This is an original translation by Xanthippas
By Daniel Vavra 07/02/2016
Since it was taking place practically in our own backyard, we decided that after lunch, we’d stroll up to The Castle [seat of Czech Parliament and site of the ‘Fortress Europe’ rally] before it starts and I will then attend this ‘”fascist” rally.
Shortly after we had set out, I was a bit taken back by the actions of the police.
They were blocking almost all the entrances to the Hradcanske Square [The Castle] and only letting the Antifa demonstrators through to the path to The Castle, so that all those going to the IVCRN [Fortress Europe] demonstration had to pass through about a 2 meter wide corridor between the police and the anarchists. I am not certain who tried to achieve what by this, but it certainly did not lead to a comfortable atmosphere.
The people going to the rally behaved in a much more civilized manner than the antifascists, who were aggressively belligerent. Since I did not want to ‘mix it up’, we took the Radnice staircase towards Loreta – again, not anticipating anything bad.
At the narrowest part of the staircase, there was a group of idiotic hipsters, one of whom had a very old bike about which they led an animated debate – heedless of the throng of tourists that was trying to take this route to get around the rally. At the top of the staircase, where the second entrance to the Hradcany Square [The Castle] is, there was a police barrier and the police were not letting anyone through, since people were supposed to enter the square from below, at the Nerudova street entrance.
I have no idea why they were doing this. Perhaps they wanted to make sure that every “fascist” had to pass by the antifascists, so it would not be hard for them to find each other should they wanted to pick a fight.
I continued on towards Loreta, where there was some kind of a rally which, at first look, seemed to be anti-migrant because the person speaking was saying something about being “for closing the borders” and “we cannot let everyone in” and similar such ideas which, just a few months ago, were regarded as heretical Konvicka sayings [Konvicka heads up the Anti-Islam Bloc]. However, I found it suspicious that the audience, of whom there were at most 300, looked like voters for the Green Party and the whole thing was accompanied by some kind of Balcan oompa-band. It turns out, the speaking points of the ‘sunshiners’ have changed from mindless welcoming into what Konvicka was saying in the summer of 2015.
When we wanted to continue on, we were stopped by another police cordon. They informed us that we cannot go on, just because. Yet, they were letting the sunshiners through no problem and, surprisingly, nobody was attacking anyone.
It started to smell, as if the police were stoking the fire beneath the cauldron of passions, so we decided to go back home.
However, when we got back to the stairs by which we had entered – the only way out, those hipsters who had earlier blocked it through their rudeness were now using some sort of a banner and were blocking the stairs, hand in hand, quite intentionally. The crowd of tourists and IVCNR supporters thus found itself trapped and began to get pissed off. I was, too, because I wanted to get my wife and kid home.
A conflict-resolution team began to negotiate with the idiots, not letting the people leave the other way, back to the square, and it began to look like a fight would start; people started pushing.
The funny thing was, it was those idiots on the stairs who, at this point, owed their well being to the heavily-armoured forces protecting them from being trampled by the pissed-off crowd. Well, these idiots were yelling and screaming at the heavily-armoured forces, saying their human rights were being violated (because blocking a staircase just might be a real human right) and that they will see them in court.
In the end, among all the confusion, we had managed to push our way out, [my] family went home and I went on to see what a “fascist” rally looks like.
After we managed to get through a blockade of twenty-kilo hipsters and crazed women, who managed to survive their own heroism only due to the police – yet who were united in their hatred of it, I ventured down the only unblocked way to the rally, so that I could personally see this “evil” and so that I could also compare the Czech TV’s reports on the number of participants with the reality on the ground.
The first thing that surprised me was that at the scenic lookout over Prague, I was welcomed by a few hundreds strong crowd of Anarchists with signs “Antifascism belongs on the street” and with the warcries of “No pasaran!” and “Alerta Alerta Antifascista!” Everyone coming to the rally was forced by the police and their blockade of all the access routes to walk this sort of an isle of police and aggressive activists.
I don’t know who wanted to achieve what by doing this, but calming the situation down was most definitely not it. Whatever genius issued a permit for IVCRN and Antifa to hold simultaneous rallies in the same city square must truly have had a cunning plan.
I admit that as soon as I got there, I was surprised by the number of ‘man’s men’ in patriotic t-shirts present. Now, I do not mean football hooligans, but the dads of families, often with moms, who are so fed up by now that they went and bought t-shirts saying ‘Bohemia’ or ‘This land is my land’ and headed to Prague.
Similarly, I was surprised how calmly they bore it when the rebels yelled that they are fascists and they had to pass through that isle of shame. “Luza [the loosers]” had, considering the level of provocation, behaved in a rather civilized manner.
At first, there were fewer people in the town square than I had expected. Later, it became clear that this was mostly because the police were doing everything in their power to prevent demonstrators from reaching Hradcany [The Castle] – and that they did not succeed [to keep out] a considerable number of people.
