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06/12/2005

Magazine Roundup

Le point | Le Nouvel Observateur | L'Express | Outlook India | The Spectator | The Nation | La Rivista dei Libri | Reportajes | Die Weltwoche | Ozon | Magyar Narancs | The New York Times Magazine


Le Point, 01.12.2005 (France)

France is coming to blows over what Le Point last week called the "vague iconoclaste" or as the Nouvel Observateur calls them this week, the "neo-reactionaries". They are referring to intellectuals such as Alan Finkielkraut, Marcel Gauchet, Luc Ferry and various politicians and groups of activists whose comments on the riots in the banlieues and on Islam in France have turned the time-worn division of left and right on its head. The debate was essentially triggered by an interview with Alain Finkielkraut in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in November, in which he focused on the "ethnic and religious" nature of the riots, pinpointing the cause as a general "hatred of the west". After Le Monde printed extracts from the interview all hell broke loose in the media, and Finkielkraut was branded a racist. In an attempt to distance himself from incident, Finkielkraut subsequently gave two more interviews. This week in Le Point Elisabeth Levy summarises the reactions from his critics and advocates and goes on to defend him: Evidently many intellectuals are no longer capable of "distinguishing between criticism of a belief and criminalising any opinion that differs from the norm."


Le Nouvel Observateur, 01.12.2005 (France)

For the Nouvel Obs Finkielkraut and his cronies are just "neo-reacs". After decades of the "dominance of progress" these "intellectuals from the new Right" support a "shift" in the current mainstream and risk exacerbating the rifts within French society. In his introductory article Laurent Joffrin lists the theories and arguments of the group in full and states that "like the neo-cons in the USA, the neo-reacs are intellectual forerunners of a policy, which is significantly stronger than the Gaullist centrism of Chirac or Villepin."

Pascal Bruckner, on the other hand, writes that in some passages of the interview Finkielkraut may have overshot the mark, but he has nonetheless hit a nerve and prefers to express his views rather than kowtow to the dictates of political correctness, which "has been playing into the hands of the Front National for the last twenty years." Like Finkielkraut, Bruckner also doubts the youth revolts can be explained simply by the racism thesis: "I thought the world vision opposing an automatically guilty Europe to an innocent and untouchable South was done with. To hear today, in 2005, that France is experiencing a 'colonial fracture', that is, that it remains a colonial power in its own territory and occupies the banlieues like a foreign army, leaves one speechless."

Claude Askolovitch sees things differently, however. "The leaders of the Front National are now reading Finkielkraut, and bragging about it!"


L'Express, 05.12.2005 (France)

Star French journalist Pierre Pean, who attained celebrity when he uncovered the Vichy past of Francois Mitterrand, has written a book, "Noires fureurs, blancs menteurs", about the attack on Ruandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994, after which hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutus. Pean contests that the events amounted to genocide. He explains in an interview: "I have this to say: there were no death squadrons such as described by the witness Janvier Afrika, and as often alleged by the adherents of the 'official truth'." Pean is not convinced the mass killings were planned: "There were death lists on both sides. That's not what I call planning." Pean also contests that the French army bears part of the responsibility. "The French army cannot be accused of complicity in genocide. That's a despicable allegation. France's attitude was entirely respectable."


Outlook India, 12.12.2005 (India)

The nineteen year-old Indian tennis player Sania Mirza is a Muslim. Islamic clergy have passed a fatwa against her tennis outfits (examples here and here). She's a "national treasure" protests Vinod Mehta in his weekly column, and she should be left in peace. "Instead of interrogating Sania on her weak second serve or poor backhand, we quiz her on intricate theological matters. Soon, we will be asking her to pronounce on the Rushdie fatwa, or whether archangel Gabriel was a Muslim or Jewish saint, or if the Sharia permits divorces through sms. For god's sake, she plays tennis, she is not an imam at Deoband Islamic university."


The Spectator, 03.12.2005 (UK)

The Spectator is still preoccupied by Bush's alleged proposal to blow up the headquarters of the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera in the Qatari capital Doha. After talking to the "affable" managing director Wadah Khanfar, Richard Beeston has the impression that far from being a "rabble rouser of the Arab masses", the channel is increasingly becoming a stabilising element in the region. "Al-Jazeera is becoming richer, bigger and more a part of the establishment that it once loved to undermine."


