Vietnamese Community to Build Prague’s First Buddhist Temple

September 1, 2008

Author: Rob Cameron

Source: Radio Prague,7058,0,0,1,0

According to a report in Monday’s edition of Právo newspaper, Prague’s Vietnamese community plans to build a Buddhist temple in the suburb of Písnice, home to many Vietnamese.

The temple would be the country’s second: the first opened earlier this year in Varnsdorf, North Bohemia.

Marcel Winter is the head of the Czech-Vietnamese Society:

“In Vietnam, around 70 percent of the population are Buddhist. But in the Czech Republic, the figure is actually much higher: It is estimated that around 90 percent of Vietnamese living here are Buddhist. Whenever one visits a Vietnamese family, the best room in the house – the one for receiving guests – always has a small shrine. It usually consists of a statue of the Buddha Shiva, who brings prosperity, and incense, which they always burn on holidays. So there’s a great hunger for Buddhism among Vietnamese in the Czech Republic, because it provides a link to their mother country.”

Because relations between Vietnamese and Czechs are more or less problem free, Marcel Winter does not expect the temple – which will be built on privately-owned land and financed by the community – to arouse much, if any hostility. That’s a marked contrast to the furore surrounding attempts to build a mosque in Brno – the small Muslim community was eventually forced to abandon plans to include a minaret. So what explains the sharply different attitudes to Buddhism and Islam – two negligible, almost invisible religions in this country - among Czechs?