Roughly 70 neo-Nazis protested today in front of the Czech Interior Ministry against the detention of former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke and his deportation from the Czech Republic. The American was due to lecture in the country over the weekend, but police arrested and deported him. Outgoing Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb said today that Duke’s opinions are dangerous and praised the police procedure taken against him.
“We want to draw attention to the case of Mr David Duke, who was detained and charged for a crime which in our opinion he did not commit,” Filip Vávra explained when asked what today’s demonstration was about. Vávra is connected to the neo-Nazi movement Národní odpor (“National Resistance”), which invited the American to the Czech Republic. Vávra added that they were protesting against using the police to achieve political objectives. At the demonstration, Vávra collected money from neo-Nazis for legal aid for the former Ku Klux Klan boss. Adam Berčík of the Dělnická strana (“Workers’ Party”) also spoke. Our correspondents tell us that other members of the extremist Workers’ Party such as Martin Zbela, Patrik Vondrák, Petr Fryč and Lucie Šlégrová, also attended the march, .
Up to 70 right-wing radicals marched towards the center of town. They originally wanted to march through Letenský sady, across the river on Čechův most and then on to either the Old Town Square or Wenceslaus Square. However, in the end they had to choose a different route, as according to Prague police spokesperson Ján Mikulovský their original march would have brought them too close to the former Jewish town.
In the end, the neo-Nazis marched up Revoluční třída to Můstek, where they ended their demonstration shortly before 15:30. On the way they shouted slogans such as “Freedom of speech”, “The Czech Republic is a police state” and “David Duke is a political prisoner”. According to Mikulovský, the police had no reason to intervene against them. Police monitored the entire protest; special riot units were on guard in front of the ministry and officials from the Prague Town Hall observed the demonstration as well.
The gathering was not announced, which means whoever convened it committed a misdemeanor. According to Mikulovský, however, it is very difficult to determine who convened the gathering. “Now we are evaluating whether the speakers committed misdemeanors or felonies,” he said. Speaking before the demonstration he stated that the police intended to intervene only if the law on assembly or the law on the public promotion of opinions supporting movements aimed at suppressing human rights were violated.
Duke was detained and charged with this latter crime. According to the police and other experts, Duke denies the Holocaust in his recent book, “My Awakening”.
“This is a person who would contribute toward enhancing the Czech neo-Nazis’ ideological background,” Kocáb warned on the Czech Television program “Václav Moravec’s Questions”. In Kocáb’s view, the procedure taken against Duke was correct.
Duke’s book has been published in Czech translation by Kontingent Press. The publishing house has been involved in several other controversial enterprises before, and Deputy Police Director Jiří Houba would not rule out criminal prosecution of the publisher today. The police have been researching the text all month. “We must concern ourselves with the circumstances under which the book was published and that is relatively more difficult,” Houba said on “Václav Moravec’s Questions”.