In recent years, there have been several articles dealing with the issue of Islamophobia in Eastern Europe (Lewicki 2018; Bobako 2018; Sayyid 2018). This article further explores the issue of Islamophobia in Eastern Europe, particularly on the Czech political scene during the 2015 migration crisis which the European Union (EU) had to deal with. The Czech Islamophobic movement emerged during this migration crisis and had a considerable impact on public debate, being viewed as a representative viewpoint of Czech society, most of which rejected the idea of accepting Muslim refugees (Slačálek, Svobodová 2018, 479–480). We explore Islamophobic expressions of main Czech political actors on Twitter social networking service. Our article utilizes the analytical framework of securitization theory. According to Arend Lijphart's typology of case studies, this article is an interpretative case study (Lijphart 1971, 691–2). Thierry Balzacq identifies four main methods that can be used for securitization analysis (either separately or in combination): discourse analysis, ethnographic research, process-tracing, and content analysis (Balzacq 2011, 31, 38). In our article, we apply securitization theory through content analyses of various relevant downloaded tweets. We then discuss what impact the results of our research have on the overall understanding of the Islamophobic discourse in the Czech Republic.
The securitization theory helps to find out what differentiates security and the process of securitization from a political one. To do that, strict criteria have to be met in order for threats to become security issues: they have to be staged as The authors of securitization theory also use terms extraordinary measures and extraordinary means (Buzan, Waever, de Wilde 1998, 21, 24).
The authors of securitization theory also use terms extraordinary measures and extraordinary means (Buzan, Waever, de Wilde 1998, 21, 24).
RQ1: What was mainly presented as an existential threat?
RQ2: What were the main referent objects of securitization?
RQ3: Which of the examined subjects of analysis were securitization actors on Twitter?
RQ4: Which of the subjects of our analysis significantly politicized the issue of migration?
For the purpose of our research, we have selected 66 Twitter accounts belonging to relevant Czech political actors, mostly politicians and political parties, and also the Islamophobic movement “We Don’t Want Islam in the Czech Republic” ( 1PavelSvoboda (Pavel Svoboda), AdamUsvit (Petr Adam), AndrejBabis (Andrej Babiš), buriansedlcany (Jiří Burian), CernochUsvit (Marek Černoch), CSSD (ČSSD, i.e. Czech Social Democratic Party), czKSCM (KSČM, i.e. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia), DanielDherman (Daniel Herman), DolejsJiri (Jiří Dolejš), EvzenTosenovsky (Evžen Tošenovský), hasek_michal (Michal Hašek), HnykovaUsvit (Jana Hnyková), HolikJSPD (Jaroslav Holík), honzabartosek (Jan Bartošek), charanzova (Dita Charanzová), ivcrn (IVČRN), JezekCZ (Petr Ježek), jhamacek (Jan Hamáček), jirivosecky (Jiří Vosecký), Kadnerusvit (David Kádner), kalousekm (Miroslav Kalousek), kducsl (KDU-ČSL, i.e. Christian and Democratic Union—Czechoslovak People’s Party), kolovratnikm (Martin Kolovratník), Konecna_K (Kateřina Konečná), KorunaCeska (Koruna Česká), LankRealiste (Martin Lank), LudekNie (Luděk Niedermayer), Ma_Novotny (Martin Novotný), market_a (Markéta Adamová), MartinPutna (Martin Putna), mased101 (Martin Sedlář), Mdlabajova (Martina Dlabajová), Mich-Kucera (Michal Kučera), Milan_Chovanec (Milan Chovanec), MJureka (Marian Jurečka), msojdrova (Michaela Šojdrová), ODScz (ODS, i.e. Civic Democratic Party), OlgaSehnalova (Olga Sehnalová), P_Fiala (Petr Fiala), PavelBelobradek (Pavel Bělobrádek), pavelpoc (Pavel Poc), PetrKudela1 (Petr Kudela), PetrMachMEP (Petr Mach), PiratskaStrana (Pirátská strana, i.e. Czech Pirate Party), PocheMEP (Miroslav