On the heels of Czech President Milos Zeman's warnings of a possible "super-Holocaust" carried out by Muslim terrorists, urging citizens to arm themselves, WaPo reports the country's interior ministry is pushing a constitutional change that would let citizens use guns against terrorists if police are delayed or unable to make their way to the scene of an attack.
Czech president Milos Zeman had previously proposed that economic migrants should be deported from Europe to “uninhabited Greek islands” or to “empty places” in North Africa. The spectacularly incredible president also proposed that the Greek debt should be progressively reduced in return for shouldering the cost of hosting hundreds of thousands economic migrants.
“We are in Greece, and Greece has plenty of uninhabited islands, and big foreign debt. So if you have ‘hotspots’ in Greek islands, this would be a sort of payment of foreign debt,” Zeman told Financial Times in an interview on the islands of Rhodes where he participated in the Rhodes Forum.
As The Guardian previously noted, the Czech president has unleashed a rhetorical fusillade against Muslim incomers of such intensity that it makes the anti-Islamic sentiments of Robert Fico, the Slovakian prime minister, and even Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, seem mild in comparison.
Zeman has warned that the Czech Republic – home to fewer than 4,000 Muslims out of a population of 10.5 million, according to official figures – could be targeted in a jihadi attack and urged Czechs to arm themselves against what he referred to as a possible "super-Holocaust." The concern is believed to have prompted the unprecedented introduction of metal detectors to screen the crowds of foreign tourists that visit Prague castle each day.
The alarmist message is particularly striking because unlike most anti-immigrant politicians in western Europe, Zeman, 71, is a social democrat (and former communist) rather than a rightwinger, and the Czech Republic has been largely spared the waves of refugees that have swept into neighbouring Austria and Hungary en route to Germany.
But now, as The Washington Post reports, the rhetoric is getting even louder as the country's interior ministry is pushing a constitutional change that would let citizens use guns against terrorists.
Proponents say this could save lives if an attack occurs and police are delayed or unable to make their way to the scene. To become law, Parliament must approve the proposal; they'll vote in the coming months.
The Czech Republic already has some of the most lenient gun policies in Europe. It's home to about 800,000 registered firearms and 300,000 people with gun licenses. Obtaining a weapon is relatively easy: Residents must be 21, pass a gun knowledge check and have no criminal record. By law, Czechs can use their weapons to protect their property or when in danger, although they need to prove they faced a real threat.
This puts the country at odds with much of Europe, which has long supported much more stringent gun-control measures. In the wake of the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, France pushed the European Union to enact even tougher policies. The European Commission's initial proposal called for a complete ban on the sale of weapons like Kalashnikovs or AR-15s that are intended primarily for military use. Ammunition magazines would be limited to 20 rounds or less.
The Czech Republic came out hard against the directive. Officials warned — somewhat ominously — that the measure would limit the country's ability to build "an internal security system" and make it nearly impossible to train army reservists. And a total ban on military-style rifles that can fire large numbers of rounds would make illegal thousands of weapons already owned by Czech citizens, potentially creating a black market for terrorists to exploit.
Of course, the populist rhetoric may be the driving force behind this bill, as for now the Czech republic is the only country to oppose the EU's directive for being too strict.
This is not the first 'extreme' move by Czech politicians with regard refugees/muslims/terrorists, as we noted previously, police in the Czech Republic are investigating comments made on Facebook by an extremist politician calling for refugees to be placed in Terezin, the former Nazi concentration camp.
Adam Bartos, the leader of the fringe yet vocal far-right nationalist National Democracy Party, published the comments about the site, located in the central European country, on Monday.
Reacting to the establishment of a refugee camp near the country’s border with Slovakia, Bartos wrote, “Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains.”
A police spokeswoman told the Czech News Agency on Monday that the police will probe whether or not the comments constitute a criminal act. According to Czech law, hate speech and comments inciting national, racial or religious hatred can carry penalties of up to three years in prison.
Bartos is under investigation for four incidents involving allegedly racist, anti-Semitic and violence-inciting remarks. He also keeps a blog titled Hall of Jewish Fame that critics say lists politicians, journalists and other public figures of supposedly Jewish origin.
Bartos’ party failed to gain seats in the European elections last year, the only campaign it has run in under his leadership.
Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt in German, is located some 40 miles northwest of Prague.
The town was turned into a concentration and transit camp by the Nazis in 1941. Roughly 144,000 Jewish people were sent there during the Holocaust, most of whom were later transported to extermination camps in occupied Poland. Some 33,000 died in the Terezin camp.