It was Saturday afternoon and Boris and I were standing at the tram stop. We saw a group of eight young men and one young woman dressed in black and carrying black flags. Boris got that inquisitive look. I suddenly realised who the kids in black were and what they were doing.
Saturday, the 17th of November, was a Czech holiday – the Day of struggle for freedom and democracy. The day marks the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and the day the Nazis closed the Czech universities in 1939.
On the previous Saturday, the Prague community and the police had prevented neo-Nazis from marching through the Jewish quarter of Prague. One group of neo-Nazis, Autonomní Nacionalisté – the Autonomous Nationalists – had subsequently announced a demonstration for the 17th. It would take place at Palackého náměstí, recently designated Prague’s “Hyde Park Corner”, where no permit is required for speech and assembly. On that day, the fascists would protest the death of freedom of speech.
And once again, I am delighted at the irony.
“We are for arguments instead of bans and we want the freedom of speech,” declared one of the speakers at the rally.
Because everyone knows that freedom of speech is one of the core values of fascism.