Resistance growing to planned neo-Nazi march through Jewish Quarter|
After a great deal of legal toing and froing, a march by neo-Nazis through
Prague's historic Jewish Quarter now looks set to go ahead on November 10,
the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938. But there is some
resistance: the Prague Town Hall has renewed its efforts to block the
demonstration, the Jewish Community is organizing a counter-event, and the
Czech president no less has called for it to be stopped.
Some time ago a known neo-Nazi named Erik Sedlacek obtained a permit to hold
a demonstration in Prague's Josefov Jewish Quarter, ostensibly against the
war in Iraq. But when the Prague Town Hall realised who they were dealing
with, and that the date coincided with the 69th anniversary of
Kristallnacht, they banned the march. However, due to procedural flaws a
Prague Court twice upheld objections that such an injunction was unlawful.
Many have been alarmed at the idea of such a march, among them the Simon
Wiesenthal Centre, who on Tuesday urged the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus,
to prohibit it.
Mr Klaus subsequently condemned the demonstration strongly, saying it could
not be tolerated under the pretext of freedom of speech and assembly. The
president in turn called on the authorities to do all they could to block
the far-right event.
Now the Prague Town Hall has filed a complaint against the latest court
decision overturning the Town Hall's ban. However, this move is unlikely to
achieve anything, as the court to which it has appealed does not have the
power to prevent the march.
Meanwhile, Jewish community leaders have organised a prayer and memorial
gathering to honour the victims of Kristallnacht for the same time (Saturday
November 10 at 2 pm) and place (Maislova St) as the planned neo-Nazi march.
A Prague Town Hall spokesman said talks were going on with the city's
police. One approach could be for the police to immediately disperse the
march as soon as it begins, on public order grounds. But that solution would
not prevent potential international embarrassment for the Czech capital.
Many would prefer if things did not go that far.