Poche), Pospisil_Jiri (Jiří Pospíšil), PREZIDENTmluvci (Jiří Ovčáček), Radim-Fialacz (Radim Fiala), sněmovna (Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic), STANcz (STAN, i.e. Mayors and Independents), strakovka (Government of the Czech Republic), stropnickym (Martin Stropnický), svobodni (Svobodní, i.e. Freedomites), Telicka (Pavel Telička), tomio_cz (Tomio Okamura), TomZdechovsky (Tomáš Zdechovský), TOP09 (TOP 09), Vaclav_Hampl (Václav Hampl), VaclavLaska (Václav Láska), VaclavZemek (Václav Zemek), VeraJourova (Věra Jourová), ZahradilJan (Jan Zahradil), ZaoralekL (Lubomír Zaorálek), Zbynek_Stanjura (Zbyněk Stan-jura), zeleni_cz (Zelení, i.e. Green Party), zenisek_m (Marek Ženíšek). Islám (Islam), islamismus (Islamism), muslimové (Muslims), migranti (migrants), terorismus (terrorism), schengen (Schengen), invaze (invasion), civilizace (civilization), kultura (culture), džungle (jungle), v4 (V4, i.e. The Visegrad Group), visegrád (The Visegrad Group), Merkelová (Merkel, i.e. Angela Merkel), pegida (Pegida), afd (AfD, i.e. Alternative for Germany), ateismus (atheism), sekularismus (secularism), sekulární (secular), hodnoty (values), křesťanství (Christianity), peníze (money), neziskovky (NPOs, i.e. nonprofit organizations), soros (Soros, i.e. George Soros), sluníčkáři, arabové (Arabs), afričani (Africans), džihád (jihad), brusel (Brussels), eu (EU, i.e. European Union), rasa (race), novináři (journalists), média (media), šabatová (Šabatová, i.e. Anna Šabatová), šátky (scarves), konvička (Konvička, i.e. Martin Konvička), hampl (Hampl, i.e. Petr Hampl), ivčrn (IVČRN, i.e. We Don’t Want Islam in the Czech Republic), Okamura (Okamura, i.e. Tomio Okamura), bpi (BPI, i.e.), havel (Havel, i.e. Václav Havel), liberalismus (liberalism), liberální (liberal).
1PavelSvoboda (Pavel Svoboda), AdamUsvit (Petr Adam), AndrejBabis (Andrej Babiš), buriansedlcany (Jiří Burian), CernochUsvit (Marek Černoch), CSSD (ČSSD, i.e. Czech Social Democratic Party), czKSCM (KSČM, i.e. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia), DanielDherman (Daniel Herman), DolejsJiri (Jiří Dolejš), EvzenTosenovsky (Evžen Tošenovský), hasek_michal (Michal Hašek), HnykovaUsvit (Jana Hnyková), HolikJSPD (Jaroslav Holík), honzabartosek (Jan Bartošek), charanzova (Dita Charanzová), ivcrn (IVČRN), JezekCZ (Petr Ježek), jhamacek (Jan Hamáček), jirivosecky (Jiří Vosecký), Kadnerusvit (David Kádner), kalousekm (Miroslav Kalousek), kducsl (KDU-ČSL, i.e. Christian and Democratic Union—Czechoslovak People’s Party), kolovratnikm (Martin Kolovratník), Konecna_K (Kateřina Konečná), KorunaCeska (Koruna Česká), LankRealiste (Martin Lank), LudekNie (Luděk Niedermayer), Ma_Novotny (Martin Novotný), market_a (Markéta Adamová), MartinPutna (Martin Putna), mased101 (Martin Sedlář), Mdlabajova (Martina Dlabajová), Mich-Kucera (Michal Kučera), Milan_Chovanec (Milan Chovanec), MJureka (Marian Jurečka), msojdrova (Michaela Šojdrová), ODScz (ODS, i.e. Civic Democratic Party), OlgaSehnalova (Olga Sehnalová), P_Fiala (Petr Fiala), PavelBelobradek (Pavel Bělobrádek), pavelpoc (Pavel Poc), PetrKudela1 (Petr Kudela), PetrMachMEP (Petr Mach), PiratskaStrana (Pirátská strana, i.e. Czech Pirate Party), PocheMEP (Miroslav Poche), Pospisil_Jiri (Jiří Pospíšil), PREZIDENTmluvci (Jiří Ovčáček), Radim-Fialacz (Radim Fiala), sněmovna (Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic), STANcz (STAN, i.e. Mayors and Independents), strakovka (Government of the Czech Republic), stropnickym (Martin Stropnický), svobodni (Svobodní, i.e. Freedomites), Telicka (Pavel Telička), tomio_cz (Tomio Okamura), TomZdechovsky (Tomáš Zdechovský), TOP09 (TOP 09), Vaclav_Hampl (Václav Hampl), VaclavLaska (Václav Láska), VaclavZemek (Václav Zemek), VeraJourova (Věra Jourová), ZahradilJan (Jan Zahradil), ZaoralekL (Lubomír Zaorálek), Zbynek_Stanjura (Zbyněk Stan-jura), zeleni_cz (Zelení, i.e. Green Party), zenisek_m (Marek Ženíšek).
