Czech government unveils strategy to combat rise in far-right extremism|
In one of its final acts before leaving office, the Czech government has
just approved a new strategy to deal with a rise in far-right extremism.
The release of the plan follows a period in which neo-Nazis, said to be
increasingly organised, have attacked members of the Roma minority and
clashed with the police. But what actual measures will be taken to deal
with the far-right?
A recent petrol bomb attack on a Romany family’s home in Vítkov, north
Moravia left a 22-month-old girl fighting for her life, and many in the
Czech Republic shocked. However, presenting a new strategy to combat
far-right extremism, Interior Minister Ivan Langer said the government had
been worried about the problem for some time, and that his ministry had
begun preparing the document in November.
“The year 2008 was a turning point on the extremist scene in the Czech
Republic. There was greater radicalisation – and, in quotation marks,
professionalisation – in the activities of far-right extremists. More
than previously they are attempting to enter politics and to become a
political player, with political influence and with political power.”
So how is the government planning to respond to this threat? There is a
large emphasis in the new strategy on education and information. Municipal
authorities will be given manuals on how to deal with innocent looking
applications to hold public meetings that could actually be from the far
right. For instance, dates such as Hitler’s birthday will be highlighted
to alert officials’ attention if some group wants to gather on that day.
“If that happens on such anniversaries, and the applications come from
this or that political party or group, then if local authorities are
sufficiently educated and have sufficient information on the subject they
shouldn’t be afraid to say no to such gatherings.”
If trouble does occur, “flying courts” could officiate, said Minister
“By the turn of the year we will be able to have a court on the spot, in
the back of a lorry, which could take perpetrators in at the front door and
send them off to jail by the back door. But that’s just one part, just
the end of the whole process. For me the key thing is that an informed and
educated person is clearly better able to resist simple solutions, be they
an ordinary citizen, mayor, teacher, police officer, or judge.”
Monday’s presentation of the new anti-extremism strategy was one of Ivan
Langer’s final acts as interior minister. The task of actually
implementing it will fall to future Czech governments.