Opinion shows that Czechs do not believe wall in Usti nad Labem is a racial issue|
Radio Prague, May 26th - In an opinion poll, the Czech people have said overwhelmingly that they do not believe that the
controversial plans to build a wall in Usti na Labem that will separate a Roma section of town from
the Czechs is a racial issue, or one that should involve the government. Nick Carey has more...
The planned wall in Usti nad Labem, now called the Matecni Street wall in the Czech press, has been
the focus of much heated debate over the past year. The planned wall will separate a predominantly Roma,
or gypsy, section of town, which consists of emergency housing, from the rest of the
population. The Czechs in Usti nad Labem say they want to build the wall to shut out the noise and
the piles of refuse left by the Romas. This has been condemned by Roma representatives,
human rights agencies, the European Union and others as racial segregation. Thus far the
charge has been denied by the Czech residents of Usti nad Labem.
A political battle has been waging over the wall in the country over the past few months, with
the Czech government's human rights commissioner Petr Uhl and various Roma agancies
attacking the proposal, and local council members supporting it, denying outright that this is an act
of racial intolerance.
The new opinion poll, carried out by the agency STEM, asked Czechs if they believe that the
Matecni Street is a racial issue. Almost seventy five percent of respondents said it is not.
Instead, they believe it is a social issue, as the wall has been built between rent paying residents,
When asked whether this is an issue that should be dealt with by the Czech government, the
answer was the same, with seventy three percent saying that this issue is purely a matter for
local government representatives to decide.
Another, very important question posed in the opinion poll, and one much discussed lately
because of Matecni Street and the growth of neo-Nazi organisations, was is the Czech Republic
racist? Two thirds of people asked said no, they do not believe this is a racist country, whilst
one fifth answered that it is.
I spoke to one of the directors at the Central and Eastern European Centre for Roma, and an
editor of a Roma bi-weekly newpaper, The Roma Voice, Roman Kristov, and asked him if he
sees the Matecni Street wall as a racial issue:
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And what about the Czech Republic as a whole? Do you believe that this is a racist country?
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