Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In the footsteps of The Amerika

Here we go…

Yesterday I read in the Czech news that Prague had been on a heightened state of alert since early Saturday morning due to an unspecified terrorist threat. Whatever - I hadn’t noticed anything at the airport on Sunday.

Today I read in the Czech news: Terorista chtěl napadnout Londýn letadlem uneseným z Prahy – Terrorist wanted to attack London with a plane hijacked from Prague.

Apparently, back in 2002, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (of 9/11 fame) planned an attack on London’s Heathrow airport using a Czech Airlines plane. This information comes from the autobiography of Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan.

Or actually, as the article says further down, KSM wanted to use any passenger plane from any of the airports in Czech, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Romania or Malta. The reason? Laxer security. No shit.

Thus far, those of us east of London, and especially when on a flight heading yet farther east, still enjoy the feel of metal cutlery when we are served a delicious airline meal. I don’t know anyone who has been forced to insert his contact lenses at the airport in Prague so that he can dump out the three drops of solution in the lens case, or anyone who has been forced to drink her own breast milk.

At the airport in Bucharest on Sunday, the walk-through metal detector was set at a high enough sensitivity to catch the under-wire in my bra. The female security checker did not have one of those wand thingies to wave through my aura, so I instead got a good old-fashioned frisking, which I quite enjoyed. But I digress.

One night last week in the hotel bar in Sighişoara, Tan and I ended up talking to some other tourists. There was a couple from North Carolina who were pretty adventurous travellers and had been a lot of places. But Ellen was explaining that she would never travel to a Muslim country, not even to someplace like Montenegro or Albania. She was practically pleading with me, as the only other American in the bar, to understand why she was afraid. I told her that I did understand, but that I also recognised that she was a victim of the fear-mongering that goes on in The Amerika. Her husband absolutely agreed with me, in the manner of vigorously nodding his head at me (although safely out of his wife’s field of vision).

Is that where the Czechs are headed? Towards everyone being brainwashed into fear? I don’t think so. The news says that we currently have tougher security measures in place - cameras and police checks, etc, but Czechs don’t scare easily. After having been under both Nazi and Soviet occupations, it’s going to take a lot more than ‘an unspecified threat’ to ruffle Czech feathers.

And then there are the comments of Jiří Langer, the Czech counter-intelligence chief, which pretty much sum up the Czech attitude to terrorism:

“When there is a bomb attack at a seaside resort, other foreigners do not visit the location for some time. On the contrary, Czechs go to this particular site because the prices of the stays fall.”

Take that, evil terrorists!

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