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Academics warning of growing xenophobia

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Prague, Aug 17 (CTK) – Over 740 Czech academics and other staff of scientific and research institutions have signed a petition Academics against Fear and Indifference to face the increasingly xenophobic atmosphere in Czech society that was posted online yesterday.
They feel alarmed at the activities of extremist groups that are not contained enough, the petition said.
Radicalisation of society by fear is one of the biggest dangers threatening Czechs in connection with the immigration crisis, it added.
The appeal does not want to play down the real risks arising from immigration or to campaign for specific steps relating to the refugees, the petition said.
However, it resolutely protests against the way ethnic and religious intolerance is being fomented and generally tolerated in the Czech Republic, it added.
The immigrants are labelled as vermin or parasites flooding the Czech Republic in order to drain its welfare system and to murder and rape at will, while Muslims are being tarred with the same brush as terrorists irrespective of their real views, the petition said.
“I believe absolute hysteria is gaining ground here, reacting to the alternative of a tremendous influx of refugees,” Helena Illnerova, a former president of Czech Academy of Sciences, told CTK.
“There has been no evidence of this. I think that we should first take into account the element of solidarity. When Czechs were emigrating en masse after the 1968 occupation by the Soviet Army, they were also accepted abroad,” Illnerova said.
The signatories include several university professors – theologist Tomas Halik, Oriental studies expert Lubos Kropacek, IT expert Jiri Zlatuska, historian Jaroslav Miller, literary historian Martin C. Putna and philosopher Jan Sokol.
The petition was also signed by the director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Vaclav Horejsi.
“I really resent what is going on here, the escalated hysteria against refugees and Muslims. I almost feel ashamed of the nation succumbing to this so much,” Horejsi said.
The academics have called on politicians to take into account real alternatives, not the erratic public opinion, when accepting the refugees, the petition said. The misfortune of other people should not be abused to obtain popularity among voters, it added.
They have asked the media to provide truthful information and not to spread false scoops and panic.
The petition has asked the public to be cautious in its judgement and of manipulation.
“We can see how much space is given to extremists who were on the margins of society until recently,” said one of the petition’s organisers, Lukas Novak from the Faculty of Science of Charles University.
He said it is a shame that a scientist, entomologist Martin Konvicka, heads the group We Don’t Want Islam in the Czech Republic.
Novak said Konvicka seems to be spreading fabricated information only to win popularity.
An opinion poll conducted by the CVVM institute in June showed that over 70 percent of Czechs do not want to accept refugees from the south in their country.
The Czech police have introduced stricter checks focusing on migration since June. From January to June, 3018 migrants were detained, which is a marked increase compared with the first six months of last year. The whole of Europe has been facing an influx of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.

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