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Czech ‘Bloc Against Islam’ Leader Charged With Hate Speech

Far-right group leader’s lawyer says he is accused of inciting hatred against Muslims via Facebook posts.

25 November 2015

A Czech state prosecutor has filed a criminal complaint against the leader of the Czech far-right group Bloc Against Islam for inciting hatred against Muslims, his lawyer has told journalists.

 

Among other things, Martin Konvicka wrote on his Facebook profile that Muslims should be put into concentration camps or that they should be made into meat and bone meal, state news agency CTK reports, citing statements by his lawyer, Klara Samkova.


 

Samkova said the criminal complaint was filed by an “activist” state attorney from northern Bohemia on 18 November and concerns statements from 2011 to 2014, while a spokesman for Konvicka’s group called it a direct attack on freedom of speech, CTK says.

 

Amidst heavy security, Bloc Against Islam held a rally on 17 November – a state holiday, marking the anniversary of a student march that kicked off the Velvet Revolution in 1989 – supported by President Milos Zeman, who is known for his anti-Islam rhetoric.

 

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in an interview with the business daily Hospodarske noviny published the following day that Zeman had aligned himself with populists tapping into fear of Islamic State and the migrant crisis.

 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement last month expressed “alarm” that the Czech Republic’s detention policy for migrants had been “accompanied by an increasingly xenophobic public discourse, including repeated Islamophobic statements by President Milos Zeman, and a public petition ‘Against Immigration’ launched by former President Vaclav Klaus.”

 

Zeman had sunk to a new low by appearing at the rally for Bloc Against Islam, “an anti-Islamist group which is openly propagating hate against Islam and against refugees,” political scientist Jiri Pehe told Radio Prague. “[He] has allied himself with basically extremists, and that makes him an extremist as well.”

 

 

  • Bloc Against Islam was established in June. The Czech Interior Ministry considers it to be an extremist group, according to CTK. Earlier this year, Konvicka started the “We Don’t Want Islam in the Czech Republic” initiative, which launched a petition campaign against refugee quotas.

 

  • The migrant crisis and Paris attacks attracted thousands to different rallies in Prague in support of and against refugees on the 17 November holiday, even though the Czech Republic has seen few asylum seekers, Radio Free Europe reported.

 

  • Konvicka, a senior entomology lecturer at South Bohemian University, faces up to three years in prison for incitement to hatred against a group of people or suppression of its rights and freedoms, his lawyer said.
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