The Turkish ambassador to the Czech Republic and representatives of other Muslim countries walked out of a seminar being staged on Islam in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. The protest reaction followed comments in which lawyer Klara Samková compared Islam to totalitarian regimes and said it should be fought. The organizer of the seminar, ANO lawmaker Zděnek Soukup said that he did not expect there to be much diplomatic fall-out from the comments. Samková is a former member of the anti-Islamic Bloc against Islam. Another participant in the seminar was the chairman of the Muslim community in the Czech Republic, Muneeb Hassan Alrawi.
The Director General of the Czech Customs Administration Petr Kašpar has resigned after two years in the post. The move has been put down to health reasons but comes only a week after the special police unit for combatting organized crime swooped and one customs officer was charged for taking bribes and revealing details of sensitive criminal cases. Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš accepted the resignation Wednesday. The news server Idnes suggested that Kašpar’s resignation was connected with the slow roll-out of moves connected with electronic cash registers.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaoralek has said that officials will this year be able to process around 5,000 Ukrainians seeking jobs in the Czech Republic. The minister said staff at the consulate in Lvov would be boosted in the next weeks and officials would also be added in Prague so that visa applications and other procedures could be dealt with. Around 5,000 applications from workers, around four times the total for last year, could be handled in 2016, he added. Employers have criticized the slow pace at which Ukrainians are being brought into the Czech Republic to fill jobs since a new programme was introduced in November last year. The Ministry of Industry and Trade last week said 69 Ukrainians were involved in the new project and 40 had or were in the process of getting work permits as a result.
New World Resources (NWR) said Wednesday that it is not in a position to announce first quarter results. The results were due to be announced on May 18. NWR, the biggest shareholder in the Czech hard coal mining company, OKD, said results could not be made public as planned due to the filing for insolvency made last week for the mining company. Trading of NWR shares have been suspended on London, Prague, and Warsaw exchanges. An insolvency manager for the mining company, which employs around 10,000 in the Moravia-Silesia region, has already been appointed.
In football, Slovak attacker Marek Bakoš has announced his return to league champions Viktoria Plzeň. The 33-year-old quit the club for Liberec in January last year following injury and his failure to win a regular place in the first team. His contract with Liberec has now expired and he returns on a two year contract to the club where he already gained league titles and appearances in the Champions League.
Turnover and profit for the Czech Republic’s biggest Internet search engine company Seznam rose by around 10 percent last year. Turnover climbed by 9.0 percent to 3.41 billion crowns and profit before tax by 10 percent to 1.25 billion compared with 2014. Both figures are new records. Income related to Seznam’s search related ads was up more than 20 percent year-on-year. Those ads represent around 40 percent of the company’s overall ad income.
The chairman of the Czech Football Association, Miroslav Pelta, has promised an overhaul of the committee overseeing referees and of the list of referees itself following a scandal about drunken officials. Two officials were revealed to have been drunk during a key first division match this month with one having to be dragged from the pitch after having made a spectacle of himself. Pelta said the finishing touches to the changes were being made with the aim of restoring trust and confidence in the officials.
The high court has quashed more than 50 year old court sentences punishing two Czechs for allegedly support fascist and similar movements. The judgements were handed down in the 1950’s against Wolfgang Stenzel and his mother Elfrid Seidlová. The main basis of their convictions were letters written to relatives in West Germany. Seidlová was sentenced to six years and her son to five. They also lost their citizens’ rights. An amnesty meant that they did not have to serve the full sentences. Although the sentences were quashed, the cases against the two have not been annulled. A region court in Hradec Králové will have to deal with that. Seidlová is now dead and her son now lives in Germany.
Prague City Hall has announced that Charles University will be granted the right to organize a gathering at Prague’s Albertov on November 17th of this year. A large number of entities filed for the right to gather on this historic site which is linked not only to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 but also to a Nazi crack down on Czech university students on October 28, 1939. Last year an anti-Islamic demonstration at the site aroused protests and students were barred entry allegedly for security reasons linked to an appearance by President Miloš Zeman.
Prague is hosting a three day Interpol conference on security, terrorism, border protection, and cybercrime. Over 200 delegates and observers from 50 countries are taking part. Czechoslovakia was one of the founding members of Interpol, but it left the organization in 1952, a few years after the communist take-over. Its membership was renewed in 1990.