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Features and Commentary

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Czech religious organizations call on public to resist radicalism

Prague, 10.1.2015 23:02, (ROMEA) The chair of the Czech Bishop's Conference, Dominik Duka, the chair of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Daniel Fakfr, and the chair of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, Petr Papoušek, jointly called on the public today not to succumb to radicalism as a result of the anger they might feel over the Islamist terrorists in France. "It is still necessary to insist on the basic principles of an open society. We must primarily insist on freedom of speech, on human rights, and on mutual respect between cultures and religions, as well as on seeking the road of common coexistence," the religious leaders say in a statement made available to the Czech News Agency.  full story

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Commentary: Czech anger and the Roma

Prague, 10.1.2015 21:34, (ROMEA) The most recent survey of Czech public opinion and trust in political institutions shows falling voter preferences for the ultra-right DSSS party, confirming the good feeling shared by many people, including this author, that our society is rebounding after hitting rock bottom. However, that is no reason to be rocked into complacency.  full story

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Czech Republic: Muslim representative touts conspiracy theories about the murders in Paris

Prague, 9.1.2015 18:07, (ROMEA) Mohammed Abbas, the director of the Muslim Union in the Czech Republic, has given media appearances in which he has doubted whether Islamists were responsible for several high-profile terrorist attacks. Speaking in an interview with Daniela Drtinová on the internet television station DVTV and then on yesterday's episode of Czech Television's "Hyde Park" program, Abbas said the 9/11 attack on New York could have been committed by the U.S. Government; that since no one had ever found the terrorists who committed murder on a London bus it could not be proven that they were Muslim; and that now in Paris it is far from certain that it was actually Muslims who committed these attacks and that a secret service game could well be behind it all.  full story

Miroslav Kováč

Miroslav Kováč: Let's be better parents in 2015

Prague, 8.1.2015 0:26, (ROMEA) The year 2014 was, from my perspective, a test for the "maturity" of Romani people in the Czech Republic, their ability to adapt to today's conditions and take advantage of the options offered by democracy to improve their position. A quarter of a century is enough time for us to start drawing on those experiences.  full story

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Czech publicity about family of Romani quintuplets crosses the line

Prague, 7.1.2015 21:53, (ROMEA) Klára Vítková-Rulíková has become a celebrity. She became one by supporting the first quintuplets ever born in the Czech Republic and their family.  full story

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Czech news server Protiproud claims that all Romani children are retarded

Prague, 7.1.2015 20:09, (ROMEA) The year 2015 has begun in the Czech Republic in one of the worst possible ways: With an hysterical, xenophobic campaign against Muslims and Romani people. Czech MP Tomio Okamura unleashed the hateful whirlwind of opinions with his "war on kebabs" and other quasi-fascist opinions have begun swarming like wasps.  full story

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Commentary: Does Okamura have a future?

Prague, 6.1.2015 21:27, (ROMEA) There would be no point in returning to the hateful and stupid remarks by Tomio Okamura about Muslims and no point in covering them at all if a basic question were not hanging in the air: Does this indicate the future of our public discourse and politics? Unfortunately, such a future cannot be ruled out.  full story

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2015 issues for Romea.cz: "Practical schools" and social housing

Prague, 2.1.2015 22:55, (ROMEA) The new year in the Czech Republic has begun with the ongoing design of the social housing law and a controversial amendment to welfare policy that will have hard-to-predict consequences. The amendment is intended to restrict "trafficking in poverty" by residential hotels, but it is not clear whether thought has been given to where those now living in such facilities might eventually end up as a result of the changes.  full story

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Commentary: Czech counter-intelligence report on anti-Romani marches is racist

Prague, 28.12.2014 0:25, (ROMEA) Evangelical parson Mikuláš Vymětal has written an open letter to the Security and Information Service (BIS) of the Czech Republic regarding its report on the anti-Romani events of 2013. "I am calling this a public letter and I believe that if you publish it, it will increase the hope that the BIS will respond proportionately. It's not much of a Christmas topic, but I view this as a way to take care of unfinished business before the year ends," he wrote to news server Romea.cz, which is publishing the letter in full translation below.  full story

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Commentary: Czech Police beat people and expel them instead of "helping and protecting"

Prague, 15.12.2014 22:00, (ROMEA) What the Czech Police did on Saturday after the demonstration to save the Klinika Autonomous Cultural and Social Center looked like a very absurd performance taken from a documentary film about police brutality against demonstrators before the events of 1989. Police unnecessarily beat people up and shouted vulgar curses at the peaceful demonstrators, many of whom were girls.  full story

