NGOs, politicians, others reject president’s comments, say he discredits country
Lechotice, South Moravia/Prague, Oct 16 (ČTK) — Islamic refugees will not respect Czech laws and habits, they will apply sharia law, so unfaithful women will be stoned to death and thieves will have their hand cut off, President Miloš Zeman said in a debate with the employees of a local butcher’s today.
Zeman visited the firm during his three-day visit to the Zlín Region that ends today.
“We will be deprived of the women’s beauty since they will be shrouded in burkas from head to toe, including the face,” Zeman said.
“Well, I can imagine women for whom it would mean an improvement, but there are few of them and I cannot see any such here,” he noted.
In reaction to Zeman’s words, Czech politicians said Zeman is scaring people. He knows people’s moods and seeks popularity.
A consortium of NGOs working with migrants labeled Zeman’s words xenophobic and populist, and said he discredits the Czech Republic abroad.
Representatives of the Prague Muslim community said Zeman nourishes fear in society by “spreading fallacies.”
Zeman’s words are “a repugnant and irresponsible way of scare-mongering by someone who himself does not hesitate to breach the basic moral principles and sometimes even the rules of law,” Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Social Democrats, ČSSD) wrote to the Czech News Agency.
Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) chairman Pavel Bělobrádek wrote that one of the Czech senators is Syrian and promotes nothing of what was mentioned by Zeman.
Lenka Ahmad Belická, from the Prague Muslim Community, said Zeman is trying to score points among the Czech people who trust the myths about Islam.
“Muslims have lived in the Czech Republic for more than a century, and not even a hint of what the president speculates about has ever appeared here,” Ahmad Belická said.
The situation will remain unchanged even after the government-planned acceptance of 1,500 refugees from the war-stricken Syria, she said.
Ahmad Belická said she believed that the Czechs are able to recognize “pure populism.”
“If someone comments on Islam, they should know it a little at least, instead of irresponsibly nourishing people’s fear by spreading fallacies,” she said in an allusion to Zeman.
Opposition TOP 09 lawmaker František Laudát said Zeman uses “the policy of fear, which is often effective, to maintain and raise his popularity.”
Martin Kupka (opposition Civic Democrats, ODS), too, protested against Zeman “intimidating” people. Politicians should offer solutions instead of scaring people, he said.
Eva Dohnalová, from the consortium of NGOs, said Zeman is unfortunately not competent for a constructive and cultivated discussion on the refugee crisis.
“By his statements, which are xenophobic and hatefully populistic, but below the level of decency, discredits…the Czech Republic and its citizens on both local and international levels,” Dohnalová said.
On the other hand, Zeman’s words have been supported by Miroslav Lidinský, head of the marginal populist opposition Dawn movement, who said “Islam is aggressive and would not adapt to our habits or law. On the contrary, it spreads the sharia law, which is unacceptable for European culture,” Lidický said.
During his visit to the Zlín region, Zeman visited several towns and firms and met regional representatives and locals. He also went to Vrbětice where two ammunition dumps exploded in an ammunition storage complex last year.