Prague - Around 300 Muslims met near the Interior Ministry headquarters in the Czech capital for a Friday prayer service and to protest against last Friday's police raid at Prague's Islamic center, which also serves as a mosque. The demonstration was peaceful.
The protesters said that the raid, which disrupted last week's Friday prayer, was unnecessarily harsh. The Indonesian embassy in Prague, whose officials were inside the mosque during the raid, has filed an official protest.
Such police actions may cause an “increase of extremism and anti-Muslim feelings,” said Center of Muslim Communities chairman Munib Hasan Alravi, adding that the Czech Republic's Muslim community is troubled by a “wave of xenophobic comments” that emerged after the raid.
Alravi also said that last week's raid might have been an attempt by people who had left the Muslim faith to damage the reputation of Muslims in the society.
The Czech Republic's non-Muslim religious groups have also criticized the raid. Police had other options than to conduct a raid during a prayer, said Czech Ecumenical Council of Churches chairman Joel Ruml. He added that police and the interior minister should apologize.
The Interior Ministry and police have said there will be an inquiry into the controversial raid. Czech Police President Tomas Tuhy told Aktualne.cz that several institutions, including the Center of Muslim Communities and the Indonesian embassy, have filed a complaint with the police. Tuhy added that he has tasked Deputy Police President Vaclav Kucera with looking into the issue. The anti-mafia police squad UOOZ, which conducted the raid, falls under Kucera's authority.
The raid was conducted on April 25 by the anti-mafia squad UOOZ and resulted in the arrest of a 55 year-old Czech national. The man was charged with promoting movements aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. He is suspected of distributing a book with “racist content”, police said.
Czech media reported that the book in question was titled “The Foundations of Tauhid: The Islamic Concept of God”.
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