Thankfully, most of the Czech written media have reported on a relatively minor incident involving Arab students that took place in the historical city of Olomouc – which I visited twice in recent years – yesterday.
This is the Upper Square (the Lower Square is nearby) with its city hall and their Astronomical Clock (not quite as pretty as the clock in Prague but still interesting). Meters away from the city hall, a group of members of "We Don't Want Islam In Czechia" NGO was collecting signatures on their petition against the EU refugee quotas.
During the last 2 weeks, the number of refugees that the European Commission wants to be given asylum in Czechia has doubled or tripled, to 3.2% of the available refugees or 1,328 folks (the percentage makes Czechia the almost canonical average EU member again) from Syria and Eritrea. With this doubling time, Czechia would be a mostly Muslim country before the Christmas – except that there would be no Christmas anymore. ;-)
In the previous article, I discussed various reasons why the quotas are morally and legally unjustifiable. But there are lots of other problems that immediately arise: Would we be able to deal with these folks? How many extra policemen and other employees would have to be hired? Could we really reject to grant asylum to these applicants? If they're rejected, wouldn't they get lost and become invisible illegal immigrants? And even if they're accepted, won't they move to countries they consider even more attractive, anyway?
Those 1,328 people isn't a huge amount but this group would still make 1/8,000 of the Czech population. Each town with 8,000 inhabitants would receive one such refugee in average. Most of such small towns are really not prepared to become refugee camps. Well, we don't have any refugee camps in the country, after all. I can imagine that refugees and immigrants may be problem-free and often positive contributions to the society. But it's so far from certainty and in many cases, it is very unlikely and the risks may be high – which is why the nations simply have to preserve their sovereignty over similar decisions.
About 98% of the Czech population opposes the refugee quotas. The opponents include all the top politicians – the president, the prime minister, the oligarch finance minister (maybe the most powerful man in the country now), and most others. Within the EU, the "clear" opposition to the proposal is very close to those 13 countries or countries with 35% of the population – sufficient conditions to veto the plan. So whether this proposal may be vetoed remains scarily uncertain.
Petr Mach, the libertarian deputy of the European Parliament whom I know in person and whom I voted for, studied the EU laws and recommended Czechia to sue the EU in the case that the plan is adopted because the redistribution of the people isn't allowed by the relevant EU laws and similar measures – mostly financial contributions – were envisioned only in the case of "emergency situations" in some of the EU member states and this arguably ain't one.
But let me return to Olomouc. There has already been some conflict around the booth on Thursday. But the most important events took place yesterday.
As most media told us, a group of 15-20 Arab Muslim students didn't like the anti-quota petition. (Only a small minority of the media omit the ethnicity of the attackers.) Some of the journalists also revealed that they were mostly foreign students of medicine. And a smaller percentage of the media reported that these students started to yell that "Czechs have no right to decide about immigration" and, more juicily, "we have so much money that in 15 years, all of you will be our slaves". I didn't know that the students of medicine in Czechia were this wealthy – but at any rate, it's nice!
The most "assertive" student tried to destroy the booth. He (probably) only managed to tear the printed paper from a banner. Police was nearby, send four police cars, and immediately acted to calm the situation down. The "assertive" student had to talk with the rector of his university. The rector told him: "This is not how we will be doing things here in Czechia. If you disagree, you may pen your own petition, e.g. 'We want immigrants in Czechia', and I will volunteer to deliver the first signature'."
You see that the rector is kind of politically correct when it comes to his opinions about immigration (and most commenters who reacted to his response still consider him a traitor) but he still has enough decency to realize that there was no doubt which side was behaving inadequately. The Muslims have unquestionably attacked the basic freedom of expression and political rights of the Czech petition organizers. The freedom must be defended – even when the rector doesn't quite agree with the petition.
Even though the number of Muslims in Czechia is just 10,000, i.e. 0.1% of the population, such incidents may happen. The pessimist's view is to imagine that the number will increase by orders of magnitude which will totally change the number of similar incidents and the whole atmosphere in the country.
Well, maybe but I still prefer the optimist's viewpoint. It is actually great that almost everyone in my country realizes that Islamism may pose a systematic threat for our freedoms and they're willing to deal with this threat. I am almost certain that if a similar incident took place at Harvard, the authorities would endorse the soft terrorists.
How should you describe these students? They haven't murdered anyone. But given their intimidating chants, are they representatives of a religion or peace? I don't think so. Even though they may be the "intellectual elite" among Arabs, some of them are still thugs and serious security threats. I do think that the non-university Muslims could be much worse in average.
Also, you may see that when these folks clump in a larger group, their self-confidence goes up and the most aggressive members of the group are effectively dictating what happens. None of the Arabs in the group has tried to calm down their terrorist wing during the incident.
On the other hand, when the incident was over, we got a completely different idea who is the "boss" in the group. The most moderate member was quoted to be "sorry" of the behavior of their "street leader". Even the Muslims have divided opinions about the refugee quotas, we hear, and they surely support the freedom of expression in the Czech Republic, and so on.
Which portrait is more accurate? It depends. On the street and in the real life, the portrait of Muslims as a mob led by the most terroristically talented bullies is the more accurate description. When they need to be described in the media, they become a peaceful group with minor exceptions that sometimes do a minor offense.
I prefer to see the real life and not just its distorted caricatures. The incident shows us in quite some detail what kind of influence on the atmosphere in the society we should expect if sacrificed our control over immigration policies.
Bonus: a chilling 7-minute interview with Sheikh Ahmad of Sweden.