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Letters to the editor

Skinheads hurting tourism, investment
Racism in Slovakia no worse than many other countries

Skinheads hurting tourism, investment

Dear Editor,
It is with anger and fear that I write about the increasing abuses and racial beatings by these uncivilised skinheads in Bratislava. You simply do not beat foreigners, as they are guests of the country. With the increasingly regular occurrence of this phenomenon, it seems the local police and government are incapable of managing this situation.
The government must realise that if its efforts to gain international recognition to attract foreign investments and to be a member of the elite Euro club are to be successful, basic human rights and respect for each individual regardless of race and religion must be strictly adhered too. Foreign investments will stop if racial beatings or abuses are not properly addressed. This is one of the many crucial steps Slovakia must take towards attracting international investors.
The February 17 beatings of two Japanese tourists spell a possible reduction of tourists visiting Slovakia, which has so much to offer with its rich culture and beautiful cities. With the warm summer months just around the corner, the police must spell out their action plans now and take ruthless measures against these skinheads, if necessary, to make this country, in particular Bratislava, a safe place.
The future of Slovakia cannot and must not be denied by these small groups of skinheads. If the government and the police are serious about promoting the growth and safety of foreigners in Slovakia, drastic actions must be taken and seen to be taken now.

Alison,
Bratislava


Racism in Slovakia no worse than many other countries

Dear Editor,
Your recent articles on anti-foreigner violence bring to light a growing problem. Racism in Slovakia and in Europe in general is not a new phenomenon, having been around for centuries. What has changed, though, is people's perception of this problem. Since most Slovaks are more concerned with the everyday problems brought about by the period of "economic transition," they have little time to dwell on such problems that do not directly affect them.
Perhaps it would help if they were to visit their kin that have emigrated to northern Europe, and could see for themselves the racism that often confronts central Europeans who are often equated with "Pakis", the derogatory term for Pakistanis and foreigners in general who do not hail from western or northern Europe. And then again, perhaps not.
Racism generally stems from a lack of understanding or a direct fear of other people. That is probally the reason why today wherever you go across the planet you will be confronted with the same spectre of racism rearing its ugly head. Amazingly, for all of the talk of globalisation, and the diminishing dimensions of the planet, we really have not come to the point of understanding each other better, of fearing each other less.
Some people who come to Slovakia might think that the country's isolation, history and geographic position would make it a tolerant society. But Slovakia, like the rest of Europe, the US and indeed the rest of the world, is not ready for multi-culturalism. I have lived in over 10 countries in my life and I have not yet had the chance to live in a truly multi-cultural society. Wherever I have gone I have found manifestations of racism. Some of the outwardly most tolerant and multi-cultural societies have shown themselves to be racist at heart.
So Slovakia is not alone in this regard. What really disturbs and scares me about all this violence, though, is that one day it could happen to me, to my wife, to my daughter. One day, walking in Bratislava, or here in Nitra, it will happen to us. That is what is most disturbing. No one can prepare you for that day. One day my daughter may be brutally beaten because she is Brazilian/Uzbek/American, or because she is muslim or simply because she was walking with a Chinese or a Nigerian man. I know many people who were attacked for similar reasons.
Are we really so powerless to stop such hate? Are we prepared ourselves to accept the other?

Scott Hartmann
Nitra

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