Extreme right groups parody Czech charity website in anti-immigration drive
A newly created internet page www.chceteje.cz, has attracted the attention of Czech police for its xenophobic and potentially illegal content. The website, which roughly translates as "Do you want them?", and refers to immigrants in the Czech Republic, attacks people from foreign backgrounds through coarse stereotyping and racial slurs. Its creators have clearly set it up as a counter-attack against, and a parody of, a website run by the Czech NGO People in Need as part of their ongoing campaign to highlight and explain the problem of neo-Nazism. Jamie Brindley has the story.
People in Need launched a campaign against neo-Nazism in the Czech Republic last month, going by the name of "NeoNacek chcete ho?" or "Who wants a neo-Nazi?" So they were clearly taken aback this week when a new website parodying theirs and with completely the opposite message, one of xenophobic intolerance, was set up. The website clearly shows that right wing elements have not taken kindly to the campaign which criticised their activities and made fun of their Nazi tendencies.
While police begin to investigate whether the site's content breaches Czech law, People in Need are waiting to see whether they too should take their own legal action, especially given the degree to which the website copies theirs, including layout, logos and slogans. The original charity campaign went by the name of Who wants a neo-Nazi? and the new right wing response has been called Who wants immigrants next-door? I spoke to Eva Latalova about how People in Need may respond to this new site:
"At the moment the webpage is being analysed by our lawyers, and we are considering the possibility of some legal action. However, we want to have a lawyer's statement in advance before pursuing this option. What is important for us is that it is not only our logo that has been changed and parodied, but also the logos of our partners, who we want to protect. So we are considering maybe taking some joint legal action with them."
Of course, it is not just the fact that the website has possibly broken laws regarding copyright of material on the internet. The deeper problem is the content of the new website itself. It asks the reader "Do you want immigrants next door?", while presenting photos of stereotyped foreigners and small descriptions about their inevitably bad characteristics. This new and unwelcome attention is focussed at, amongst others, immigrants from Russia and Vietnam. There are over 45,000 Vietnamese living in the Czech Republic, while the country has smaller numbers of immigrants of other nationalities.
While many will see through this blatant stereotyping and xenophobia, it reveals a serious problem in the Czech Republic, and is part of an ongoing debate that refuses to die away. Eva Latalova, explains that while debate and reasonable discussion is required, the NGO does not want to get caught up in a war of words with these right wing elements, which will only bring them more publicity:
"We have been dealing with the topic of immigration for a very long time and we are open to any discussion about the positive and negative sides of immigration. But we don't want to discuss, support, or even start to open a debate with the sort of arguments they are using, which are simply insulting. They are simply popularising and getting more attention for the ultra-conservative groups."
Foreigners in the Czech Republic are not, however, faced with such hostility everywhere. Efforts are being made to help them integrate more easily and smoothly into Czech society. In fact, the organisation Slovo 21 has been running a scheme called "The family from next door" since 2004. The program involves Czech families and foreign families visiting each other's houses for lunch. This gives them the chance to try a different cuisine, observe how family life in other cultures works and share and discuss ideas, opinions and problems. It is hoped that schemes such as this will continue to aid integration for foreigners, especially as the number of immigrants is set to rise in the Czech Republic in the future.