Press Review

The top stories in all the Czech papers today deal with international developments, as they have for the past month.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY carries a front page headline stating that one of the terrorists involved in the attacks on the United States, Mohamed Atta might have visited Prague as a businessman. The transcription of Arab names is always problematic and it is easy for them to change their names when moving to a different country.

An investigation is underway into the possibility that Atta, who went under the name of Muhammad Sayed in the United States, may also have traveled under the name Mohamed Sayed Ahmed, who used to do business in Prague and hasn't been heard of here for over a year. The secret services are investigating, whether several secret terrorist meetings were held in Prague, and whether some of those contacts may still exist.

PRAVO examines camps for asylum seekers in the Czech Republic and states that the international situation and the Taliban's call for Muslims around the world to launch attacks has not caused any tension, either inside the camps, or between the people in the camps and the Czech population around them. About a hundred people a day cross the Czech border illegally, but half of these merely want to cross the country on their way further West.

Today's PRAZSKE SLOVO quotes Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik as saying that the Czech Republic is prepared for any possible threat of biological warfare and that the situation is improving every day. The paper asked some of the pharmaceutical companies represented in the Czech Republic whether vaccines against anthrax were available and received a negative answer. It also quotes Health Ministry spokesman Ota Cerny, who says that there are no plans to introduce production of such vaccines.

On a related topic, the paper also reports that the first group of 16 doctors have attended a 5-day course in field medicine and a number of emergency first aid courses for medics have already been held.

On its front page, LIDOVE NOVINY discusses a completely different kind of interest aroused by the events of the past month. Czechs are showing an unprecedented interest in reading the Koran. Copies of the book have sold out throughout the country and all the copies in libraries have been borrowed. The Koran has been published by a number of Czech publishers over the past 30 years and it seemed that the Czech market was saturated, since only experts and students of Arab culture were interested. But now people want to learn more about Muslim culture and there is a similar demand for all books dealing with it. "That's a good thing, it proves that people want to know more than they get in the news. They really want to understand", the paper quotes one researcher at Charles University's Institute of Middle East Studies.

Author: Olga Szantová
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