Planned conference on Iraq causes controversy
A two-day conference that is to be held on the grounds of the Chamber of Deputies this weekend has been causing much controversy. Speakers from around Europe will be in Prague to discuss the future of Iraq but the conference organisers have refused to reveal the names of the participants. The speculation that followed has led to a political row, a complaint from the Iraqi embassy, and criminal charges against Czech TV. Dita Asiedu reports:
Speaking to TV Nova, Faisal Ismail, the head of the Czech-Iraqi Association, one of the conference organisers says Iraqis living in Europe who do not agree with the presence of all foreign troops in Iraq will be at the conference. Four Arabic television stations, Al Jazeera included, have also been asked to cover the conference.
The conference will be held under the auspices of the Social Democrat deputy lower house speaker Lubomir Zaoralek. But such controversial discussion should not be led on Parliamentary grounds, says Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The Iraqi Embassy in Prague has also expressed concern in a complaint sent to the foreign ministry.
This weekend, Czech TV suggested that some of the conference participants are members of the pro-Saddam Hussein underground Baath Party. It quoted former Iraqi dissident Maroof Taha as saying that the whole event is most likely financed by Saddam Hussein's daughter Raghdad who now lives in Jordan.
Czech Television now faces a criminal lawsuit. The conference organisers say their reporter had spread false alarm and intimidated the conference's participants. A complaint has also been sent to the Czech TV Council and Parliament's media commission.