Islám (Islam), islamismus (Islamism), muslimové (Muslims), migranti (migrants), terorismus (terrorism), schengen (Schengen), invaze (invasion), civilizace (civilization), kultura (culture), džungle (jungle), v4 (V4, i.e. The Visegrad Group), visegrád (The Visegrad Group), Merkelová (Merkel, i.e. Angela Merkel), pegida (Pegida), afd (AfD, i.e. Alternative for Germany), ateismus (atheism), sekularismus (secularism), sekulární (secular), hodnoty (values), křesťanství (Christianity), peníze (money), neziskovky (NPOs, i.e. nonprofit organizations), soros (Soros, i.e. George Soros), sluníčkáři, arabové (Arabs), afričani (Africans), džihád (jihad), brusel (Brussels), eu (EU, i.e. European Union), rasa (race), novináři (journalists), média (media), šabatová (Šabatová, i.e. Anna Šabatová), šátky (scarves), konvička (Konvička, i.e. Martin Konvička), hampl (Hampl, i.e. Petr Hampl), ivčrn (IVČRN, i.e. We Don’t Want Islam in the Czech Republic), Okamura (Okamura, i.e. Tomio Okamura), bpi (BPI, i.e.), havel (Havel, i.e. Václav Havel), liberalismus (liberalism), liberální (liberal).
The highest amount of people arrived in Europe between April and December of 2015. The amount of arrivals dropped significantly from April 2016 (UNHCR 2020). On March 20, 2016, the EU-Turkey migration deal entered into force (BBC 2016). After that, the number of arriving people remained low. Because of the limited number of tweets that we could download, we decided to focus on the period between April and December of 2015. Works of other researchers, namely Miroslav Mareš and Přemysl Rosůlek, and also Islamophobia Report 2015, helped us to determine relevant political actors for our analysis and offered the opportunity to compare our results with other research about Islamophobia in Czech political discourse during the migration crisis (Mareš 2015; Rosůlek 2017; Dizdarevič 2015, 115–130).
Multiple studies were focusing on Islamophobia in the Czech Republic, but not all of them were embedded in a theoretical framework (Rosůlek 2017, 22). Among the exceptions are works of Strapáčová and Hloušek, who dealt with the way the Czech extremist politicians used to frame the issues related to Muslim migration, Slačálek and Svobodová, studying the ideology of the Czech Islamophobic movement, and Vendula Prokůpková, who examines the mobilization waves of the Czech anti-Islam movement. They utilize various theories for their works (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018; Slačálek, Svobodová 2018; Prokůpková 2019). For other Eastern European countries, see, for example, the study from Monika Bobako, who explores diversity of anti-Muslim discourses in Poland (2018). For other examples of securitization of migrants in Slovakia, see works of Androvičová, and Žúborová and Borárosová (Androvičová 2015; Žúborová, Borárosová 2017). For securitization of migration in Eastern Europe see Lalić, Ćeranić 2019 (Lalić, Ćeranić 2019).
For other Eastern European countries, see, for example, the study from Monika Bobako, who explores diversity of anti-Muslim discourses in Poland (2018).
For other examples of securitization of migrants in Slovakia, see works of Androvičová, and Žúborová and Borárosová (Androvičová 2015; Žúborová, Borárosová 2017). For securitization of migration in Eastern Europe see Lalić, Ćeranić 2019 (Lalić, Ćeranić 2019).
