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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Klinika Attacked by Neo-Nazis

Following a day of protests in Prague both for an against migration in Europe, the autonomous social center Klinika came under attack last night. During the days demonstrations, a legal permitted march against “fortress Europe” organized in cooperation with Klinika's collective came under attack more than twenty fascists and neo-nazis. They came from behind the march as it turned a corner attempting to cut it in half. As the peacefully protestors in the march turned to protect themselves from the fascists, an overwhelmed group of police offers intervened to stand between the two groups. The neo-nazis began throwing whatever they could find at the marchers; eventually rocks, sticks, and small explosive devices. The marches defended themselves by returning the projectiles and eventually the much larger numbers of the march intimidated the attackers into retreat as they turned and ran away.

This group had been antagonizing people throughout Prague earlier in the day. I personally saw the same group earlier that day on public transport as I went to the rally. They were very aggressive with riders, including accosting one young women – trying to get her to come with them. She quickly left the train, visibly shaken, upon which one of them – previously speaking Czech – claimed she was a good “Deutsches Mensch.” I got off at the same stop as them and while we went different ways, me towards the beginning of our march, they went in a direction that would put them exactly where they attacked the march from.

Upon completion of the march – which included continuous antagonism from nationalist elements, and a few more radical characters – people made their way back to Klinika at differing speeds. When I arrived, there was a small group of people there that had just learned that the Nazis were coming to attack Klinika. We prepared as best we could but quickly came under attack. We pepper sprayed them which kept them outside long enough for us to lock and barricade the door. At this point they started throwing rocks at the windows, shattering the old medical clinics windows with ease. As we attempted to barricade the windows, glass and debris flew everywhere. One member of the Klinika collective was hit, opening a gash on his forehead. The rocks were followed by a lit flare sending sparks and fire all over, but it got caught in the shards of the multi-paned glass still jaggedly protruding from the window. We quickly put this out as the rocks stopped flying.

At this point, things calmed down for a few seconds and we were all able to check on others throughout the building. However, the calm quickly ended as one collective member yelled fire! Several of us ran into the hallway where the smoke was coming from and found thick smoke throughout the entire atrium the entire downstairs cafe area was full of smoke with flames leaping from the window at the entrance. They had apparently broken the windows there in the same fashion as upstairs and thrown another incendiary devise in which lit the drapes on fire. We were still able to put it out without much permanent damage to anything but the windows and furniture.

This attack though, was a brazen and coordinated attack on an autonomous social and community center in the heart of Prague that offers a free non-commoditized space for people of all ages and persuasions to take free language lessons, have a quite beer, take their kids to nursery school, attend free lectures, and even attend meditation classes. However, the center has also been a hub for aid and relief for migrants, and therefore a target within the migrant crisis gripping all of Europe. The center acted as a staging area for relief goods going east and south for newly arriving refugees from the war torn areas of the middle east and central Asia. Given the days protest event against migration in Europe, the escalating anti-muslim rhetoric and political climate it foments, it could easily be said to be the rationale for the attack – if there ever could be a rationale for such an irrational act of violence; or better put, terrorism. For that is what this was, definitionally, an act of terrorism. This group of fascists attacked an innocent group of people providing a safe space for the community and aid for those in need.

Whether you agree with Klinika's politics or not, with migration or not, there is – and can be no – justification for the same type of terrorist attack that these fascists and their nationalist brethren portend to be against. If you hate Muslim people because .000001% are engaged in radical politics and use violence in an attempt to get their way, then how is anyone to condone the same thing within our own midst? Again, whether you agree with Klinika's politics or not, if this is a democracy and everyone is entitled to their political beliefs, then you have to respect Klinika's political efforts and condemn this brazen act of violence against peaceful protestors and an autonomous community center simply trying to help people. It is in peace that Klinika exists, and here now – as 400 plus people come to show solidarity – that Klinika survives and excels in defiance of violence and terrorism.       

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