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Czech PEN club criticises Zeman’s comments on migration

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Prague, Nov 3 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman stirs up people´s fear of refugees and challenges public authorities such as the Ombudsman Office or U.N. bodies, representatives of the Czech centre of the International PEN Club have written in an open letter to Zeman.

“Under the pretext of the threat of radical Islamism, it is you, Mr president, who incite to the refusal of help to the miserable people who have lost everything and are trying to start anew,” the authors write in the letter.

They also criticise what they call Zeman´s resentment of scholars, academicians and the legacy of [widely respected Czech] journalist Ferdinand Peroutka (1895-1978).

They call on Zeman to stop challenging the institutions such as the U.N., Czech Ombudsman Anna Sabatova and representatives of universities only because their views differ from his.

“We would welcome it if you also cared about the good reputation of the Czech Republic abroad, where your dangerously simplified personal views have caused consternation and created a negative image of our country,” says the letter whose signatories include Czech PEN Club centre head Jiri Dedecek, deputy heads Ivan Klima and Marketa Hejkalova, and other representatives.

In October, Zeman accused Sabatova of seeking publicity by criticising the conditions in which foreigners live in the refugee detention facility in Bela-Jezova, central Bohemia.

Zeman also verbally clashed with the U.N. high commissioner for human rights who voiced concern at what he called public displays of xenophobia, including Islamophobic rhetoric, by the Czech head of state.

Zeman´s spokesman reacted by calling the commissioner´s words an escalating campaign the Czech Republic is facing over its position on the migrant crisis.

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