Securitization is created intersubjectively and can be studied directly, without the need for indicators—by studying discourse and political constellations. The securitizing discourse is not successful securitization; yet, it is only a securitizing move. The audience has to accept it for us to be able to call it successful. Thus, analysts must understand the process of constructing a shared understanding of threat. The process of securitization is what in language theory is called a speech act (the utterance itself) (Buzan, Waever, de Wilde 1998, 23–6). Any public issue can be located at spectrum ranging from nonpoliticized (it is not part of public debate and does not require the attention of the state), politicized (it is part of public debate and requires allocation of state resources) and securitized (Ibid, 23–4). Securitization may include a number of practices, not only speech, but also changes in mainstream policies or bureaucracies (Cesari 2012, 433). Matt McDonald also points out that a
Tkaczyk, in his analysis of coverage of the migration crisis in Czech online media, codes as politicization problems such as administrative issues, protests, and demonstrations, to which the recommended solutions are relocation quotas, policy changes, or integration programs. Any problem, which is more serious (criminality, security risk) and recommended solution, which is beyond otherwise binding rules (border controls, deployment of military forces, etc.) is coded as securitization (Tkaczyk 2017, 104). Every speech act has its facilitating conditions, among them contextual and social. It is necessary to hold the position from which the act can be made and to follow the security form and construct a plot that includes existential threat, a point of no return, and a possible way out. Particular “dialects” of the different sectors have to be added (such as talking identity in the societal sector). The securitizing actor has to be in a position of (not necessarily official) authority and the threat has to be actually held as threatening (tanks on borders, for instance) (Buzan, Waever, de Wilde 1998, 31–3).
Migration is seen by 63% of Czech people as one of the main problems of the EU. The second biggest one is terrorism (47%) (ČTK 2017). Hence, we assume that the threat of migration can be held as threatening. Regarding the distinction between securitization and politicization, we proceed in a same way as Tkaczyk and if we do not see a threat in tweet as existentially threatening and/or the actor asking for extraordinary measures, we code it as politicization. There are some threats that are threatening, but not existentially, for example threat of increased spending of money. We code neither these nor mere mentioning of the keyword as politicization. We exclude tweets like 3941 when the Czech Social Democratic Party (
Almost all of the IVCRN tweets are at least loosely connected with Islam or migration, but only some are “political” or have any political message connected to the migration crisis. These were coded as politicization or securitization, respectively. The rest of them (for example, tweets about Muslims and dogs) were not coded either as politicization or securitization—they may be anecdotal, spread hate (and in many cases they do), but are rather apolitical and not clearly connected with security. Furthermore, lots of the IVCRN tweets have links to the deleted Facebook page of IVCRN, IVCRN’s main Facebook page was deleted in 2016 due to spread of hate content (Šlerka, Fiala 2018, 237).
IVCRN’s main Facebook page was deleted in 2016 due to spread of hate content (Šlerka, Fiala 2018, 237).
According to Thierry Balzacq, securitization is a sustained strategic (pragmatic) practice, which is part of a configuration of circumstances—context, psycho-cultural disposition of audience, and the power the speaker and listener bring to the interaction, in which the securitizing actor uses discursive techniques to persuade the audience. Such techniques include the use of metaphors, emotions, stereotypes, gestures, silence, and lies (Balzacq 2005, 172–3). The context of the whole migration crisis helps us to understand which tweets to be coded as securitization or politicization. Tweets are in many cases really short and only by putting them into the context of other tweets and comments to the original tweet, as well as the context of the situation in which they were written, we can understand what the message was. Regarding the context, it is also worth noting that during the 2015 migration crisis, three main Czech online media outlets politicized the crisis and, referring to possibilities of Islamization and terrorism, presented it to a great extent as a security threat (Tkaczyk 2017, 91, 107). Two main television broadcasters also stressed mainly security and administrative aspects of the crisis in their TV news (Tkaczyk, Pospěch, Macek 2015, 6). In fact, there was a blatant dehumanization of refugees in Czechia during the migration crisis (Bruneau, Kteily, Laustsen 2017). Works of other authors also provide a context for us, as we can better understand positions of various political actors by comparing our results with the findings of other scholars.
The possibility for successful securitization will also vary dramatically with the position held by the actor (Buzan, Waever, de Wilde 1998, 31). Media agenda of two main Czech TV news relied heavily on the expressions of political representatives (Tkaczyk, Pospěch, Macek 2015, 6). These are the reasons for choosing to focus on elected politicians and relevant political parties, as they are the ones who hold the positions of authority, and on Islamophobic movement, IVCRN, which was, as mentioned above, viewed as representing the majority opinion in Czech society.
