News Karol Sidon to step down as chief Prague rabbi
The chief rabbi of Prague, Karol Sidon, has announced he will resign as of July 1st, after 22 years in the post. The 71-year-old Sidon will retain his position as the chief rabbi of the Czech Republic. The head of the Prague Jewish Community, Jan Munk, said the rabbi’s age as well as the fact that another rabbi had well adapted to serving the community, were the main reasons behind Karol Sidon’s decision. Karol Sidon, who converted to Judaism in 1978, was an anti-communist dissident, and in the 1980s left Czechoslovakia for Germany under pressure from the communist secret police. He has written several novels and theatre plays; most recently, he authored a best-selling novel under the pseudonym of Chaim Cigan.
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Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek approves three million crowns in humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip to be used in reconstruction and renewal. The funds are to proceed through UNWRA, the UN’s relief and human development agency. The Czech Republic is continuing in its policy to provide aid for the Palestine autonomous territories.
Some 90 firefighters have completed putting up a refugee camp, comprising of 25 tents, in Břeclav-Poštorná to house an eventual 300 inhabitants. The camp is located at a monitored site; locals have also asked for increased security on town streets by the local police. Mayor Pavel Dominik and South Moravian governor Michal Hašek spoke to journalists, with the mayor saying that while locals were not happy about the centre it was better than migrants moving freely through the town and causing a fuss. He added the situation was “complicated but not tragic”. The town on Tuesday filed charges against an individual who tried to cause a stir by posting falsely on the internet that the camp was full with 4,000 people. The mayor stressed that it is empty at this time.
Czech model Žaneta Hučíková was detained in Colorado recently after a mid-air flap on a flight from Las Vegas to Frankfurt, Germany. Flight attendants were alerted to the fact Ms Hučíková has smuggled a cat on board; the model reportedly interfered when the animal was locked in the restroom. The flight was subsequently diverted to Denver, escorted by F-16 fighter jets from Buckley Air Force Base. Ms Hučíková was detained after the authorities learned her visitor’s visa had expired and was ordered to appear in court.
Firefighters were called to assist in more than 5,800 over the course of the driest summer in the Czech Republic since 2003. In fires in July and August, 27 people lost their lives while 253 were injured, Nicole Zaoralová, spokeswoman for the Czech fire corps general directorate, confirmed. Fires in fields and forests were fairly frequent due to the extreme drought. But the blaze which caused the greatest damage, estimated at 285 million crowns, broke out at a storage facility in Prague.
Jiří Louda, WWII veteran and one of the country’s top heraldists, has died at the age of 94. Mr Louda designed around 200 town and municipality coat-of-arms as well as the Large State Emblem of the Czech Republic, based on heraldic symbols going back centuries. In WWII, Mr Louda made his way to Great Britain where he signed up as a paratrooper; he was later imprisoned by the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and released in 1950.
Former footballer Pavel Nedvěd, a runner-up at Euro 96 and player who made his name with Italian clubs Lazio and Juventus Turin appears likely to be honoured by the Czech state. Nedvěd, nicknamed Furia Ceca by Italian fans, flew to China with Czech President Zeman on Tuesday; the Czech News Agency reported that Mr Zeman told the former player to leave October 28th open – the day the nation’s highest honours are awarded. Nedvěd, who was European footballer of the year in 2003, has been routinely nominated for state honours by the Czech Senate.
Almost three-fifths of Czechs are unhappy with the way the Czech government has so far handled the migrant crisis, a new poll by Focus suggests. According to the survey, 87 percent said that refugees in the Czech Republic were a major problem while 93 percent were in favour of refugees being sent back. The migrant wave and government response is seen as most problematic, the poll suggests, by Czechs with high school educations, small-business owners but also some top managers, residents of smaller and medium-sized towns, pensioners and seniors. More than 1,000 people over the age of 18 took part in the poll in the second half of August.
The Liberec branch of the Christian Democratic Party expelled prominent local politician Daniel Kalenda from its ranks on Monday evening in response to a recent post he made on Facebook; in it he referred to the recent tragedy in Austria where 71 refugees were found dead in an abandoned transport truck, calling the migrants “dirt” that did not belong in Europe. He added that they should have known better than to get into an enclosed van in the first place. Hours later he deleted the entry saying he had been heavily drunk when he posted it. Eighteen of 19 members of the committee on Monday voted for Kalenda’s expulsion. The head of the committee, Kamil Jan Svoboda, expressed shock over his words, calling them unheard of.
Czech President Miloš Zeman is in China where he will take part in events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Asia. On Thursday he will attend a huge military parade in the centre of Beijing while his visit will also include talks with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. Mr. Zeman is the only European Union head of state or government taking part in the Chinese war commemorations.
The deputy chairman of the Czech Football Association, Roman Berbr, and the chairwoman of the referees commission, Dagmar Damková, say they will take legal action against former referee Libor Kovařík. In an interview for the newspaper Sport Mr. Kovařík said that Mr. Berbr – who is Ms. Damková’s life partner – controlled the country’s referees using mafia practices. Mr. Berbr said the pair had decided to turn the matter over to their lawyers as they had recently become the target of defamation and lies that harmed not only them but the Czech FA. Mr. Kovařík said he had retired because of Mr. Berbr’s alleged control of referees.