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Press echos on the "Islam in Europe" debate

Who should the West support: moderate Islamists like Tariq Ramadan, or Islamic dissidents like Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Are the rights of the group higher than those of the individual? With a fiery polemic against Ian Buruma's "Murder in Amsterdam" and Timothy Garton Ash's review of this book in the New York Review of Books, Pascal Bruckner has kindled an international debate. By now Ian Buruma, Timothy Garton Ash, Necla Kelek, Paul Cliteur, Lars Gustafsson, Stuart Sim, Ulrike Ackermann, Bassam Tibi, Haleh Gorashi and Adam Krzeminski have all stepped into the ring. Newspapers and magazines have reported on the debate across Europe:

Print media

Dagbladet Information (Copenhagen)
The daily gave detailed coverage of the debate on January 26 and February 15, 2007, each time with a lengthy two-page article. Many readers used the Internet comments function to continue the discussion:
Niels Ivar Larsen: Antiracisternes racisme
Niels Ivar Larsen: Kan Vesten rumme islam?

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
The Australian paper published a commentary on the debate on the debate on January 27, 2007. Unfortunately no longer online.

The online service of the biggest Hungarian newspaper gave in-depth coverage on January 29 and February 12, 2007, presenting the positions of the antagonists.
more here and here

Trouw (Amsterdam)
The Dutch paper reported on the debate on February 3, 2007, printing Pascal Bruckner's article in the 'Letter & Geest' section.

Corriere della Sera (Milan)
The paper dedicated a page to the debate on February 3, 2007, with an in-depth report by Stefano Montefiori.

Il Velino (Rome)
The Roman press agency for business and finance news covered the story on February 6.

Il Foglio (Rome)
Giulio Meotti reported on the debate on February 8, 2007. Read the text online here, and as pdf published by the paper here.

De Volkskrant (Amsterdam)
Michael Zeeman wrote a lengthy article in the largest Dutch newspaper on February 12, 2007, expressing regret that the debate only takes place in the Internet, and not in the printed newspapers.

Expressen (Stockholm)
On February 12 the Swedish paper published an introductory article on the debates, printing in the following days the articles by Bruckner (here), Ash (here), Buruma (here) and Necla Kelek (here).

Die Zeit (Hamburg)
In the February 15 edition, Thomas Assheuer picked up on the "thrilling debate" (unfortunately not online): "In the field of theory, multiculturalism was the attempt to undo the Gordian knot of how a society must be constituted which respects the rights of cultural minorities and at the same time protects its own civil liberties. Put another way: how does society treat people who interpret these liberties as an attack on their religion? That is the question of questions. Perhaps, two hundred years after Voltaire, a second major dispute will arise in Europe on the relationship between reason, democracy and religion under the heading: multiculturalism."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Zürich)
Heribert Seifert emphasised the utopian quality of the conflict on February 16: "One of the canonical ideas of the Enlightenment was that of a universal public space to which all intelligent humans could have access at any time or place. The Internet cultural platform Perlentaucher shows that this utopian idea is entirely realisable today."

Jyllands-Posten (Viby bei Arhus)
The largest Danish daily, which published the 12 Muhammad cartoons in September 2005, covered the debate on February 16, 2007.

Opinio (Amsterdam)
Also on Februay 16, the Dutch weekly summed up the debate in a two-page article.

Vrij Nederland (Amsterdam)
The Dutch paper printed a commentary on the debate.

Frankfurter Rundschau
Arno Widmann informs readers about the debate on February 17, 2007. The paper also prints the contribution by Lars Gustafsson.

Bergens Tidende (Bergen)
On February 18, 2007, Havard Simensen writes a lengthy background piece in the Norwegian daily.

Le Monde (Paris)
The paper printed the essay by Pascal Bruckner on February 19, 2007, and the response by Ian Buruma on February 28, 2007.

Washington Post (Washington)
Anne Applebaum wrote an op-ed on the debate on February 27, 2007, setting it in context of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's career and European reception.

The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Berlin has become "the centre of one of Europe's great intellectual debates" since launched Pascal Bruckner's article, wrote Doug Sanders on March 10, 2007: "That provoked a furious response last month from some of the most prominent thinkers in France and Germany, in a high-calibre debate taking place on the Berlin media website The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner denounced Mr. Buruma, accusing him of 'capitulation' to Muslim extremism. The German writer Ulrike Ackermann compared the debate to the one that took place in the 1980s over communism, when some Western intellectuals suggested a middle-ground compromise between communism and democracy. He likened the ex-Muslim groups to those East European dissidents who brought down the Berlin Wall, and Mr. Buruma and his colleagues to those who dismissed them."


3sat, "kulturzeit"
The programme reported on the debate, interviewing Pascal Bruckner and Timothy Garton Ash. Broadcast February 19, 2007.


Wolfgang Stenke explained the debate in the programme "Tageszeichung", moderated by Silvia Wiegand. Broadcast February 5, 2007, between 7:45 and 8:00 pm.

Deutschlandradio Kultur
Interview with Thierry Chervel, broadcast February 19, 2007.
"Your site has developed from summarising content published in other papers to publishing your own opinion pieces. Since the end of January, journalists and academics are debating on the pages of Perlentaucher to what extent Western society is challenged by the Islam, as some immigrants understand and propagate it."

In the programme "Druck & Blog," Oliver Rehlinger talked with Lebanese Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban about the controversy. Broadcast: February 24, 2007, 1:45 - 2:00 pm. Text here, MP3 here.


Vox Publica (Bergen)
Thierry Chervel wrote in the Norwegian magazine: "Bruckner decided to publish his polemic in English on before it appeared anywhere in French, and it worked: Ian Buruma did not mince words in his response. Garton Ash also fired back on, and other authors have had their say as well, for example Necla Kelek, a Turkish-German author who comes down on Bruckner's side. It's a bitter row – and yet it's good news: Europe exists. As a public space, and not just as history that never happens."

Arts and Letters Daily
"It’s not enough that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has had to live as a recluse, in fear of having her throat slit. Now she is ridiculed by idealists and armchair philosophers..."

Further online media

Political Theory Daily Review

The Common Room


Tao of Defiance

Tinkerty Tonk

Spot on


Abstract Nonsense

Candide's Notebooks - let's talk european