A group of vigilantes boarded a train in the Czech Republic, pledging to ‘protect’ passengers from migrants, eye witnesses have claimed.
The men joined the train from Prague to the city of Czeske Budejovice wearing camouflage jackets and green military trousers and told passengers “Everything is fine, we are just protecting you.”
One witness, named Ondrej, told iDNES.cz the presence of the men made him feel “uneasy”. He said they were also wearing t-shirts with “Gott mit uns'” – a phrase that was commonly used on Imperial German and later Nazi uniforms – on the back, along with the logo of a group called ‘We Don’t Want Islam in the Czech Republic’ (IVCRN).
Another passenger said the men claimed to be secret officers, but “seemed more like AC Sparta fans”.
Ondrej then said he called the conductor, who told him that while Czech Railways does have security personnel, they would not wear civilian clothes. The men were told to stay in their compartment, but they soon returned to Ondrej and said they were only trying to protect him.
The train crew called the police, with local police spokeswoman Eva Stulíková confirming an incident had been reported.
Local officers said the men had been identified and that the information had been passed to state officers.
The Czech Republic’s political establishment is currently split on how to deal with the migrant crisis. President Milos Zeman recently gave an interview in which he told migrants to “respect our laws, just as we respect the law when we come to your country” and “If you do not like it, go away.”
He was criticised by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, however, who accused him of appealing to people’s “basest instincts”.
“This is the same stance that Hungarians share when they build a fence against Serbia, and Americans who have built a fence on their border with Mexico,” he added.
The IVCRN group has previously organised protests against Islam, with one in January attracting several hundred people to the streets of Prague.