Are the Czechs friendly people

"Not all Czechs are xenophobic"

The Czech Republic has probably no bigger trademark than beer. For many people in this country this is simply part of being Czech. But not for Eman Ghaleb:

“I don't think that roast pork with cabbage and beer are actually symbols of being Czech. The Czech Republic is much more colorful and beautiful. I'm not saying that beer is gross. Especially since I've never tried it. "

This is not only due to the young woman's Muslim faith, even if her aversion to beer has a lot to do with it:

“I've never had beer before. It's not particularly appealing to me either, so I'm sure I won't miss anything. In my opinion, life without alcohol can actually work. I also know a lot of Czechs who don't necessarily like beer and pork. But these are only details, and you can easily be a Czech and a Muslim at the same time. I often sit together with my friends, they then drink beer, I just have something without alcohol. "

Eman Ghaleb is a native of Yemen. Her father came to Teplice in northern Bohemia sometime in the early noughties and has been working there as a doctor ever since. Eman was a child at the time, but has now spent most of her life in the Czech Republic. But does she feel Czech in any way?

“Of course I feel Czech. I've lived here since I was five and this is my home. I don't even know it anywhere else. And when it comes to football, hockey or any other public holiday, I experience it like any other Czech. "

And of course she would cheer for the national team, Eman adds. However, especially because of her headscarf, many in the Czech Republic question Eman's being Czech:

"That happens often. On the street, for example, many are surprised when I speak Czech without an accent. I just look a little different, dress a little differently and have an unfamiliar name. Many see this as a hurdle to actually accepting me as a Czech. People often believe in stereotypes that give them a definition of a real Czech. "

Does Islam belong to the Czech Republic?

In a recent large survey on the subject, two thirds of Czechs said that Islam was a threat. That was in 2014, before the migration crisis. So the Czech Republic and Islam don't really seem to belong together. But what does that mean for Eman, who is a self-confessed Muslim but at the same time feels very Czech?

“In fact, it's a little more difficult with identity. Not that my generation doesn't feel like they belong to Czech society. But you are still perceived as somehow strange. It's just the look or the name. Another problem is always this collective guilt. If there is a terrorist attack in the world or something else negative happens with an Islamic link, then we don't really know how to deal with it. Why should we apologize for something we are not to blame for? This is precisely what creates boundaries and ensures that young people move away from the majority society. They are afraid of collective guilt and thus of the future. "

Eman also sees no breach of identity in the fact that she wears her headscarf in public:

“For many Muslims these days, belief is a private matter. Some will now say that there is a contradiction, especially among women. They wear a headscarf, for many this is a sign of Islam. But the headscarf belongs to a much broader identity of women. For me, for example, it's a private matter, and I don't see the headscarf as a sign of my faith or my alleged resistance to European values. These are not attacked by it anyway. Thank God everyone in Europe can dress how they want, but also believe and mean what they want. Europe develops through diversity. I know many Muslims from predominantly Islamic countries who want this openness for their own society. That this is also based on tolerance, respect and freedom. The misfortune of the Islamic countries is not Islam, but rather the mentality of the people there. Behind this is the lack of education and moral depravity that has found its way into these countries since the colonial times. "

Hostility and tolerance

But back to Islam specifically in the Czech Republic. Eman herself wanted to mediate between Muslims and Czechs in her hometown of Teplice. After all, many people from Arab countries come to the spa town as spa guests. The high school student translated and explained to the mainly Arab visitors how to behave. She was less lucky with the Czech side, some time ago she was publicly hostile on social networks. Nevertheless, she has a positive image of the Czechs:

“It has happened to me before, and it will probably happen to me in the future. The people here are not used to Muslims and get their picture of us through certain messages. Even if these messages are made up. That leads to collective blame, but I can understand that. When people are afraid, they try to defend themselves. And sometimes it turns into hatred. I was always afraid of lumping all Czechs into one pot at some point. I never wanted to say that the Czechs are xenophobic racists because that's not true. I can actually count negative experiences on one hand. I've had many more positives there. It is always individuals who are radical, as is the case with Muslims. But it is precisely these who are responsible for everyone's bad reputation. "

Eman even finds the Czechs extremely tolerant, even in a small town like Teplice. Maybe even in comparison with other cities in the Czech Republic and Europe:

“You keep hearing that the Czechs are not tolerant. That the Czech Republic is racist and xenophobic. That is not true. From my own experience I can say that the country is tolerant, but above all the city in which I live. In the media, Teplice often appears as a kind of new Molenbeek, a new ghetto in Europe. But that's not the case, and the people here are more tolerant than in Prague. You have got used to each other here, there is a friendly atmosphere. ”The customer review has been automatically translated from German.