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December 8th, 1998
08-12-1998
Almost every week tv and newspaper reporters bring news of racist related incidents, from physical assaults to the desecration of cemeteries. However an incident which has now surfaced, shows how indifferent the majority of us are to various manifestations of racism and xenophobia. It was private TV PRIMA which first pointed out the fact that toy stores were selling toys stamped with the Nazi insignia -the swastika. The toy is selling in stores across the country and neither the salespeople concerned nor the hundreds of X-mas shoppers browsing through toy stores thought to protest against the fact. Both latent an overt racism clearly has roots in this society and President Havel met with Prime Minister Milos Zeman on Monday to discuss a more effective government policy in combatting it.

With skinhead organizations distributing over 60 racist periodicals throughout the country, and attacks against people of a different skin colour a frequent occurrence, Prime minister Zeman feels that nothing short of a frontal attack will do. He wants the skinhead movement outlawed.

"I consider it very important for this government to launch effective and concrete actions against the skinhead movement which represents the worst inside us" Zeman told newsmen.

However the Constitutional Court has indicated that from the legal point of view such a step would be difficult if not unfeasible. Although Zeman has asked interior minister Vaclav Grulich to explore the possibilities of crossing the skinhead movement off the ministry's list of registered movements, the fact is that the most radical skinhead groupings in this country are not affiliated to that movement.

So for the time being the prime minister is focusing on what can be done - the establishment of a special police unit and achieving a more effective implementation of existing legislation.

"The way I see it, our laws provide sufficient protection against racism, if the individuals at the respective institutions can't implement them properly then those people should be replaced" Zeman noted.

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