Prague, June 17 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman said today that the spraying of abusive words on the statue of Winston Churchill in Prague had offended him very much and that he would like such acts to be punishable with community works.
Zeman also highlighted the contribution of the late British PM Churchill to the preservation of the Czechs’ national identity, in his speech on the occasion of the appointment of the regional courts’ chairpersons at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, Wednesday.
Zeman criticized the rise in vandalism, arson, and similar crimes at present. “I suppose that we sometimes underestimate such deeds unnecessarily and that envy and hatred towards those who were creating values expressed by those who are unable to create any has been expanding in our society,” the president said in his speech.
He cited the recent spraying of the words “he was a racist” on the Winston Churchill statue. Had it not been for Churchill, Britain would have signed a separate peace with Nazi Germany in 1940, Zeman recalled.
“Exactly because Churchill refused to do so then, we, as a nation, must be grateful to him for having preserved our specific national character, identity, and even physical existence. The vandalism committed by the two women is actually the denial of our history,” Zeman stressed.
He also wished the regional courts’ new heads that these deeds be more distinctively punished in the practice of theirs and their subordinates. “Community works would often be adequate punishment,” he said, adding that the perpetrators themselves would thus have to remove their “doodles” from statues and buildings.
Zeman noted that he liked Churchill and that the damage to his monument had offended him very much.
Last week, someone sprayed inscriptions “He was a racist” and “Black lives matter” on the plinth of Churchill’s statue in the Prague 3 district. The police are investigating the act on suspicion of damage caused to property of another.
Two women claimed responsibility for the act in the online daily Alarm. They said by the inscription about Churchill’s racism, they wanted to provoke a debate on his role in history and show solidarity with the current struggles for equality.
In recent weeks, mass protests against police violence and racism burst out in the USA and elsewhere in reaction to the death of African American George Floyd during a police raid in Minneapolis. The protesters also attacked statues of politicians and other personalities condemned over racism.
Churchill (1874-1965) led Britain during its war against Hitler’s Germany.
The female sprayers said they did not intend to play down the awareness of his successes, but they pointed out his contribution to the famine in Bengal, the use of chemical weapons against demonstrators in Iraq and the shooting against miners striking in Wales in 1910. They also mentioned British detention camps in Kenya.
They challenged the opinion saying Churchill’s racism and anti-Semitism was nothing exceptional at that time. “We firmly believe that we have at least contributed to opening a debate, though, unfortunately, we cannot join it, otherwise we would be punished,” they wrote.