HateFree Culture project likely to be scrapped amidst questions over financing

Photo: Official Facebook page of the HateFree Culture project

The HateFree Culture project, launched by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion in 2014, may come to an abrupt end. The minister for human rights and minorities, Jan Chvojka, who was appointed to office two months ago, has announced his decision to terminate it as of April following negative reports regarding its financing and allegations that one of its key organizers may have a conflict of interest. I spoke to Magda Faltová, head of the Association for Integration and Migration, about the decision and whether she thinks the project is still meaningful.

Photo: Official Facebook page of the HateFree Culture project
“Definitely, I feel that the current government does not really say out loud that hate, xenophobia and racism is something that they do not agree with, and I kind of understand that, because we have elections this year, but this was one of the last things that they were actually doing against these phenomena in the society. So I strongly believe that it should continue.”

It was launched in 2014 – can you say what it has achieved over that time?

“There are different sections of the project. They communicate through social media, it is focused largely on the young generation and they work closely with schools. They are trying to bring up the topics that are not discussed that often, to show how the society can live together, combining different groups, different ideas, different opinions. They also work a lot on hoaxes, they provide information about misleading or false news that appear in the media and especially on Facebook and I think that is very, very important. One of the best things they were doing is that they were reaching out to haters online, doing interviews with them and asking why they feel the way they do, what their motivation is and so on. I think they did a lot of very innovative things in terms of communication and trying to bring people together.”

Magda Faltová, photo: ČT24
The minister claims the project has problematic aspects, he has mentioned financing, criticism in the media. Do you feel that this is a problem that cannot be removed and that necessitates the project being scrapped as a whole?

“You know, I do not have inside information about how it is run financially, but I know the people who are running the project and I believe in their integrity. The information that appeared in some media about problematic finances was not verified. I think that if the minister is concerned about these things he should first talk to people, investigate matters and see if it is true or not. And I hope that he will do that.”