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Czech Republic: Protest by anti-Islam groups and well-known populist politician in Teplice (Unofficial translation)

Around 200 people including populist politician Tomio Okamura as well as members of anti-Islam initiatives took part in a demonstration at a popular park in Teplice on 20 June to protest against the presence of visitors from Arab countries who vacation at the local spa resorts or have bought property in the area. Many of the protestors brought their dogs, charging that the park had been taken over by the foreigners, and accusing them of leaving areas in "disarray" or of behaving inappropriately, the Radio Prague informs.

Some opponents of the demonstration, such as Teplice councillor Dominik Feri, have called for a constructive dialogue on the issue and for locals to "not allow themselves be manipulated by extremists". According to the islamologist Bronislav OstÅ™anský from Prague's Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Science, such actions are “the best way to provoke a conflict.”

There is constant tension between xenophobic segment of local majority population and small Muslim community in Teplice which manifested earlier this year when Arab store was vandalised. However the anti-Muslim sentiment escalates every year in the summer with presence of spa guests predominantly from the Gulf countries. Local Muslim community decided to react to the accusations of the anti-Muslim protesters in a positive manner by organizing a “cleaning evening” in the park. Even the spa guests were involved in the cleaning activities.

An Arabic-speaking intercultural assistant is employed by the town´s administration to mediate communication and prevent conflicts between the majority population and spa guests and to inform them of municipal regulations and local rules.