Sadakat Kadri at the LRB:
Czechoslovakia would have been a hundred years old last Sunday, and Prague spent the weekend celebrating. I’ve been to better birthday parties. The gloomy weather didn’t help – it didn’t just rain on the parades, it poured – and the centennial narratives, never simple, were complicated further by the fact they were commemorating a state that dissolved itself in 1993.
Liberals, libertarians, conservatives and Islamophobes were out in force all weekend, and President Miloš Zeman isn’t the kind of leader who brings different sides together: his cantankerous state-of-the-nation address on Sunday night concluded by warning Czechs that there were ‘rabid and envious dwarfs’ in their midst.
The event I spent most time at was probably the smallest. Under leaden skies, as fighter jets roared invisibly overhead, about a hundred members of the Czech Republic’s Romani minority gathered beneath umbrellas outside Prague Castle. The slogan on their banners was as plaintive as they were angry. ‘We work like everybody else,’ it said.