From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 15.06.2009

In an interview with Andreas Breitenstein, Chinese author Yu Hua, whose epic novel "Brothers" comes out in German in August, talks about how "sensitivities" in China have changed since 1989. "You shouldn't forget that the freedom-loving students of the 80s had all lived through the catastrophes of the Cultural Revolution. They knew what a life of poverty meant, and they recognised that the lack of freedom in which they were forced to live was the reason for this poverty. Today's student generation has grown up in a boom era. They have no idea about poverty, and they delight in absolute personal freedom... China is a strange country. On one hand we are still living under the dictatorship of a party that can control everything with administrative measures. On the other, we are much more free than the West. We can bad-mouth anybody or anything to our heart's content and with impunity. You just can't criticise the government."

Die Welt 16.06.2009

The German Iranian poet, Said, cannot accept that Moussavi is being sold as a reformer in the Western media. "The man was prime minster in the 1980's, the worst years. He knew about the arrests, murders and mass executions. I feel sorry for these young people who are once again pinning all their hopes on bringing about democratic change in Iran. The question now is, how often can you fool the people?"

Berliner Zeitung 17.06.2009

Jörg Michel welcomes the fact that over 130,000 people in Germany have signed the petition against the law, adopted today in German Bundestag, which allows the government to block access to offensive Internet sites. The government initiative was spearheaded by the CDU family minister, Ursula von der Leyden, on the back of wholly founded claims, that the move will prevent the spread of child pornography. "The law may only be effective for three years initially but the damn burst has happened. The government now has a censorship infrastructure in place which can be extended at any time. The potential hitlist is long. Why not ban violent films or other supposedly objectionable material? Politicians have long been discussing other potential uses for the system. Often in hushed voices, but they are getting louder all the time. The education minister Annette Schavan, for example, has her sights set on violent sites. The government of Hessen wants gambling sites blocked. For the CDU politician Thomas Stroble, it's shooter games. At some stage it will be the turn of undesirable opinions."

Frankfurter Rundschau

In an interview with Peter Michalzik stage director Calixto Bieito reveals the source of his inspiration: "I am a Spanish mix. The Jesuits who raised me and exposed me to the world of Bunuel. I was able to see all his films there. At the same time they beat me and tried to sexually abuse me. That was normal in those days and I certainly wasn't the only one. Today it's an ongoing scandal in the news, in those day it was normal. It is the Catholic world."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Exiled Iranian legal scholar Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari explains why the alleged electoral rigging in Iran is not only a breach of the constitution but also of basic Islamic law. "Individuals who have been granted a mandate by society are obliged to fulfil the criteria of justice. ... If the results of the election are false or imprecise, the votes of the majority of the population are disregarded and the president elect is no more that the product of an election coup, then it must be recognised that the elections constitute a violation of republican principles – and also a deliberate breach of the Islamic principles of sharia."

Die Welt 18.06.2009

Mariam Lau, a German journalist and daughter of the Iranian dissident Bahram Nirumand, asks what Hussein Moussavi stands for: "The Azerbaijani has often explained that he would disempower the moral police, abolish – legally at least - the suppression of women, push forward the privatisation of TV in the name of a free flow of information. He talks about putting an end to an economy based on handouts and subsidies. It makes Moussavi nervous that oil-rich Iran has to import energy and failed to profit from last year's soaring oil prices. He recognises and condemns the Holocaust. As for the nuclear programme, he is not looking for 'radical solutions', whatever that means. But he sees it as Iran's national right. As for the 'Great Satan' , Moussavi is prepared to talk but only if 'He' is serious."

Jungle World 19.06.2009

Pirate Bay has changed its name to Persian Bay and has transformed itsself into a support forum for the Iranian opposition.

In an interview with Daniel Steinmaier, Christian Engström, the first Euro MP for the Swedish Pirate Party, calls for copyright to be cut to five years in total (down from the current period of 70 years after the death of the holder): "Copyright is there to allow investors to invest in something, by creating the legal groundwork for the expectation that they will see returns on their money. But no investor in the world reckons with a payback period of 120 years! No one thinks, ok, well I won't be earning anything with my intellectual endeavors for the first 100 years but they'll start to pay off after that. ... The main argument against the current regulation is that the lion's share of 20th century culture cannot be used and distributed as it would be illegal to do so. Because either these cultural treasures are owned by a handful of large corporations, or no one knows who the rights belong to."

Frankfurter Rundschau 19.06.2009

The prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is going this year to Italian author Claudio Magris. "At long last", Arno Widmann cries, because it was this author from Trieste who opened our eyes to Europe as a whole. "Magris's books ("Danube", "Microcosms") tear the protective layers from our bodies. They make us sensitive. Sensitive not only to the elegance of a broad-sweeping clause, for the rhythms of dialogue, for the shaming gaps in the restrictive narrowness of our knowledge and focus, but also for the diversity and variety of others. In four words: Claudi Magris's prose disarms."

Die Tageszeitung 19.06.2009

German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf died today at the age of 80. Jan Feddersen writes: "Dahrendorf was the first intellectual star of the fledging Bundesrepulik to seek and find acknowledgement abroad. He also studied in USA, received his first PhD in 1952 for a dissertation on the concept of justice in the writings of Karl Marx. In 1957 he obtained his 'habilitation' - recognition of the right to lecture in German universities - with the publication of 'Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society'. Jürgen Habermas, who celebrated his 80th birthday last week, and had been an admirer of Dahrendorf's since that time, as he admitted at Dahrendorf's birthday celebrations a few weeks ago, said: "With his constructive intellect that preferred to create clarity with idealised stylisations than to juggle with hermeneutics, Dahrendorg was remarkable for his powerful eloquence, his natural command of authority and his somewhat angular manner of speech. What singled him out from his peers was his ability to see off received ideas with avant-gardist aplomb." - let's talk european