Czechs mark 26 years of freedom and democracy
People around the country marked the 26th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution amid heightened security on Tuesday. Overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in Paris and the migrant crisis in Europe the anniversary of the country’s return to democracy and European values took on new meaning in light of present day attitudes to migrants.
Laying a wreath at Prague’s Národní Trída, where the communist police brutally cracked down on a student demonstration 26 years ago, the prime minister warned against abusing the liberties acquired.
“We should enjoy the right of freedom of speech which we did not have 26 years ago, but we must refrain from abusing it to spread hatred and xenophobia, to spread views that lead to the suppression of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Twenty-six years after the country re-embraced democracy there are calls from all sides for the country to defend democracy and European values. However there is little agreement on how this should be done. While some say the way forward is through openness and tolerance others say Europe must close its doors to the threat of Islam in order to preserve its values and identity. A poll indicating that 69 percent of Czechs are now wary of foreigners and consider many of them to be a problem suggests that Vaclav Havel’s spiritual legacy is under considerable strain.