In the content analysis, the meaning of the text is fixed and if coded well, it can be extracted and replicated by other researchers. Differences in research results of various analysts then show that there may be a problem in the analysis. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods can be applied in content analysis. A qualitative research method can be used if the investigator looks for the presence or absence of securitization
Referent objects in societal sector of security will be large-scale collective identities that can operate independently of the state, for example religion or nation (Buzan, Waever, de Wilde 1998, 22–3). Threats to identity are threatening some “we” and also contribute to the construction and reproduction of “us” (Ibid, 119–120). This “we” has to be threatened on its identity (Ibid, 123). Thus, if we can see threats based on identity, we can assume that societal reasons, not economic or political, are in play. Regarding security policies made in defense of religion, faith (religion) is a particularly strong referent object and therefore easily securitized because it is Cosmic war is an idea of a great encounter between cosmic forces of ultimate good and evil, divine truth and falsehood. It grants sacred legitimacy to worldly causes (Laustsen, Waever 2000, 724).
Cosmic war is an idea of a great encounter between cosmic forces of ultimate good and evil, divine truth and falsehood. It grants sacred legitimacy to worldly causes (Laustsen, Waever 2000, 724).
According to Ayhan Kaya, the issue of the illegal migration has been picked up by Western political elite and state administrations as the source of problems such as unemployment, violence, terror, and other social and cultural troubles. This then shapes public perception of migrants. Illegal immigration is presented as external force, rooted in regional disorder, from which the EU can protect Europe's inhabitants. There is no mentioning of complex colonial and post-colonial histories in this discourse. Kaya also states that anti-illegal migration activity implies discourses of identity, inclusion, and exclusion. Illegal migrants and refugees are all the same and presented in a negative way (Kaya 2009, 9–10). Indeed, even in the Czech Republic, this is the case, as Islamophobia seems to be a product of peoples’ perception of international events (like the so-called War on Terrorism), rather than a product of everyday interaction with largely integrated Czech Muslims (Černý 2017, 399). States utilize discourse of
Securitization of Islam specifically involves actors who consider Islam as an existential threat to European and secular norms and, therefore, justify extraordinary measures to control and contain it. Historically, “Homo Islamicus” is the typical other of Western modernity. Anti-Islamic discourse is then the most obvious feature of securitization of Islam, ranging from portraying Islam as a danger to Christian society to associations of Islam with terrorism. We can also see other trends, for example, distinction between “good” and “bad” Islam, as well as a rise of Muslims criticizing their own communities (Cesari 2012, 433–6).
We conducted a content analysis of the sum of all tweets. We were looking for existential threats ( RQ1: What was mainly presented as an existential threat?
RQ1: What was mainly presented as an existential threat?
Things most often presented as existential threats were (see Table 1): Muslims (11), Islam (11), migration (6), terrorism (6), ISIL (4), invasion of Muslims (4), migrants (4), Islamic migrants (2), Muslim terrorists (1). All other existential threats were mentioned only once or twice. They ranged from criminality to diseases.
RQ2: What were the main referent objects of securitization?
The main referent objects of securitization were (see Table 2): security (21), Europe (9), freedom (9), EU (7), and democracy (5).
RQ3: Which of the examined subjects of analysis were securitization actors on Twitter?
IVCRN (29), Jiří Dolejš (10), Pavel Svoboda (7), Radim Fiala (6), Marek Černoch (3), Tomio Okamura (2), Marian Jurečka (2), Jaroslav Holík (1), KDU-ČSL (1), Kateřina Konečná (1),
RQ4: Which of the subjects of our analysis significantly politicized the issue of migration?
IVCRN (44), Petr Ježek (34), Jiří Dolejš (22), Tomáš Zdechovský (16), Jiří Pospíšil (15), Pavel Telička (14), Pavel Bělobrádek (12), ODS (12), the government (12), Pavel Svoboda (10), Lubomír Zaorálek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (7), and the Party of Free Citizens (6) (see Table 4). Regarding the main political parties and politicians who held positions of power and authority, and institutions, the results were as follows (some of them were mentioned above, shown again for comparison):
The government (12), ODS (12, as well as 1 securitizing move), Lubomír Zaorálek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (7), Party of Free Citizens (6), ANO (6), ČSSD (4), KSČM (4), The President (4), Milan Chovanec, the Minister of Interior (4), Věra Jourová, The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (4), KDU-ČSL (1, as well as 1 securitizing move), The Chamber of Deputies (1), STAN (1), Pirates party (0), Green Party (0), and TOP 09 (0).
