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This week: Roma in the Czech Republic; football World Cup; Fathers' Day; smoking ban in restaurants. Listeners quoted: Paul Danello, Janet Kostner, Onno van Eijk, Eve Houtzer, Malik Ameer Bakhsh, Jonathan Murphy.

Welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague's Sunday programme in which we read from your letters and answer your questions.

Last Sunday in our news we reported on a new poll carried out by the STEM agency, suggesting that three-quarters of Czechs do not think the Czech Republic should give more attention to the rights of the Roma minority. According to the poll over two-thirds of respondents said they had a "negative relationship" towards Romanies, while one third said they would be completely opposed to having a Romany neighbour.

Sometimes it happens that we receive completely opposing reactions to a story. And it was the case this time: Paul Danello from somewhere in cyberspace has written:

"The figure for Czechs outside the country would be 100%. The coverage of Romanies on your web site is also disproportionate."

And quite a different e-mail came from Janet Koster, from Toronto, Canada.

"I was listening to your program on Sunday morning that dealt with the discriminatory way in which Gypsies in Europe are treated. I must say that I found this bigotry to be both astounding and disturbing. For all the criticism I hear on European radio with respect to everything the United States does, may I suggest that you Europeans learn a little something from the Americans. The United States is, after all, the most multicultural country in the world, and perhaps also the only country in which anyone from anywhere in the world can fulfil their version of the 'American Dream'."

On a different note, last week our listener Onno van Eijk from the Netherlands sent us this e-mail.

"This Sunday is Fathers' day in Holland. Fathers can do even less in the house as they normally do, get breakfast in bed and presents (mostly by their children). Is this the same in Czech Republic?

As far as I know, Fathers' Day is not celebrated in the Czech Republic, at least not widely. Since the fall of communism Mothers' Day has been promoted as a holiday, mainly for commercial purposes it would seem, but it doesn't really seem to be catching on. And Onno continues:

"It is not often that I listen to Radio Prague, but I do use it as source of information. I only had a 15-evening course of Czech school and on night 14 I still thought Chinese would have been an easier language to learn. What I really like is your traditions, after two years my 'pomlazka' thanks to Radio Prague instructions looks like a real one made in the Czech Republic. Regards and good luck in the World Cup!"

And that brings us to football and the World Cup as the Czech Republic's performance has been an important part of your e-mails in recent weeks.

Pavel Nedved kneels on the pitch after a 2-0 loss to Italy, photo: CTK
As you will know the Czech Republic was beaten by Italy 2:0 on Thursday which meant the end for the Czechs at the World Cup. Thank you very much for the e-mails of support you sent ahead of the Czech Republic's matches.

After the previous match last Saturday against Ghana which the Czech Republic also lost, we received these messages. This one from Eve Houtzer from the United States:

"What a bummer at the World Cup. And everybody thought the Czech Republic was going to win. They needed Koller. Too bad, I hope they do better against Italy."

And Malik Ameer Bakhsh from Pakistan writes:

"I am very sad that my favourite football team, the Czech Republic, lost its match against Ghana. It was an important match but I hope your team wins the next match and reaches the next round."

Well, it didn't happen, so maybe next time. Anyway, thank you very much for those brief messages and also your other letters and reception reports that never cease coming.

Our regular listener in Ireland, Jonathan Murphy, sent us this along with his reception report:

"Good to hear in Letter from Prague that the smoking ban is making some progress. As you are probably aware we introduced a similar ban here in Ireland not so long ago banning smoking in pubs. It too took time to work and had its critics, but as a non smoker it has made a great difference to me."


Well, if you'd like to tell us what you think of our programmes on life in the Czech Republic, please get in touch with us. The address will follow after this competition question for the month of June.

"Two dozen countries of the world use dollars as their national currencies, with the United States dollar being the world's most widely circulated currency. But not all of those who use dollars may be aware that there is a connection between the dollar and the Czech Republic. What is the connection?"

Please send us you suggestions by Friday, June 30th to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague or english@radio.cz. We'll be looking forward to your answers.