Europe,  Far Right,  Roma

Racism in the Czech Republic

When I first skimmed this story on Lolo Diklo, I assumed that Jiří Šulc must be attached to a comparatively marginal party, something like Hungary’s Jobbik.  But Šulc is a member of the Czech Republic’s Civil Democratic Party (ODS), the second largest party in the country, and part of its governing coalition.

Civic Democrat (ODS) parliamentary deputy Jiří Šulc claimed not to have posted the photo on his private social media site, which showed a group of poorly dressed Roma (also known as Gypsies), including an obese shirtless man, with the mock headline, “Help for Haiti: We’ll send them 200,000 new Haitian citizens.”

That’s roughly the number of Haitians who died in the devastating earthquake in January 2010, and ČT24 reported that the photo had been on Šulc’s site for more than a year. “I don’t know anything about it. If there is something like that, I’ll have it removed,” he told the station; the photo disappeared from his Facebook page on Thursday

Back in 2008, when seeking reelection as governor of the Ústí Region in Northern Bohemia, Šulc was accused of playing the race card in his campaign ahead of the local elections by putting up billboards saying, “Work hard, Gadjos, so that we are better off,” the word Gadjo being the Romany expression for white people.

In an interview with the regional daily Ústecký Deník, Šulc said at the time he had wanted to express his “disagreement with the abuse of social welfare in the Ústí region by a group of people who have not wanted to work for a long time and who abuse our too-generous social system,” adding that he paid to make those banners from his own pocket.

There’s something almost comical about that description of Šulc’s absurd attempts to extricate himself from this appalling situation.  He’s not the only prominent politician who feels it is acceptable to share his racist views with the world.  Luděk Kvapil, the Mayor of Kmetiněves, is affiliated with another mainstream government party, TOP 09.

[Kvapil] posted the following message on his Facebook wall on the International Day of the Fight against HOMOPHOBIA: “…on the level! Homosexuals do not bother me as long as they don’t do anything offensive, but Gypsies certainly bother me completely!! even when they don’t do anything offensive to piss people off – which basically doesn’t exist!!! :-)))”

Recently Czech Roma have been commemorating Roma victims of the Nazis – 90% of Czech Roma were killed in concentration camps.

Update Here is a link to Karel Holomek’s resignation from the Commission for Roma Community Affairs in protest against perceived grave failings in the government’s handling of the issues.

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