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When the Disinformed Get Violent

A Czech senior citizen, allegedly a fanatical supporter of an ultra-right party known for spreading disinformation, has been charged with causing train crashes in order to blame them on Islamic terrorists. From Romea.cz.

by Zdenek Rysavy 28 March 2018

The Czech police have accused a 70-year-old pensioner from the town of Bakov nad Jizerou with committing terrorist attacks against trains. He attempted to make the incidents seem like the work of Islamic radicals, but he himself is said to have been a fanatical supporter of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party of Czech parliamentary deputy Tomio Okamura.

 

Before more recently aiming his hatred against Muslim refugees the pensioner had verbally attacked Romani people. News site Aktualne.cz reported the news on 2 March after tracking down the identity of the man charged with the terrorist attacks.

 

According to that news server, pensioner J. B. (Czech media are not allowed to reveal his full name), who now faces life in prison, is described by locals as having been a neighbor who never caused trouble but who, in recent months, appeared to be a SPD devotee, a movement that has based its election campaigns on anti-Islam slogans. Prior to the autumn elections to the lower house, J. B. drew attention to himself through his striking support for the SPD and for Okamura himself, whose image he displayed on his car and home.

 

Image via Creative Commons

 

"It was like getting punched in the eye whenever that green car with Okamura on the doors drove past. He was really on fire for him," Radim Simane, the mayor of Bakov nad Jizerou, told Aktualne.cz.  

 

"He was the only person around here who made it clear whom he would support in the elections," the mayor said. Before J.B. started getting worked up about Muslim migrants, he had publicly attacked Romani people.

 

"When I was a local assembly member, he got onto the local radio station and began to announce that 'gypsies are vermin.' I had to explain to the mayor what happened," a former assembly member who did not wish to be named told Aktualne.cz.

 

J. B., according to the former assembly member and other residents of Bakov nad Jizerou, also accused unidentified Romani people of having robbed him more than once and of having poisoned his dog, but locals believe all of those accusations were fabricated stories. The arrest of the pensioner was reported by news site Lidovky.cz as having been on charges of causing two train crashes by cutting down trees so they would fall across the tracks.

 

The first accident happened on 1 June 2017 on the line between Bakov nad Jizerou and Mlada Boleslav, and passions about it were first sparked when Martin Konvicka, an anti-Islamic activist, reported on Facebook that messages in Arabic had been found at the scene. The Czech police later confirmed that rumor.

 

A piece of paper with an incorrectly spelled inscription of "Allah is great" were found at the scene of the accident. The "Citizens' Rights Party," which is associated with Czech President Milos Zeman, then attempted to exploit the incident for political gain.

 

The second train crash happened on 28 July on the line between Bela pod Bezdezem and Bezdez. Fortunately no one was physically injured during either incident.

Zdenek Rysavy is the director of Romea.cz. The original version of this article, translated from the Czech by Gwendolyn Albert, was published on Romea.cz, which publishes information about events in the Romani world and is currently the most-visited Romani news site in the Czech Republic. TOL has done some editing to fit our style. Reprinted with permission.

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