Security step-up in Prague's Jewish quarter


In light of the bombings of two synagogues in Istanbul last week, the Czech authorities have announced an increase in security in Prague's historic Jewish quarter.

Prague's historic Jewish quarterPrague's historic Jewish quarter Since the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the Jewish Community in Prague has been responsible for its own security measures. However, due to post September 11th security crackdowns throughout the United States and Europe, the Czech Ministry of Interior, the state police department and the municipality have also taken measures to tighten security at Jewish sites in the Czech Republic. Tomas Jelinek, a leading representative of the Jewish Community of Prague.

"Since September 11th, 2001, we decided that we really have to strengthen the situation and we approached official authorities and asked them to impliment the European type security measures nearby the Jewish facilities in Prague - because the Czech Republic is a member of NATO, it will become a member of the EU, it supported the operation in Iraq and so on and so on - So if something can happen in Paris, or in Marseilles or in Istanbul it could also happen in Prague."

With Jewish landmarks being frequently the target of attacks around the world, security measures in the Czech Republic have been increasing by increments. Policemen were deployed around Jewish facilities in Prague during the war in Iraq, while the recent car bombs in Istanbul led to the latest security measures.

Prague's historic Jewish quarterPrague's historic Jewish quarter The mayor of Prague Pavel Bem said on Wednesday that security cameras and large flower pots to block traffic were being installed in the Jewish quarter, while three other Jewish sights in the city will also see tightened security.

I asked Mr. Jelinek of the Prague Jewish Community about the general reaction to such increased security measures.

"There are different approaches from our members because most of our members are people who survived the Second World War. They are already people who can really take pressure so generally it's taken as a necessary part of their daily life. But most of the members understand the purpose of security and aside from our members the people who live nearby our facilities come out and say that it is very important that this protection is here. It is also about the protection of people who live nearby our facilities because we know what happened in Instanbul that most of the people who were killed were not people who were related to the Jewish community but the neighbors or the pedestrians who were just walking along the street."

Prague's historic Jewish Quarter harbors one of Europe's oldest Jewish cemeteries, a number of historic synagogues, and maintains to be a popular tourist attraction.