Regarding the first RQ, we see a high number of mentions of Muslims, Islam, terrorism, migration, and migrants as threats. Thus, we can say that Islam and Muslims were presented as a threat. The answer to the second RQ is more surprising. We do not see culture or identity being primarily endangered. What is mainly endangered is the security of people. Europe, which may be understood as identity reference (and in many securitizing tweets it was presented in this way), is present in the second place. Other most endangered things are freedom, EU, and democracy, which are rather political objects, although it is debatable if the EU is a substitute for Europe and understood in an identitarian way and whether freedom is a political entity or expression of identity. The tweets did not constitute a clear view on the matter.
Answering the third and fourth RQs properly, we have to discuss the securitizing moves further, as some of the politicians securitized the issue of migration, yet raised their voices against populists and extremists at the same time. The same goes for politicization. This section is structured by parties, beginning with the government parties and continuing with the strongest opposition ones. All relevant Twitter accounts for a particular party are discussed in the same paragraph (official Twitter account, accounts of members of the Parliament (MPs) and European Parliament (MEPs)).
Regarding the main government party, the Czech Social Democratic Party (
An MEP Petr Ježek (ANO/ALDE) significantly politicized the issue of migration, but only to raise the issue on agenda. His politicization was not a populist one. Pavel Telička (ANO/ALDE) politicized the issue of migration too. Dita Charanzová, on the other hand, did not securitize or politicize the issue (we found only one politicization in her tweets). Martin Stropnický politicized the issue, but the number of relevant tweets downloaded from him was not significant enough to draw any conclusions. We found in our analysis that ANO was one of the parties that rather politicized the issue of migration, however not significantly.
As for the last party of the coalition, Czech Christian Democratic Party—
Communist politician Jiří Dolejš (Communist Party of Czechia and Moravia, PEGIDA is right-wing populist street movement (Dostal 2015, 523).
PEGIDA is right-wing populist street movement (Dostal 2015, 523).
The members of the TOP09 Party usually stood against populists or tweeted too little about the topic to draw conclusions from their tweets. One exception is Jiří Pospíšil (TOP09/EPP), who was clearly against accepting refugees. At one occasion, he even securitized the refugee quotas as an existential threat. This lies in striking contrast with the rest of his party.
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) on its official Twitter account not only politicized but also securitized the issue of migration when it presented refugees as an existential threat to EU borders. However, we did not find any significant securitization or politicization from its members on Twitter. On the Twitter account of Petr Fiala, the leader of Civic Democrats, we did not find any significant politicization or securitization.
Three populist politicians from the Dawn of Direct Democracy (
The analysis of hashtags helps us to put our findings into context with the rest of the political topics that played an important role during the examined period. We have three tables with 10 and 20 most frequently used hashtags. We have separated the Czech hashtags (used in Czech language tweets only) from the rest of the hashtags (see Table 5, purple), and then put all hashtags together (Table 6, blue). Both tables show us that the issue of migration was not the most important one for the accounts’ owners included in our analysis. Out of 20 most frequently used hashtags (non-Czech tweets included, Table 7), EU was the most common one (248 tweets), followed by TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, 231) and EET (Electronic evidence of sales, 121); immigration was on the 7th place (75), migration was 10th (59), and V4—which we see as loosely related to the topic of migration—was 20th (42). See attached document “Islamophobia_30_nej”.
See attached document “Islamophobia_30_nej”.
As indicated in the theoretical part, it is important to put our findings into a broader context, to fully understand them and draw conclusions from them. This section does just that and follows suit with the previous one, beginning by discussing government parties and continuing with opposition.
Milan Chovanec, as a Minister of Interior, received the biggest amount of space in TV news of two main television broadcasters. There, we were able to see framing of the migration crisis in security terms (Tkaczyk, Pospěch, Macek 2015, 6). This securitization was not reflected on Chovanec's Twitter though. The Social Democrats were the only party with elected Muslim representative, senator Hassan Mezian, who defended Islam and rejected the idea that it is a violent religion (Kopecký 2015a). The Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies from ČSSD, Jan Hamáček, publicly strongly rejected Islamophobia and stressed that Islam has an irreplaceable role in human society (Fendrych 2015). On the other hand, the regional council president from Southern Moravia region Michal Hašek from ČSSD was criticized for using the migration crisis for scoring easy points among voters by saying, for example, that the reality is that the Czechs do not want Islam in Czechia (Šimáček 2015b). Strapáčová and Hloušek found that there was a diversity of opinions on the migration crisis in the party. The partly exercised “soft” securitization of the migration crisis while at the same time it stressed the humanitarian aspect of the situation and the need to fight fascism and racism (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018, 12–13). We have, on the contrary, found more politicization than securitization.
