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19/01/2007

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 19.01.2007

Niklas Maak has had a look at at Jörg Immendorff's official portrait of ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The portrait, executed by the ailing artist with the help of assistants (see our features on Immendorff here and here), has Schröder looking gold-plated: "Never has a chancellor's portrait looked so emperor-like, so Bismarckian, and immensely powerful as in Immendorff's Schröder. Schröder issued in new policies and new images, the portrait announces, showing not the man but the icon, the iron media chancellor, the ruler transformed as image. Yet the picture has some peculiar elements and an unparalleled iconographic programme, as if Schröder's chancellorship needed explaning. A horde of monkeys cavort round his shoulders. Immendorff says he painted them as an homage to the chancellor, who 'did a lot for artists.'"

The paper also reports on the arrival of the "Burkini". Invented in Australia by 43-year old Aheda Zanetti so that Muslim women could go swimming without coming out of the water and feeling like they had "ten tonnes of bricks on their backs. (...) The two-piece swimming costume comes in various shades of red, blue and grey. The more risque models are multi-coloured with pale blue and pink cuffs. The less daring can opt for the sleek black variation which even has the approval of the Australian Head Mufti Tadj Din al-Hilali."


Die Tageszeitung 19.01.2007

A high-level delegation from Uzbekistan is visiting Berlin for the first time since the Andijan massacre, when President Islom Karimov had troops open fire on civilians. Uzbek civil rights activist Bachtior Chamrajew denies that the current government plays a role in stemming Islamic terror in Central Asia: "Karimov's regime brought about the current situation in the first place. He needs the Islamic threat as a scapegoat to justify his power. But the corruption and hopelessness in Uzbekistan are what make the radicals' promises of salvation attractive for young people. In my experience, and bearing in mind Uzbek history, radical Islam has no chance here. If we had the chance to live and work normally without daily repression - which also effects the peasants in the countryside - there could be no talk of a danger from radical Islam."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 19.01.2007

On the media page, S.B. introduces the two pioneers who want to revolutionise TV. They are the 40-year-old Swede Niklas Zennström and his 30-year-old business partner Janus Friis. In 2001, the pair founded the controversial P2P file sharing exchange Kazaa, before going on to start the Internet telephony network Skype. Skype was sold to Ebay for 2.6 billion euros. Their latest project, "Joost" offers downloads - unlike YouTube – not of amateur videos and illegal copies but professionally produced and legally licensed films. These films can be consumed individually in exchange for payment on subscription or gratis with adverting. They may then be watched whenever the viewer wants to watch them."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 19.01.2007

Berlin-based Iraqi writer Najem Wali describes the sorry state of the Arab Writers' Union. At the last AGM the Iraqi arm was once again not invited, due to suspicions of its having connections to "the Zionist enemy" through the occypying forces. Democracy is also not held in particularly high esteem, Wali laments. "One could compile a long list of names of intellectuals who are or were incarcerated in Arab countries. In Saudi-Arabia the poet Ali al-Damini has been sitting in prison with a number of his fellows for years. In Syria, where the union has had its headquarters for 27 years, countless intellectuals have been vegetating in the jails of the Baath dictatorship. The poet Faradsch Birqadar was locked up 15 years ago (recently his book describing his experiences in prison was published in Beirut). The Syrian thinkers Michel Kilo and Arif Dalila have been behind bars for a year now. In not one of these cases has the Arab Writers' Union published a statement or demanded that the men be freed."

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