Two of my friends, who came for a look-see, had phoned me saying that Nerudova Street [entrance] is closed off, blocked by a procession of Anarchists who are not marching anywhere but staying put, so that nobody could get through.
Finally, the town square had filled up – by my estimate, at least six thousand people. According to the police, it was 15,000. According to TV3, the square has the area of about 200x50m and in the lower half, people were truly packed in tight. In the upper part, it was a bit less packed but still quite thick, so it is realistic to estimate 1 person per meter [squared], which would give a count of about 10,000.
The makeup of the crowd was varied. Everyone who had been to any kind of a rally for whatever reason knows that this is a magnet for all kinds of anti-social people, the homeless, jerks and idiots – which can always be used to successfully discredit any demonstration whatsoever. However, the number of drunk provocateurs here was surprisingly small. Aside from the aforementioned men and often their wives, the older generation was also here, as were some sporting the ‘coffehouse’ look, women, a few families with children.
Definitely, men were in the majority. Football hooligans and skinheads also formed a non-negligable group. Indeed, there were quite a few and later, I found out why this might be so. On the internet, this had been coming to a head for a long time: Antifa had been calling people up to form blockades so many people really did come out to have a football-style fight. However, the whole time there, I did not have any feeling of danger by anyone to anyone.
This was only a worry for when the time to leave came and these people would meet up with those who were doing all that shouting on the way here. Tourists of the most varied skin tones had also happened upon the event, suspecting nothing bad, and to my surprise, I did not hear any racist comments in their direction, much less any aggressive behaviour.
The rally itself lasted for just over an hour. We saw a variety of the star candidates from Usvit [Dawn of Direct Democracy], who repeated things already spoken a thousand times, and guests. Konvicka [an entomologist and the chair of the Block Against Islam], had, in my opinion, escalated things unnecessarily when he used words like ‘collaborators’ followed by a list of people whom he considers as such.
The absence of high-mindedness and gentlemanly conduct at these kind of activities really bothers me. Dientsbier’s miss-steps [Dientsbier is the US-born Czech Minister for Human Rights] can be pointed out politely, even humorously, and not just in a style reminiscent of incitement to a lynching.
The guests from Switzerland and Germany were witty: their fiery speeches in their native tongues, in conjunction with the many shaved heads in the audience, had a bit of a bizzarre effect, even thought they did not say anything untowards. Still, nobody decided to ‘heil’, even as a jest, and overall, nothing untowards was happening. I did not see anyone with a gallows, and nobody was shouting anything that Pelikan [the Czech Minister for Justice] could have them jailed for.
Towards the end of the speeches, a police car had appeared at our backs and a bit of a mele happened, which became apparent by the sudden disappearance of the rougher types. Apparently, the police had decided to pacify one of the hooligans and his friends chose to help him. However, it did not turn into much of anything.
The whole time, I was worried about what will happen at the end, when the clusters of anarchists and skinheads will start to head off the streets into Mala Strana [another area of Prague] and the thousands of normal people and the tourists will get mixed into this.
The police had decided to avoid this danger through the most bizzarre means possible and instead of letting people leave by the easiest exits, they forced absolutely everyone to exit through the narrowest alley into ‘Novy Svet’. Ten thousand people had to pass through a 3m wide bottleneck.
I do not know if the police forced everyone through this narrow spot in order to count and photograph everyone, in any case, this was idiotic and not a hair was harmed on the heads of the group of dusky tourists trying to make their way through. Even more bizzarre was that from the next intersection on, there was nobody directing the traffic so the whole crowd headed towards the Radnice Stairs, where the Anarchist demo had been.
Along the way, we had encountered a man who had fallen down and hit his head and all the xenophobes passing by were offering to help him. Then they all went home.
Or so I thought.
In reality, the subway was shut down, the trams [buses] were shut down and all the bridges were closed. The Anarchists at the Manes bridge attempted to fight it out with the hooligans, and their Twitter account had, for a long time, announced to the world that there still is a group of enemies one can have a ‘peaceful dialog’ with.
I must admit, I had not expected this.
I did not expect that anyone would use this rally as a playground for hooligan fights.
I did not expect that, by the looks of them, well-off intellectuals would, long before the start of the rally, try to limit others in their freedom of movement; that in the name of the fight for peace and justice, people would hurl paving stones at each other on The Castle stairs.
And it makes me quite sad.
And if someone tries to claim that this was provoked by Konvicka’s supporters, they are lying.
Had it not been for the actions of people holding banners against violence and extremism, no extremism would have taken place today, nobody would have thrown paving stones and the hooligans would still be fighting at football matches and not at Mala Strana [area of Prague].
Similarly, their actions did not, in any way, contribute towards calming the situation, did not alter the views of the participants (more like the opposite) nor did it bring closer any sane resolution of this turmoil.
Source: Daniel Vavra (abridged)
Note: all emphasis is that of the original author.
Note: some paragraph breaks were inserted by the translator