Press Review

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The Czech papers are all still reeling from the tragic events in the United States. The front pages of all today's papers carry large colour photos of the World Trade Center ablaze and enshrouded in a cloud of smoke. Accompanying the image are descriptive articles reporting the devastation in both New York City and Washington.

LIDOVE NOVINY's front page carries eyewitness descriptions of the devastation - two of their staff members witnessed the blasts first hand. One describes the twin towers, a symbol of American economic power, as they were engulfed in gigantic clouds of dark smoke, reminding her of Hollywood special effects. Minutes later she watched the skyscraper crash to the ground. Her colleague in Washington describes the confusion outside the Pentagon as hundreds of peoples tried to flee the building. Injured people running from black smoke, most confused and in shock only knowing that a plane had crashed into the building.

MLADA FRONTA DNES goes out into the streets to report on Czech reactions to the shocking news. Live images and radio reports from the scene shocked and scared the Czech public and by the afternoon the newspaper offices of MLADA FRONTA DNES were inundated with phone calls from people wanting to know more about the situation in New York. News appeared to have traveled fast, many people heard the story over the radio as it broke. Car radios, televisions in bars and word of mouth carried the news as reports reached the Czech Republic. Many Czechs stopped outside electronics shops to stare with shock and disbelief at the images of havoc in New York. The paper quotes 33-year-old Simona Souckova from the Moravian town of Ostrava, who recently returned from the States, who like many people fears that a war could break out.

"The wonders of modern technology have brought us an apocalypse," writes Pavel Verner in PRAVO. We saw a war being waged against the civilian population of a democratic country and how vulnerable the country was to such an attack.

One of the drawbacks of a democratic system is that even terrorists enjoy greater freedom of movement, says HOSPODARSKE NOVINY. The fact that democracies value human life very highly makes them ideal targets of fundamentalists for whom human life has no value at all. While the democratic world watched in horror and despair, Islamic fundamentalists celebrated what they saw as a triumph.

The terrorist attacks against civilians have taken the world many years back, writes LIDOVE NOVINY. Those who are responsible for the attack must be hunted down and punished. In this case President Bush has the backing not only of his people but of the entire civilized world.

This was not just an attack against the United States - it was an attack against Western values, says PRAVO. It was an attack against the community of nations which have embraced those values, including the Czech Republic. An attack on Czech targets cannot be ruled out, the paper says, asking "are we ready for it?" .

The paper reminds readers how many times Czech MPs have argued in favour of cutting back on defense spending on the grounds that there was no potential threat against the Czech Republic. In one nightmarish day those politicians have been given an answer. We have all woken up, the paper says.

It is not enough to console ourselves with the fact that some of these potentially dangerous states allegedly have no weapons of mass destruction. It is all too evident how easily and how cheaply they can acquire weapons that are equally potent.