Two cases of alleged anti-Semitism resonated in the media in recent days. The first is the anti-Jewish inscriptions in the window of the Sultan Kebab restaurant in Pilsen, for which the police accused a thirty-five-year-old foreigner of defaming a nation, race, ethnic group or other group of persons.
Sultan kebab in Pilsen, Kopecky sady.
So you know where not to go.
These deserve the collapse of their business and ideally deportation back home to Erdogan: pic.twitter.com/NhA70XLHOp
— Věra Tydlitatová (@VeraTydlitatova) October 25, 2023
The media reported on the second similar case in connection with the Prague pub U Hrocha, where the innkeeper refused to serve Jewish guests. However, according to the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Petr Papoušek, it was not anti-Semitism.
“We will deny it, it was not anti-Semitism. The behavior of ‘our’ person played a role there,” Papoušek told Nauzal on Monday.
In narrow circles, the case is being violently resolved, when the U Hrocha bar threw out three Jews, saying that it would not serve them and let them go to…
Posted by Ondra Soukup on Friday, October 27, 2023
Czech police have not investigated any other similar hate crime with a religious motive since the Hamas attack on Israel.
“In the first nine months of this year, we recorded a total of 11 hate attacks against Jews. In the same period last year, there were 18 cases. We know about several media-exposed cases that you mentioned, however, at the moment I have no information and no others,” said Ondřej Moravčík, spokesman for the police presidium, for Nauzal.
Anti-Jewish signs in refreshments thus remain the only significant act bearing the signs of religious intolerance, which the police deal with.
The Federation of Jewish Communities has been monitoring hateful outbursts against Jews for a long time and writes yearbooks about them. “It’s jumped 400 percent online since October 7th. But I did not notice any physical attacks or similar manifestations as in Pilsen,” says Papoušek.
It is not in the Koran, the expert explains
“These Jews are the people who killed even the prophets like sheep. For this reason, God cursed them. These Jews are the ones who call the pure Virgin Mary, praised by God, unchaste. These Jews are the ones who want to kill the prophet Jesus,” read three colorful sheets of paper pasted at the entrance to the Sultan Kebab restaurant in Pilsen. Later, the author moved them inside. On Wednesday, based on the notification, the police began to deal with the signs, and on Friday they charged the man.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, I wrote the truth, it’s in the Koran,” the salesman told ČTK.
Several experts on Islam and Arabic studies, contacted by the Nauzal editors, nevertheless agreed that the statements pasted in the window of the snack bar are not quotations from the Koran.
“This is certainly nowhere in the Koran. It is a simplistic and distorted view of the Qur’an’s criticism of the Jews. There are undoubtedly a number of passages in the Koran that are critical of Judaism, but on the other hand, in Islam, Judaism and Christianity have always been recognized as believing in the true God, however erroneous. Unlike, for example, Buddhism or Hinduism,” explains translator, Arabist and Islamologist Luboš Kropáček.
Strictly speaking, the Qur’an as a religious text exists only in Arabic. Even in his Czech translation, however, we cannot find the sentences that appeared in the shop window. According to Kropáček, the statements that the salesman stuck in the window do not represent the opinion of the majority of Muslims.
“The interpretation of the Koran has many forms, and whoever is looking for hateful verses encouraging hateful behavior will find them there. But those who do not look for them there are able to interpret some negative statements in a wider context in such a way that they sound differently. These three hateful statements do not represent the opinion of the majority of Muslims or important representatives of true Islam, such as the Sheikh of Al-Azhar (representative of Sunni Islam, editor’s note), who has met the Pope several times,” says the Islamologist.
“We have anti-Semitism here. But he is not religious”
Religiously motivated crimes are very rare in the Czech Republic, including Islam.
“The first case in which religious arguments entered was the publication of the book Basics of Tauhid, for which Vladimír Sáňka was indicted. But all the courts have always acquitted him, from the circuit court to the Supreme Court. Only the public prosecutor kept appealing,” says extremism expert Miroslav Mareš.
For several years, the authorities prosecuted the chairman of the Czech Muslim community for publishing a book by the radical Islamic preacher Bilal Philips. In 2014, the Unit for the Detection of Organized Crime launched a prosecution by raiding the houses of the Center of Muslim Communities, the Muslim Community of Prague and the Islamic Foundation near Wenceslas Square and Černý Most. After several years, Sáňka awarded compensation for illegal criminal prosecution.
“Another case that comes to mind was the sermon of convert Lukáš Větrovec in the Brno mosque in 2009, where statements against Jews were made. But the police put it off, because by the time the recording of the sermon became public, the statute of limitations was already on the act. Other anti-Semitic acts that came to court were not religiously motivated,” says Mareš.
Hate crimes are monitored by the non-profit organization In Iustitia. Since 2009, the company has registered 179 attacks against Muslims, 157 against Jews and 10 against Christians. But the reason is not the religious belief of the perpetrators.
“Both Muslim communities in the Czech Republic are peaceful. Perpetrators of anti-Semitic crimes are usually ethnic Czechs, and their religion does not play a role,” says Klára Kalibová from In Iustitia.
While some Western European countries are objectively dealing with radicalized Muslims, this is not happening in the Czech Republic, says Kalibová. It is therefore not possible to compare the situation in the country with Sweden or the Netherlands, let alone with France.