“Symbol of help for refugees” attacked in Prague

El centro Clínica, foto: ČTK

On Saturday evening, hours after anti-Islamic demonstrations in Prague, around 20 masked men attacked a social centre in the city that organises collections for refugees. The assailants threw petrol bombs and stones in an incident that has been condemned by politicians.

Anti-Muslim demonstration in Prague, photo: CTK
Anti-Muslim demonstrations were held in Prague on Saturday afternoon in a series of protests across Europe.

Clashes occurred in some parts of the city, with masked men appearing to be neo-Nazis throwing missiles at refugees’ rights activists.

At about 7:30 in the evening, an estimated 20 masked men attacked Klinika, a former squat in the Prague 3 area that among other activities collects clothing and other materials for refugees.

The police said they threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the “autonomous centre”, injuring one person slightly.

A member of the group that runs Klinika who was inside at the time, Tadeáš Polák, described the damage shortly afterwards.

“It has several broken windows. The main window of the café in the front of our building is completely smashed. At the time of the attack there were around 20 people inside and if they had been hit it could have been a lot more serious.”

Klinika, photo: CTK
Matěj Michalk Žaloudek is the head of the Green Party in Prague 3, which supports Klinika. He believes it was attacked by neo-Nazis and says the reason is clear.

“Klinika is a symbol for helping refugees in Prague at this time. It’s the best-known building where people live who are helping refugees. So for them it’s a symbol and I have no doubt that was the main issue behind why they attacked this centre.”

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka was among a number of politicians who condemned Saturday’s arson attack. President Miloš Zeman has as yet made no comment on the matter.

Several hundred people assembled in a small park beside Klinika on Sunday afternoon to express their support for the social centre.

Also referring to the stabbing of a Muslim man a week earlier, an organiser described such incidents as a “concretisation” of the hatred in Czech society.

Matěj Michalk Žaloudek, photo: archive of Green Party
The Greens’ Matěj Michalk Žaloudek, who was also there, says a more sober discussion of the migrant crisis could be one way forward.

“We have to speak about how many people we can manage, where they can live, who will pay for it, how long will it be for, how can we integrate them and so on. I think these issues still have to be discussed.

“And when something like the day before yesterday happens, when something like last week happens, the politicians have to say really loudly this can’t be, this is too much, that’s not a discussion, and it’s a really bad thing for democracy.”