Issue Story: Hate Free Culture

By: Shayla Strange

The Czech Republic remains one of the least welcoming countries to immigrants in the European Union. Allegations of discrimination against foreigners and immigrants encouraged the government to create a campaign that would somehow bring the country together. The campaign is named “The Hate Free Culture,” and has gained a lot of attention over the past years.

The Hate Free Culture campaign was created in 2013 to combat xenophobia. “The campaign was highly controversial because the topic is controversial,” former director of the campaign, Jaroslav Valuch, stated. The campaign has attracted over 6,000 active followers on its Facebook page, but the plot twist is that about 70 percent of the people who share content are not supporters of the actual campaign. Those who don’t support the campaign share the most content, which works in favor of the Hate Free Culture campaigners, because their goal is to reach more people.

Mama Coffee.

Many businesses joined the campaign and can be easily identified throughout the city of Prague by the stickers they use to display their support of the campaign. But displaying support is not always popular and can lead to major issues.  Last year there was an attack on some of the businesses that chose to show their support for the Hate Free Culture campaign.

A group of students roamed around the city targeting supporters of the movement, spraying swastikas on windows of shops and stores. After the attack, some of the businesses decided to opt out of supporting the campaign, because they were afraid, while many decided to stand their ground and maintain their support. Mama Coffee was one of those businesses who chose to keep supporting the program.

“We decided that our company has some core values because our families were connected to the Holocaust, so we decided that one of the key elements in the company is that we will not accept any type of racism,” Daniel Kolsky, owner of Mama Coffee stated. Mama Coffee has many locations throughout the city, and Kolosky and his wife decided that they wanted their business to be a part of the No Hate Free Culture campaign when it first began four years ago.

Mama Coffee was one of the businesses targeted by the vandals, and Kolosky described the experience as weird. “I got a phone call from the café that someone was doing something weird, and that something strange was going on,” Kolosky said. “We thought someone was trying to break in to steal something, but it was obvious it was a different kind of attack.”

The attackers wrapped the entire store and sprayed painted the wall, and Kolosky was not okay with that. The police, however, were less than helpful, he found. Kolosky said they didn’t do anything and were not willing to help much, but he demanded an incident report be completed.

After Kolosky repaired the damage the vandals had done, the business decided to keep its stance in supporting the campaign, and fighting for peace in the community. “There was no reason to pull out. I am a little sad there was no bigger support in the political parties, but the people do not have the support, which is worse and personal,” Kolosky stated.

Mama Coffee is a firm supporter of the Hate Free Culture campaign and has high hopes discrimination based on race, culture, and sexual orientation will come to an end in the Czech Republic soon. The campaign ended this year, but it aims to be not just a one-time thing. Those who support the Hate Free Culture program anticipate its renewal at some point in the future.