The Czech President has attacked an “idiotic” and “dangerous” school project about migrants which is promoted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), warning that it puts children at risk.
Czech President Milos Zeman was being interviewed on Czech Television when he criticised the ‘Hello Czech Republic’ materials aimed at teaching primary and secondary school pupils about migrants, reports the Czech News Agency. He said:
“The comics are another idiotic project of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR]. I think that it is just as naive as Bolshevik propaganda that, though it did not have the form of comics, was essentially just as stupid.”
The project materials, based on ones used in Sweden, include a comic book and film which tell the story of a boy called Hamid who sets off from Afghanistan to Sweden. In addition, the story of a Kurdish girl sent to Sweden by her mother is told in a 13 minute long film.
The awareness campaign aims to put children in the role of migrants. As such another element, intended to show school pupils what migration looks like from the point of view of the migrant, invents the story of a nuclear disaster forcing ten million Czechs to leave their country.
Mr. Zeman said that the use of comics “simplifies the situation” and that “stupid propaganda is dangerous”. Illustrating the point he said he believes that when in real contact with migrants, children behaving according to the materials could end up like a woman or a girl in a blind alley in Cologne.
The UNHCR materials were brought to the Czech Republic by the non-governmental organisation META. The organisation claimed it had the backing of the Czech Education Ministry, but last week the department’s minister — Katerina Valachova — distanced herself from the project, a move which yesterday met President Zeman’s approval.
She had assured fellow lawmakers the ministry did not assist in the preparation of the materials and would not distribute them to schools, reports Prague Monitor, saying that “by no means will I allow children to be scared this way or involved in the serious nationwide debate”.
Opposition deputy Miroslava Nemcova asked whether the campaign amounts to propaganda aimed at pouring “the wonder of multiculturalism in children’s heads”.