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GoetheInstitute

21/12/2005

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.

Die Zeit, 21.12.2005

The theatre director Benjamin Korn, who lives in Paris, launches into a two-page attack on the great nation of naysayers – France - which even the cooks are leaving in the meantime. "French politics since WWII and the collapse of the colonial empire has had a huge problem with the perception of reality, or to put an exact date on it, since the unforgettable August 25 of 1944 when de Gaulle marched into Paris four days before the allies and informed the French that they, the old superpower, had won the war heroically after all... The denial of defeat was a psychological catastrophe for France and the consequences of this denial can still be felt today. They are condensed in the 'sinistrose', that all-pervading mood of catastrophe which weighs so heavily on France and which cannot be sufficiently explained by listing all the social problems which are shared by other European counties."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.12.2005


Asfa-Wossen Asserate, an Ethiopian prince who has mostly lived in Germany since 1974 and who rose to fame a few years ago with his book "Manieren" (manners), reports after a trip to his homeland on scenes reminiscent of civil war. The regime under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is refusing to recognise its election loss and is bloodily annihilating all resistance. And the West is lending support because it sees Ethiopia as a bastion against terrorism. This is an error in Asserate's opinion: "Western governments should know that the fragmentation of Ethiopia could destablise the entire region around the Horn of Africa. They don't only need to have a serious talk with Zenawi, they need to ensure that the vast subsidies for the Ethiopian state budget are made dependent on civilised and democratic behaviour." Asserate's suggestion: "A catastrophe like the one in Somalia can only be avoided by a rapid forming of an interim government of national unity."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 21.12.2005


Voltaire's play "Mahomet" still packs a good punch, as Sabine Haupt reports. In 1742 the play had to be taken off the bill because the Catholic church ruled it critical of religious fervour. In 1993 and 1994 a reading of the play in Geneva was prevented by protests from the Muslim community. And now a reading to accompany G.E. Lessing's "Nathan the Wise" in Geneva has been met with a new storm of protest from "representatives of several Muslim associations, among them the spokesman and Imam of the Geneva mosque, Hafid Ouardiri. For Ouardiri the play, in which the prophet Mohammed is shown as an intriguing despot who represents religious fanaticism as a whole, is an insult to Islam. 'We accept freedom of opinion, but we demand respect.' Ouardiri announced that leaflets would be distributed in front of the theatre." This time, however, Geneva's authorities did not relent and the reading went ahead.


Die Tageszeitung, 21.12.2005

German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, who was taken hostage in Iraq at the end of November, was released on Sunday. After being set free, Osthoff made it clear she will remain in Iraq, despite expectations that once freed she would leave the country. Klaus Hillenbrand congratulates her for steering clear of the "media soap bubble", and analyses the reactions at home. "Just what is behind all the demands for 'our' Susanne O. to come home? In any case, Osthoff is not indebted to the Germans for their solidarity. The rallies held for her at home were pitifully, I would even say shamefully small. From the looks of it this lack of warmth on the part of the Germans cannot be put down to an absence of national pride, but rather to Osthoff's person. A divorced Muslim whose child is at boarding school and who puts herself in danger by helping people in the war zone. You can hear voices asking: does someone like that really deserve the help of the German people?"


Frankfurter Rundschau, 21.12.2005

Elke Buhr presents "The Iraqi Equation", a show put together by the curator and ex-director of the documenta contemporary art exhibtion Catherine David for the Kunst-Werke gallery in Berlin. "The exhibition is not really concerned with presenting artworks per se. Rather, the idea is to create an experience, to connect things, and to set out in search of a culture whose contours are not adequately defined by CNN's cameras. However the variables and calculations involved in the Iraqi Equation are not easy to grasp, evidently not only for the average misinformed European. For opinions are divided as to whether the precarious Iraqi reconstruction will leave us with a plus or a minus."

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