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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2011-08-23 07:54:00
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Racial motivation possibly behind group attack

In Rumburk (Děčín district) a mass attack took place in the early morning hours of today that evidently involved 24 people. Police spokesperson Jaromíra Střelcová reported the incident to the Czech Press Agency, saying one victim has been hospitalized with fractures. Police say a group of 20 attacked a group of four, but the victims themselves say there were 18 assailants and six victims. Mayor Jaroslav Sykáček told the Czech Press Agency that according to witnesses, the larger group was comprised of Romani people who attacked members of the majority society. A collapsible nightstick was left at the scene of the crime. Four victims fled indoors to hide, but their assailants broke down the door to the building in pursuit of them. The incident took place at around 5 AM. Municipal police were the first to intervene on the scene and detained some of those involved before handing the case over to the state police. Municipal police employees do not want to give statements about the incident and are referring all calls to state police officers. "Interrogations of the victims and witnesses are still ongoing, so we cannot comment much on this case," Střelcová said at 5 PM. reportedly none of the assailants have been arrested yet.

"An information embargo is obviously in place regarding this case. However, the information I have from the Municipal Police and the owner of the building is that between 14 and 20 people of Romani nationality were said to have attacked four to six members of the majority society," Sykáček told the Czech Press Agency. When the mayor visited the scene, he reportedly found the doors to the building had been completely broken in and graffiti of vulgar drawings and words covered the entrance. Municipal police are said to have found a collapsible nightstick on the scene. "According to all indications this wasn't a case of a verbal conflict and shoving match. It looks like it could have been intentional and almost planned," he said.

News server tn.cz has broadcast testimony by one of the alleged victims. "We were smoking in front of the building and a band of gypsies came out of the discotheque. They started yelling at us, so we did our best to calm them, but they attacked us," the youth with a fresh wound on his face says. Victim Michal Němeček told Czech Television the following: "They started beating us with collapsible nightsticks, threatening us, calling us 'white swine'." Němeček says he did not provoke his assailants. "With six of us against 18 of them, we would have been going against our own interests," he said. Tensions have been rising recently in the Šluknov foothills between long-time residents and socially deprived people who are being moved into the region, allegedly by real estate companies. Střelcová refused to comment on whether the attack might have a racial subtext. "It's too early to say, the investigation is ongoing," she said.


First pride parade: A success amidst controversy

Prior to the event, valid concerns about violence erupting circulated, as was the case during similar events held in Brno and neighbouring Slovakia and Hungary. Despite the Czech Republic being the first former communist country in Europe to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples in 2006, the homophobic statements made by leading politicians in the run-up to the Prague Pride festival did little to combat the attitude that gays and lesbians were respected members of the Czech society. President Václav Klaus decided to support deputy chancellor Petr Hájek’s statements in which he labelled homosexuals as "deviant fellow citizens" — a move which brought the festival into the spotlight at home as well as abroad.

The march was part of a greater festival, called Prague Pride and Tolerance Festival, that took part between 10 and 14 August, and offered festival goers to attend about 80 cultural events, panel discussions and, of course, parties.  The organizers’ intention was to attract as large an audience as possible, hence, opting for Prague Pride, rather than Gay or Queer Prague, according to member of the festival’s organizing committee Bastiaan Huijgen. On Thursday, festival goers were, among many other events, invited to a frisky morning walking tour, a lecture about architecture, a theatre performance and a talk show with senior homosexuals who gave the visitors a glimpse into what it was like being a gay in Czechoslovakia in the 70's and 80's.

On Sunday, they were even invited to church. Unlike other religious groups who were handing out flyers or holding banners warning against sodomy on the sidelines of the march, Standa Kostiha and Tomáš Adámek from the Eucemenical Church in Kobylisy, Prague 8, came to Střelecký ostrov to invite everyone to Sunday's sermon. “As the only church in the country, we believe that homosexuality is natural and we have no problems conducting gay weddings. Everyone is welcome,” Kostiha said.


Numbers of primary school pupils to pick up in September

The long-term decline in the number of pupils of primary schools in the 10.5-million Czech Republic is to be over in September when baby-boomers from the past years are to start school attendance, according to the estimates of the Institute of Education Information (UIV) released to CTK. The UIV estimates that 6000 more children will attend first grades in September than last year and the number of primary school pupils is to further rise. On the other hand, secondary schools now suffer from the demographic decline. The regions are therefore considering merging some secondary schools.

The baby boom in the Czech Republic in the past few years was caused by mothers from the strong generation of the baby-boomers born in the 1970s. In 2005, over 916,000 kids attended primary schools, while last year it was only 789,000. However, the figure is expected to rise to 795,000 in September. The number of children at primary schools will be increasing as from the school year 2011/2012, statisticians say. The number of first-graders will rise by 5500 to 101,000 in September and this trend is to continue in the following years as well, according to the UIV.

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