Ayia Varvara, Athens, Greece. Lefteris Konstantinidis, 34, a Roma lawyer. (PHOTO: Nikolia Apostolou for The Open Society Foundations)

Breaking News No More: Life for Roma in Greece a Year after “Maria”

Greece, 27.10.2014 23:50, (ROMEA) For Lefteris Konstantinidis, a 34-year-old lawyer, a normal day in his new office is busy. The phone rings often; he runs around printing new case files and continues to take on new clients. His schedule is exhausting, but he still enjoys his work.  full story

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Commentary: Islamic fanaticism is repulsive - and so is European fanaticism

Prague, 15.10.2014 19:47, (ROMEA) We are horrified by the blind violence of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and most recently by the so-called Islamic State. We are right to be horrified, as their merciless recklessness combined with fanaticism and the conviction that they own the one and only truth is repulsive, and we are all dealing with this - discussing it, theorizing about it and writing about it.  full story

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Czech ombud: Discrimination against Roma underreported

Brno, 10.10.2014 19:08, (ROMEA) In a recent interview with Czech ombud Anna Šabatová, news server iDNES.cz touches on many current topics related to her work. In addition to discussing the much-publicized case of Muslim nursing students who left their studies because of a school's ban on head scarves, the ombud answered questions about her deputy, Stanislav Křeček, the adoption of children by registered same-sex couples, and extensive discrimination against Romani people in housing, on the labor market, and in other areas of life.  full story

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The Purge: Czech local and Senate elections in 2014

Prague, 9.10.2014 23:01, (ROMEA) Aggression, hatred and vulgarity: These are the main features of the campaign in the runup to this weekend's local and Senate elections in the Czech Republic. What's more, intolerance, racism and xenophobia are not just fads being followed by what are traditionally extremist, obscure, small movements and parties.  full story

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Commentary: Mayors and racism in the Czech Republic

Prague, 9.10.2014 0:28, (ROMEA) The "inadaptables" are once again scoring points in the runup to the local elections. Just as they did four and also eight years ago, many local politicians are competing to see who can promise a more aggressive intervention against the "inadaptables", subliminally understood to mean homeless people, migrants, Romani people and anyone else not favored by society (for various, often irrational reasons).  full story

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Czech trial of alleged neo-Nazi hard core postponed indefinitely

Prague, 7.10.2014 23:48, (ROMEA) Yesterday the third-instance trial of the allegedly hardcore members of a group called National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO) began in the Czech Republic. Its alleged members face up to eight years in prison for promoting Nazi propaganda as an organized group.  full story

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Commentary: Czech mayoral candidate would use EU money on the wrong problem

Prague, 7.10.2014 18:54, (ROMEA) Martin Štěpánek, a candidate for mayor in the upcoming local elections in Ostrava, has recently explained the vision behind his campaign slogan, "I reject trafficking in poverty", in an interview for the Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES (published Monday 22 September). At first glance it might seem that this striking slogan is aimed at the abuse of welfare by the owners of residential hotels for the socially vulnerable - the "traffickers in poverty".  full story

Violeta Naydenova (PHOTO: http://www.dnevnik.bg)

Violeta Naydenova: Jourová must be more active on Romani issues than her predecessor

Brussels, 2.10.2014 23:42, (ROMEA) Violeta Naydenova, a Bulgarian Romani analyst for the Open Society Foundations, has commented in the EU Observer that Věra Jourová, the Czech EU Commissioner-designate for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, should be much more active when it comes to addressing Romani issues in EU countries. Naydenova says Jourová should do more than her predecessor to combat anti-Romani attitudes and discrimination.  full story

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Czech Republic: Roma claim police apply double standard

Kadaň, 1.10.2014 20:01, (ROMEA) Fear of going out onto the street alone, terror after being threatened with having one's throat cut and run over by a car, a feeling of hopelessness that neither the police nor anyone else can guarantee justice and the right to a dignified life. Police indifference to Romani residents and sympathy for the local skinhead brawlers who terrorize Roma living in the Czech town of Kadaň - all of this is leading local Romani residents to feel that a double standard applies to law and order there.  full story

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Czech ombud says her deputy's article was totally out of line

Brno, 1.10.2014 18:15, (ROMEA) Anna Šabatová, the Czech Public Defender of Rights (the ombud) has sharply criticized her deputy, Stanislav Křeček, for authoring an article critiquing the work of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion. "[Mr Křeček's article] contravenes all of the principles of the work of the ombud, which are to maintain competence and confidentiality, to have a thorough knowledge of all the circumstances of a case, to listen to the other side, and what is most important, to propose measures for improving a situation should it be unsatisfactory," she has written in the daily Lidové noviny, which published Křeček's critique.  full story

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