Regarding ANO party, Petr Ježek, outside of Twitter, expressed firm will to defend European values, especially freedom of speech, but at the same time he pointed out to the fact that debate in European Parliament regarding Islamic terrorism is not about Islam, but rather about terrorists and freedom of speech. The reason is that western European states are already accustomed to Muslims living there and thus there is no debate about whether Islam should be part of western societies—it already is (Denková 2015). Pavel Telička strongly raised his voice against populists. In one of the articles on his webpage, he stressed the need to combat illegal migration, but at the same time to fight xenophobia (Telička 2015). Looking back at 2015, we see that the leader of ANO, Andrej Babiš, was against the mandatory refugee resettlement quotas, but expressed an opinion that refugees could be accepted and work at those jobs that the Czechs do not want to work at (Houska 2015). On the other hand, a more coherent analysis conducted by Strapáčová and Hloušek found out that ANO was primarily securitizing the issue of migration, mentioning humanitarian aspects in a very incoherent manner. Migration is presented as an attack and migrants as a danger to European culture and civilization (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018, 13–14). Here, we see the difference between MEPs messaging and that of Andrej Babiš, and also the limitations of the analysis of Twitter.
When we look at KDU, we can clearly see in some of Pavel Svoboda's texts published online, that he did not go as far as populists in criticizing Muslims in context of terrorism or migration, yet, he clearly expressed a preference for Christian values and determination to defend them (Svoboda 2015a; Svoboda 2015b). Bělobrádek (KDU) more clearly expressed his opinions, for example, in an interview in 2016, where he distanced himself from populists, but also expressed refusal to accept Islamic Europe (Martinek 2016). Mochťak, in his analysis of KDU-ČSL during the 2015 refugee crisis, finds such an approach as well. The party was, in the light of the migration crisis, slowly moving from positions of tolerance to a more critical stance toward migrants and Islam, rejecting multiculturalism and pushing for integration of foreigners into the system of European values. The party members were also more critical about Islam as a religion, which is in fundamental contradiction with Christianity (Mareš 2015, 154).
Leader of the communist party, Vojtěch Filip, criticized the EU for not doing enough to stop the migration crisis (Janouch 2015). He also called on Muslims to stand against terrorism and show the world “the true face of Islam” (ČTK 2015). Strapáčová and Hloušek find in their analysis that Czech communists implemented two main approaches toward the migration crisis: (1) securitization operationalized through strict border control and international engagement to settle the conflicts in the countries of origin of migrants, and (2) humanitarian approach with a strong emphasis on the Geneva Conventions and other humanitarian law, which should be the main basis on which to deal with refugees (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018, 15–16).
Jiří Pospíšil from TOP09 voted against the refugee quotas in European Parliament, while the rest of the TOP09 MEPs voted for accepting the quotas (Gregor 2015). The position of this party can be summarized by words of one of its then MPs Helena Langšádlová, who emphasized that it is against European values to judge people based on their religion, but that it would be wrong to close eyes in the face of long-standing migration problem in Europe (TOP09 2015). Strapáčová and Hloušek found that the party originally used very liberal rhetoric in comparison with other parties, yet was forced by the decline of its support among voters to use more of security rhetoric and “civilizationist” discourse. Despite that, the party still voiced the legal and human obligations that have to be fulfilled while dealing with refugees (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018, 17–18).
The migration crisis resulted in an internal dispute in ODS, which was solved in April 2016 (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018, 16). Petr Fiala in 2015 visited the Hungarian border where the Hungarian government built a fence against migrants and warned against “not-manageable onrush of refugees” (Šimáček 2015a). Jana Černochová, an ODS MP, was present in the demonstration organized by IVCRN, a move not seen entirely positively in ODS, but also an act which was not criticized by the party in any significant way (Kopecký 2015b). Senator from ODS Tomáš Grulich expressed more nuanced opinions about migration, emphasizing security and the possibility to accept refugees and migrants from Balkans and Eastern Europe (Grulich 2015). Mochťak in his analysis found that ODS saw migration as a security threat and it saw Islamist radicalism as connected to cultural and religious aspects of Islam, which was often framed as a threat or at least a source of distrust (Mareš 2015, 158). This did not manifest significantly on Twitter accounts of different members of the party, but the official Twitter account of ODS supports Mochťak's finding.
