Prague - Czech President Milos Zeman should not be uselessly demonised over his statements on Islam, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said in a press release today.
Sobotka also dismissed the idea that Saudi Arabia might impose sanctions on the Czech Republic.
He stressed that the Czech policy towards the Islamic world was balanced, being based on cooperation with both Israel and Arab countries.
Sobotka said Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) would inform Arab diplomats at their meeting planned for Tuesday to this effect.
Czech ambassador to Riyad Jiri Slavik was summoned to the Saudi Foreign Ministry on Sunday to hear a complaint about Zeman's anti-Muslim statements, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.
Commenting on a recent attack in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Zeman said in late May that Islamic ideology was behind similarly motivated violent attacks.
"One of the articles of the Hamas movements says: 'Kill every Jew you see.' Do we really want to pretend that this is just an extreme?" LN quotes Zeman as saying.
"Do we really want to be politically correct and say that everyone is good and only a small part of extremists and fundamentalists commit these crimes?" he added.
Sobotka has confirmed the news that Slavik was summoned to the Saudi embassy.
He said Slavik "explained to the Saudi partners that the Czech foreign policy towards the Middle East and Islamic world was balanced, being based, among others, on religious tolerance and long-standing tradition of cooperation."
"However, it is not true that Saudi Arabia is threatening us with any sanctions. Zeman's statement should not be uselessly demonised and exaggerated," Sobotka said.
"Next Tuesday, Zaoralek will meet the ambassadors of Arab countries and inform them about the Czech Republic's balanced position to the Middle East," Sobotka said.
"The Czech Republic has traditionally friendly relations both with Israel and Arab countries, which is our diplomatic foundation on which we would like to build even in the future," Sobotka said.
Earlier this month, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) denounced Zeman's statement and asked him to apologise, which he has refused to do.