We the undersigned scientists, employees of academic and research institutions, are seriously concerned about the sharp increase of xenophobia in society. Many politicians and members of the media adopt the rhetoric of fear of foreigners, of indifference to their suffering: language formerly regarded as extreme and unacceptable. Immigrants – human beings – are described as pests or parasites pouring into our country in order to suck dry our social security system or directly to commit murder and rape. Foreigners living in Europe are depicted as fifth columnists, crooks and criminals. Muslims are lumped together with terrorists, regardless of their real opinions and their wide-ranging religious convictions. Every day in our so called dove-like nation, voices call for the death of this or that group of foreigners. None of this reflects reality. It has less to do with the real migration crisis and more with the disease of our own society’s loss of humanity and sanity.
Therefore WE ENTREAT POLITICIANS not to capitalise on human misery in order to score cheap political points. Act like courageous statesmen, not like petty-minded power merchants! In immigration policy we urge you to take account of real needs and opportunities, not the fickle swings of public opinion. Everyone seeking a refuge in Europe should be granted safety and humane treatment. Those in real need must be accepted and integrated on an individual basis and according to a fair selection process, without being disqualified a priori on the grounds of their ethnic or religious identity.
WE APPEAL TO THE MEDIA to recognise the immense power they have over the views of society. Present truthful information in a rational manner: do not spread false rumours and alarm. Freedom of speech is one of our most valuable assets. Use it responsibly and sensitively. History teaches us that fear gives rise to lack of freedom. Freedom of speech, when used to tell lies and to slander innocent people, destroys itself.
But most of all, WE RESPECTFULLY ASK THE GENERAL PUBLIC, each and every one of you – of us – to judge things carefully and from a critical perspective! Time and time again we must challenge our opinions with the facts, with our own conscience, and with ordinary common sense. Only in this way will we not succumb to primitive instincts, nor lose our dignity as human beings with the gift of free will. Let us not be manipulated by fraudsters who sow the seeds of phoney fears into our minds and then reap the fruits solely for their own benefit, whether these are votes in elections or media publicity. We must not blindly trust every rumour we hear. Let us remember that the more shocking and frightening the message, the further from the truth it is. Let us substantiate the information that shapes our views – often just a few clicks on the internet is enough to uncover the lies that are pretending to be reliable news. We must not turn our backs on the misery of others! It is naive and dangerous to think that we can separate ourselves from the world and ignore its problems. On the contrary: the more active we are in helping to solve these problems, the lesser will be their impact on us in the future. Take an interest in what is happening in the world; let us try to understand the real causes of evil, and together look for ways to confront it.
Text by Lukáš Novák, Anna Vanclová (now Novák Vanclová), Martin Blažek, and others. English translation by Alžběta Tomková (now Svobodová). By january 2018 the public appeal collected 3469 signatures of academics and 9170 signatures of general public. You can visit the campaign page or our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Read more about xenophobia in the Czech Republic in English eg. here or here. Some reports and reactions to the initiative in English can be found here, here, here, and here. We have received the Josef Lux Award for “ethically significant media act” in 2016.