From January 2015 to early spring of the same year, members of the Dawn party regularly and actively participated in rallies organized by IVCRN (Prokůpková 2019, 65). Yet, Marek Černoch was very vocal against Tomio Okamura's article that called for pestering of Muslims by, for example, walking of pigs around mosques. Černoch stated that the issue at hand is too serious to be treated like this and that the party should refrain from such articles. On the other hand, the party, along with Černoch, expressed the view that the article plays down the possible threat of Islamism in Czechia (Čermáková, Bartošová 2015). Dawn party after some time split into two political parties, with Okamura leading the Freedom and Direct Democracy party (
These information show the limits of analysis of Twitter and the need to complement the analysis by other data, which may give us a completely different picture of reality—pure counting of securitizing or politicizing moves is not enough to describe the reality. There is a strong need to understand the context and to complement our research with supplementary materials.
Based on our research we can conclude that Islam and Muslims were presented as existential threats and thus securitized. The issue of migration was also hugely politicized by various political actors. The primary referent object was security. Identitarian referent object—Europe—was in the second place. It is difficult to say if the rest of the referent objects can be understood as identitarian or as political, but the results nevertheless seem to support Karel Černý's description of Islamophobic discourse in Czechia (clear association of threats with Islam, danger to security, endangered Europe, and threatened freedom). Because our referent objects include keywords such as freedom or democracy, but no mentions of nation, people, or state, we conclude that the data support findings of Slačálek and Svobodová, who, contrary to Brubaker, describe Czech populism as more similar to the Western and Northern European one. Repression of foreigners may be only a way of how political elites reassure certain segments of electorate about their security with concrete measures (Kaya 2009, 10). Yet, because Černý's work shows similarities between contemporary Czech Islamophobia and anti-Semitism before the Holocaust, our findings give even more urgency to the need to combat Islamophobia in Czechia.
The main securitizing actor on Czech Twitter during the 2015 migration crisis was IVCRN. The most prevalent referent object on the IVCRN Twitter account was security. Yet, we can say that many tweets from IVCRN are in line with what Kaya describes as “stigmatization of Islam” (Kaya 2009, 4–5). In response to unwillingness of elites to fulfill its demands, the movement itself evolved from a purely anti-Islamic to a broader populist movement during the 2015 migration crisis, attempting to transform its identity to one that would represent more people and become not only anti-Muslim but also anti-elite (Prokůpková 2019, 66). Based on Šlerka's and Fiala's findings of representation of IVCRN on Facebook, we know that the populist movement is the intersection of many different interests of various groups angry about the state of Czech society. The fulfillment of their demands regarding Islam would probably result only in the regrouping of the groups (Šlerka, Fiala 2018, 247). Thus we recommend more research about this movement to be done to determine the sources of its members’ discontent.
Other significant securitizing actors were the Dawn party members. This is supported by the research of Strapáčová and Hloušek, who also find that far-right parties are using securitization more than others. President Zeman is described in their research as more populist than mainstream parties, so is ANO (Strapáčová, Hloušek 2018, 24–5). We did not find any significant politicization from President's speaker account or ANO. Another securitizing and politicizing actor was also Christian democrat Pavel Svoboda, who, on the other hand, distanced himself from radicals and populists. The same goes for other Christian democrats, as they stood against radicals, yet expressed concerns about Islam and Muslims and politicized the issue of migration significantly. Next politicizing actor was Jiří Pospíšil, who politicized (and once even securitized) more than the rest of his party members. We also find that the research on Twitter needs to be supplemented by other data drawn from public expressions of politicians and official party documents, otherwise it cannot give the researcher a full picture of reality, as seen in our analysis of members of ODS, ANO, and KSČM. It is important to mention communist politician Jiří Dolejš, who was very vocal against right-wing radicals on Twitter, yet politicized the issue quite a lot. The analysis of most frequently used hashtags then shows us that migration was not the main topic on Twitter accounts of Czech politicians. This is due to MEPs’ nature of tweeting much more than others about their daily agenda, which included different issues than migration. Apart from IVCRN and Dawn party members, it is difficult to speak about Islamophobia on Czech Twitter as other political parties and politicians rather politicized the issue of migration. We have also rarely seen any mentions of complex historical and political problems in connection with the migration crisis; only Vojtěch Filip from the Communist Party argued in this manner, and he has done so outside of Twitter. Thus we can say that the Czech Republic resembled Western European Islamophobic discourses. But we haven’t seen any trend of a dichotomy between good and bad Muslims. Yet, similarly to Western Europe, Islam was associated with danger and presented as a threat.