The Nation, 19.12.2005 (USA)

Jeremy Scahill is full for praise Al-Jazeera, calling it a journalistic role model. "Al-Jazeera's real transgression during the 'war on terror' is a simple one: being there. While critical of the Bush Administration and US policy, it is not anti-American--it is independent. In fact, it has angered almost every Arab government at one point or another and has been kicked out of or sanctioned by many Arab countries. It holds the rare distinction of being shut down by both Saddam and the new US-backed government. It was the first Arab station to broadcast interviews with Israeli officials. It is hardly the Al-Qaida mouthpiece the administration has wanted us to believe it is. The real threat Al-Jazeera poses is in its unembedded journalism--precisely what is needed now to uncover the truth about the Bush-Blair meeting."


La Rivista dei Libri, 01.12.2005 (Italy)


In the Italian version of the New York Review of Books Sandro Barberas discusses two new books about the German philosopher Paul Ree. Both Hubert Treiber, who published Rees complete works, and Domenico Fazio, who has written a book on the philosopher, attempt to free Ree and his philosophy from the shadows of his friend Friedrich Nietzsche, who held Ree in high regard in his own arrogant way: "Ree was Nietzsche's preferred confidant, particularly once he had manoeuvred himself into a state of virtual isolation after breaking off contact with the Wagners." Nietzsche describes the relationship between the two in a letter to his mother Franziska in 1884: "You cannot imagine how agreeable Prof. Ree has been over the past years – faute de mieux (for want of better) naturally."


Reportajes, 04.12.2005 (Chile)


Moises Naim, the former director of the World Bank and current editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, portrays a rather sobering image of modern-day Latin America in an interview: "Latin America was always considered the backyard of the USA. But since the attacks on September 11th this backyard has turned into a new Atlantis, a lost continent. No one in Washington or on Wall Street is the slightest bit interested in Latin America. The problem with this part of the world is not globalisation, but that it is being consistently marginalised. Latin America is undergoing deglobalisation. What no one could have foreseen is that the most influential person in Latin America nowadays is not Bush but Fidel Castro.

In the same vein Alvaro Vargas Llosa (more) comments on the meteoric ascent of the Peruvian "national, populist" presidential candidate, Ollanta Humala, according to the latest surveys. Vargas Llosa's analysis couldn't be more sombre: "It may be too early to give a real prognosis for the elections. But one thing is certain: Peru is backing barbarity once again. Self-satisfied barbarity."


Die Weltwoche, 05.12.2005 (Switzerland)

In conversation with the Viennese physics professor Anton Zeilinger, Mathias Plüss attempts to find out why the human race will have to spend at least a thousand years carrying out more research before it can even beam a coffee cup. And Zeilinger is a world heavy weight in this arena. "Last year we managed to teleport light particles under the river Danube across a distance of 600 meters. The theoretical range is unlimited. I always say that when the Americans really start their Mars mission, the 280-day journey will be deadly boring for the astronauts. They might be interested in taking part in a few teleportation experiments on the way, and reduce their trip by a hundred million kilometres or so."


Ozon, 01.12.2005 (Poland)


Since the word has been out that Volker Schlöndorff is making a film based on the biography of the 'Solidarnosc' co-founder Anna Walentynowicz, increasing numbers of voices in the Polish press are warning about a false representation of Polish history. "Actually, it's more than we could ever have dreamed of – a world famous director is making a film about an icon of Polish opposition, which reminds the world that the fall of Communism began in Gdansk not Berlin," writes Wojciech Duda-Dudkiewicz. But it's not only Walentynowicz, who first heard about the project through the media, who is disappointed: "Riddled with clichees and ignorance about reality at the time, some claim. It's a pity that a film like this is not being made in Poland. Instead we are in the midst of controversy over the vision of a foreign film maker."


Magyar Narancs, 01.12.2005 (Hungary)


More European films should be shown in Europe, Claude Miller, chairman of Europa Cinemas, demands in an interview. "European film makers occasionally discuss why it is that around 80 percent of all films shown in Europe's cinema's come from the USA." It's up to politicians to solve the problem at a legal level. "It worked in Korea. Ten years ago, 95 percent of all the films shown there were from the USA. Today this figure cannot legally exceed 50 percent. Korean films suddenly became not only the most popular in their own country but in Japan and China too, and some Korean film makers have become internationally famous."


The New York Times Magazine, 04.12.2005 (USA)


Peter Schneider's article in the New York Times Magazine paints a grisly picture of the "honour killings" in Germany's parallel Muslim society from the perspective of Berlin. "There is a new wall rising in the city of Berlin. To cross this wall you have to go to the city's central and northern districts - to Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Wedding - and you will find yourself in a world unknown to the majority of Berliners. Until recently, most Berliners held to the illusion that living together with some 300,000 Muslim immigrants and children of immigrants was basically working."
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