Last year I posted about a young girl in Italy who pretended she had been assaulted by Roma because she was frightened of how her parents would react if they found out about her relationship with her boyfriend. A similar story has recently surfaced in the Czech republic. A 15 year old boy suffered serious injuries because he was fooling around on a stairway. Prompted by fear at how his mother would react, he blamed the Roma for his accident:
An assault on a 15-year-old that stoked racial tensions and brought thousands to the streets of Břeclav, south Moravia, in April never happened, with the boy now admitting he concocted a story alleging he had been severely beaten by a group of Roma men.
As Petr Zhyvachivski faced a lie-detector test, he admitted the story was invented out of fear he would face discipline from his mother after he fell one story while playing on a handrail in a stairway. Zhyvachivski’s resulting injuries placed him in intensive care and forced him to have a kidney removed.
Anna Šabatová, chairwoman of the Czech Helsinki Committee, an NGO protecting equal rights, said politicians and media failed to directly face the hateful response that kept the police busy for weeks as local Roma were systematically interrogated.
“Politicians participated by automatically sympathizing with the mother of the boy, and talked about Roma assaults,” she said. “Even if this [attack] had happened, you cannot automatically blame the whole community for the actions of an individual.”
Here is quite a telling comment from a Prague vox pop:
We used to be informed about these accidents only on a local basis; suddenly, nationwide media cover it. I guess it’s because there are many people angry about their situation who are doing much worse than they used to be, and these people seek speedy solutions and some politicians like to provide them. If we do not have a culprit, we have to find one.