Prague braces for neo-Nazis after Plzeň bans march
The mayor of Plzeň has banned a march by neo-Nazi skinheads planned for this Saturday. The ban was announced amid protests from the Jewish community and concerns it could end in violent clashes with anti-fascist demonstrators, as happened in Prague in November. It's now unclear whether far-right activists will attempt to ignore the ban and travel to Plzeň, with chatter on neo-Nazi websites suggesting they may gather in Prague instead.
“It wasn’t a sudden decision. We’ve been monitoring the situation on the Internet since Monday’s meeting with the police, and we believe Plzeň faces a similar threat that Prague dealt with in November. The difference is Plzeň is ten times smaller than Prague, so the potential threat to security in the city is much greater.”
Far-right organiser Václav Bureš – allegedly the middleman for hardcore neo-Nazi group Národní Odpor or National Resistance – says he called Saturday’s march as a protest against the crackdown in November. However Jewish and anti-fascist groups claim the far-right are employing a policy of deliberate anti-Semitic provocation. The abortive march through Prague’s Jewish quarter was to be held on November 10th, the 69th anniversary of the notorious Kristallnacht pogrom. The Plzeň march, meanwhile, was to take place on January 19th, a day after the 66th anniversary of the first transport of Plzeň Jews to concentration camps.
A spokesman for the West Bohemian police force said the far-right would most likely try and gather in Prague instead. The prime location is Palackého náměstí, a square in Prague 2 which ever since being designated a London-style Speaker’s Corner is no longer subject to regulations requiring prior notification for public gatherings. Large numbers of riot police will again be standing by to deal with any repeat of November’s clashes.