First Buddhist temple in Czech Republic

Prague Monitor, January 24, 2008

Prague, Czech Republic -- The first Buddhist temple in the Czech Republic has been opened in Varnsdorf, north Bohemia, on the initiative of the local Vietnamese community, the daily Pravo wrote Wednesday.

The local Vietnamese have even had gold-plated statues and a Buddhist monk transported from Taiwan, the paper writes.

"It is a big event for us because Buddhism is not only a religion but also a part of our culture," the Vietnamese initiator, who has lived in the Czech Republic for 15 years, told the paper.

He added he had not noticed any negative reaction from local Czech residents.

The ceremonial opening of the temple last week was attended by the Vietnamese ambassador to the Czech Republic and local government representatives, Pravo notes.

"I do not mind the Buddhist temple in our town. On the contrary, I consider it interesting," Varnsdorf mayor Josef Polacek told the paper.

He added the temple can even enrich Czech citizens because it is open to everybody.

Over 2000 Vietnamese live in the Sluknov region in north Bohemia, 400 of them in Varnsdorf alone.