Today: April 21, 2024
November 16, 2014

Giving Zeman the red card

On Nov. 17, Czech protesters will express their disdain for and disappointment in head of state

Update: For pictures from the event held Nov. 17, click here.

The date is heavy with meaning, and the organizers hope the message will be a powerful one: Nov. 17 is celebrated as the start of the Velvet Revolution that brought an irrevocable end to more than four decades of communism in Czechoslovakia. The protest that day in 1989 started in Prague’s Albertov district and ended on a packed Wenceslas Square. This year marks the 25th anniversary of those transformative events. The date this year also commemorates 75 years since another similar protest against the government: In 1939, mere months after Nazi Germany had occupied Bohemia and Moravia under the guise of making it a protectorate, a student protest occurred on the same day, Nov. 17, against the death of the 24-year-old Jan Opletal. Opletal had been killed while demonstrating against the Nazis a few days earlier.

“I Want to Talk to You, Mr. President”
Monday, Nov. 17, from 11 a.m.
Where: Národní Street

This coming Monday, Nov. 17, at least one major protest has been organized against Miloš Zeman, the incumbent president of the Czech Republic. On the Facebook page of the event, titled “I Want to Talk to You, Mr. President,” organizer Martin Přikryl asks that the crowd bring a red card of any size and above all not resort to the level of rhetoric that has been associated with the president in recent days, meaning vulgar expressions should be avoided.

There is no official word on whether the president will attend or steer clear of the rally.

The protest will kick off at 11 a.m. on Národní Street in the center of Prague, and on the Facebook page, Přikryl takes some care to explain why the red card was chosen as opposed to other suggestions of protest. He says there is no need for a yellow card, because the Czechs have gone beyond the point where it would suffice to warn the president that his behavior is detrimental to the country’s image. Přikryl adds that other suggestions like the crowd turning their backs toward the president or pouring Becherovka (the president’s favorite alcoholic drink) into the river would either be ineffective or detract from the seriousness of the protest. The proposal of ringing keys, a symbol of the 1989 protests, also relies too much on the past and does not look toward the future. Times have changed, Přikryl says and implies that the crowd has to address the current crisis head-on instead of looking 25 years into the past for guidance on how to take on the country’s leadership.

The full statement to President Zeman reads as follows:

“Mr. Miloš Zeman,

Even though you received the confidence of a majority of the electorate and promised to unite the land, do this with respect and exemplify the appropriate responsibility, you have betrayed your function and do not represent the citizens of this country at the level appropriate to the office.

Your errors have accumulated and are serious. You are doing a bad job.

You are not living up to your promise, your office is not representing what it should, you are not safeguarding our statehood, you are not taking care to nurture our moral values, and you do not protect our nation’s honor. Last but not least, you do not unite but rather divide the nation.

Therefore, we have decided to reject you and to do so publicly.

Please consider your actions and tender your resignation.

Participants in the demonstration

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