Monitoring group issues stark warning on growing neo-Nazi threat

Photo: CTK

The American centre in Prague hosted a roundtable discussion on Wednesday on the growing threat of extremism, at a time when far-right groups are holding regular rallies in Czech towns and several Romany families have been attacked by neo-Nazis. The discussion was attended by government ministers, Romani rights activists and also groups that monitor far-right extremism. Klára Kalibová is from the monitoring group Tolerance.

Photo: CTK
“There is a very thin line between violence and non-violence. The far right is now the most dangerous organisation or movement in the Czech Republic, and what we really need is police action against the top people in the far right and beside that we also need some educational activities in the whole society, concerning the schools, state authorities, local authorities and also the police itself.”

It seems you do have an ally in that – minister Pecina appears determined to crack down and destroy far-right groups.

“Yes, he can do the repression, but we also need a partner in the educational sphere, and it seems there isn’t any. So I’m very sceptical as to the civic aspect of this issue.”

Do you think the media play enough of a role, or should they be doing more?

“The media should be professional. They should inform in a professional way. They should inform people what the far right is about, not just what it looks like. The media coverage of the far right is limited to saying ‘they met there and there, and they said this and this’, but they don’t go inside the situation. They don’t examine the target groups. They don’t give a broad view of the situation. They’re not experts in it.”

The situation in the Czech Republic is surely better than elsewhere in Central Europe, as it has been for decades, even before the war this was a better place to be than Hungary or Poland.

“Yes, that’s true. We don’t have far-right political parties in parliament, or even far-right Czech MEPs in the European Parliament. But it can easily get worse, because the source of energy of the far right is in the whole of society, in the whole xenophobic Czech society. What I’m saying is that civic society is not strong enough to stop it. But it can easily change a lot.”