen during its campaign and was pleased to enjoy the favor of Czech President Miloš Zeman, who is "famous for his pro-Russian, pro-Chinese and anti-Muslim rhetoric" and who attended the SPD congress last weekend.

The AFP also recalls that the Czech Republic strongly rejected the EU system of quotas for the redistribution of refugees, that the country has accepted just 12 migrants as part of the EU program, and that the Muslim minority is practically non-existent there. "Despite this, all of the various Czech parties are betting on exploiting the growth of terrorism and of potential social welfare costs so they can strengthen anti- Muslim and anti-immigration emphases in their election campaigns," the AFP concludes.

As for the AP, its reporting points out that anti-immigration parties are recording gains in the polls in Europe, although Le Pen and the Dutch leader of those opposed to Islam, Freedom Party chair Geert Wilders, failed in their bids this year for the highest political posts in their respective countries. DPA also profiled Okamura in its reporting.

The German wire service characterized the Czech MP as a self-declared enemy of Islam with a personal history of migration, which many consider a paradox. "Okamura and Czech President Miloš Zeman, who himself continues to move further to the right, have an excellent mutual understanding," its news item states.

DPA also recalled the "aid" given to the Czech President by his appearance at the SPD convention, where he is said to have agitated for his own re-election next month, and recalled Okamura's condemnations of the allegedly "brutal dictates from Brussels" (a tactic through which he is holding to the same line as Le Pen and Wilders) as well as the fact that he has been accused of racism. "For example, Okamura once publicly called for members of the Romani minority - which has been living in Bohemia for centuries - to go 'back' to India," DPA reports.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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