14-09-2001

The terrorist attacks against the United States, rescue efforts in Washington and New York and speculation regarding the possibility of retaliatory action against Afghanistan fill the front pages of today's papers. There are snapshots of some of the victims of this tragedy as well as snapshots of the first suspects arrested by the FBI.

"America must take punitive action" says Mlada Fronta Dnes. Terrorist organizations need to be shown that such atrocities will not be tolerated. However the decision President Bush now faces is an extremely difficult one. For can a whole nation really be made to pay for the actions of a terrorist group?

For the past three days the Czech papers have run unedited letters sent to them by people who feel the need to express their fear, sorrow and anger over what happened. "God save America. God never meant this to happen" one of them says. People express fear of a global conflict or terrorist actions in Europe and once again the papers reassure readers that everything possible has been done in view of the country's security interests.

Pravo says that despite offers of help pouring in from around the world it appears that what the United States values most in its hour of need is moral support and prayers. The paper notes that it is now certain that Czech rescue teams with sniffer dogs will not be called upon to help the rescue effort nor have the States requested blood and blood plasma from the Czech authorities.

Still, many Czechs have felt the need to donate blood just in case and it is obvious that all over Europe people wish to do something to alleviate the suffering of the American people. For instance German multimillionaire Kim Schmitz has offered a ten million dollar award for any information that might lead to the perpetrators.

Condolence books have appeared in Churches as well as the US embassy in Prague and people who are not Prague residents have found their own way of paying their respects to the victims of this tragedy. Memorial stones or plaques linked to America have been turned into little shrines where people lay flowers and light candles. In the west Bohemian town of Pilsen they head for the memorial stone which reads "Thank You America for liberating us from Nazi oppression".

Hospodarske Noviny predicts that the US war with terrorists will be long and hard. The US is determined to win it and in addition to that determination and its considerable resources it has another big advantage, the paper says. The shock of this tragedy has led to the formation of a broad opposition to international terrorism. China, Russia and Europe are ready to join America in this decisive battle.

Few people are thinking far ahead, but Hospodarske Noviny poses an interesting question. The World Trade Centre was a symbol of American financial power. Will it be re-built or is the threat of possible terrorist attack too great? Although most Americans can't bear to think about it at present , New York's mayor Rudolf Gulianni has said he is determined to re-build the twin towers.

14-09-2001