Monday, November 13, 2017

Czech Republic's tiny Muslim community subject to hate


Muslims comprise less than 0.5 percent of population, but face disproportionate about of hatred from fellow citizens.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: Al Jazeera
By Philip Heijmans | November 13, 2017

Prague, Czech Republic - Walking along the idyllic streets of Prague just blocks away from the famed Wenceslas Square, 38-year-old Palestinian-born Raed Shaikh stopped to point out a halal grocery store he and the handful of other Muslim residents in town frequent.

He then motioned towards a Middle Eastern restaurant to the right, hidden behind a small mosque.

"Here is the highest concentration of Muslims in Prague," the IT project manager said laughingly.

Though no exact figures exist, the Muslim community in the Czech Republic is small, between 5,000 and 20,000, or less than 0.02 percent of the total population.

Just a portion lives in Prague.

Yet Islam has become a hot-button topic in Czech national politics, where the power to resolve the country's hung parliament could lie with a politician whose only policy is, "No to Islam. No to terrorism".

Czech-Japanese entrepreneur Tomio Okamura and his Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD) rode into parliament as the third most powerful party after the recent October nationwide elections, with no discernible policy other than to drive Islam completely out of the Czech Republic.

The campaign slogan was convincing enough for the newly formed SPD to scoop significant votes in its first ever electoral race.

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