Are Czechs racist?

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The growing problem of racism in the Czech Republic has many minority groups worried. A recent spate of racially motivated attacks against the Roma population, including the murder of a Roma man last Saturday, have prompted many to speak out against the way in which the Czech government is dealing with the problem. Helen Belmont has more.

In light of a recent skinhead attack that left a Roma man dead, a number of groups in the country have issued harsh condemnations of racism. Amnesty International, several Jewish organizations, and the Czech government's human rights commissioner, Jan Jarab, are just some who have voiced their concern about the problem. Racism in the Czech Republic has again been making international headlines lately, as racially motivated attacks against the minority Roma community increase, and as British officials set up customs controls at Prague's international airport to stop Roma asylum seekers from entering Britain. London says the Roma are mostly economic migrants who are abusing Britain's asylum system.

The Czech government's human rights commissioner, Jan Jarab, spoke out about racism in his country, stressing the need for the government to take a tougher, more pro-active approach. Mr. Jarab believes that the government should do more to stop racially motivated violence, and send out the message that these attacks will not be tolerated. While racially motivated crimes are not a new phenomenon in the Czech Republic, past offenders have often been given light sentences as punishment.

Amnesty International has also criticized the growing racially motivated violence in the Czech Republic. It claims that not enough is being done by the Czech government and police to protect the Roma minority. Amnesty International reported that in some instances, the police have covered up racially motivated attacks and failed to properly bring the perpetrators to justice. It remains to be seen what, if anything, the Czech government will do to tackle racism and racially motivated attacks.