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GoetheInstitute

08/07/2005

German coverage of the London bombings

In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Brigitte Spitz praises the heads of government for not letting the bombing put an end to the G8 talks. "'We are all Londoners now', said Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, shortly after the attacks yesterday. This was an expression of solidarity not only for the victims in London but also for the sense of vulnerability we all feel now. This is why it was right to continue with the summit in Scotland. It may not be more than symbolic. But on this day it was important not to send out another image of insecurity into the world."

"Why do so many Muslims get a kick from the defeats and weaknesses of the Western, wealthy, predominantly Christian world?" asks Stefan Kornelius in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "Because they have a profound feeling of inferiority, of disadvantage, of worthlessness. And yet they feel no sense of outrage towards the suicide bomb attacks against their Muslim brothers in Irak either. The dead do not trigger emotions, they are not suitable as a symbol for new dignity and hope ... The G8 globalisation club was served a reminder this Thursday that it has huge political duties to fulfil. Until now the eight and their allies lacked a unified voice on anti-terror policy. The experience at Gleneagles has hopefully taught them a lesson."

The terrorists are not interested in a better world, writes Arno Widmann in the Berliner Zeitung. "The London bombers - aside from those who might have died in the act, are sitting down right now - on Thursday afternoon - to watch their bleeding victims on TV, to gloat over men and women crying into the microphone. What they are doing is not about making the world a better place, or Islamic theocracy, or the re-establishment of the Caliph. They are doing it for a moment of power. The horror to which they are exposing us is not a means to an end. It is an end in itself."

In Die Welt, Roger Köppel does not believe the bombs are meant to "punish the English 'Crusader government', to castigate it for participating in the Irak and Afghan wars. The Islamists' actions are not motivated by world politics. They are pursuing a century-long eschatology of destruction, one that distinguishes between the orthodox on the one hand and subhuman beings on the other: deniers of Allah's truths who are not fit to live, who must be converted, subjected or killed."

In the tageszeitung, Christian Semler calls for people to hold tightly to their will for a pluralistic society: "A city like London is a laboratory for the future. Not the City of Westminster, but the diverse, dynamic and creative 'Greater London', with its formidable unresolved ethnic and other problems. This uncertain promise of a peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions is what bundles the hatred of terrorists. It would be wrong to see the terrorists' choice of 'soft targets' as only a tactical ploy, a sort of evasion manoeuvre in the 'asymmetrical war.' The central aim of those who attack the 'soft' target of a major city is the battle against the metropolitan Moloch, with its impure racial mixtures and its threat to cultural identity."

Josef Joffe comments in Die Zeit on the difficult balance between security and freedom, writing that the democracies fighting terror today must circumcise liberties to preserve freedom: "For very understandable reasons, we are ready to swap freedom for security. So we wait patiently at security checks at airports, we accept biometric ID, we rubber stamp 'security packages' that give the state unprecedented powers to watch, listen and record information about us. This is not the 'evil', but the good, provident state, and we voluntarily give it our assent. Yet freedom is not served, even if we freely don these fetters. A tough paradox: we pay with our freedom to protect our freedom."

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Michael Hanfeld and Stefan Niggemeier react with anger and indignation at the unprofessional commentary on German television. "On N24, one analyst stumbled through his commentary on the uncertainty of stock market developments, saying: 'It will certainly be one of the most exciting days here, and I hope not one of the saddest.' Increasingly on days like this you wish German TV channels would simply limit themselves to engaging a couple of very good interpreters and translating the coverage of CNN, BBC World or ITV." The FAZ does make one exception: Phoenix.

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