From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 31.01.2009

"Religion seized power for the first time in centuries! A modern day unicum. I think the West has failed fully to grasp the ramifications of the event," says German-Iranian writer, Said, in conversation with Arno Widmann about the 30 years since the Iranian revolution, when Ayatolla Khomeni – with the sympathy of the Western left - toppled the Shah of Persia. Said sees no end in sight to the Mullah regime. "There are tendencies, sadly also fatal ones. Never has more alcohol been consumed, or more kids fallen into drug addiction. Nowhere in the Middle East are the mosques emptier than in Iran. This Islam, so vaunted as a panacea, cannot even get tomato prices under control. Those who came into power with their slogans against decadence and godlessness are now the reason why Islam is haemorrhaging believers. It is safe to say that Islam has never been more scorned in Iran than it is today."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 02.02.2009

British historian Ian Kershaw describes Stauffenberg's failed attempt on Hitler's life in refreshingly neutral terms, and he also remembers the failed assassination attempt by Georg Elser. "Elser single-handedly hid a bomb in the Munich beer hall where Hitler gave his annual speech in memory of the failed 1923 Nazi putsch. But the year was 1939 and Germany had just entered the war so Hitler kept his speech unexpectedly brief in order to get back to Berlin that evening. The bomb exploded minutes after Hitler left the beer hall, but had his speech been the normal length, he would have been torn into thousands of pieces."

Frankfurter Rundschau 03.02.2009

This week sees the publication of Najem Wali's book "Journey to the Heart of the Enemy" about his travels through Israel. In an interview the Iraqi writer explains that what fascinated him most about Israel was its multiculturalism. "Haifa managed to achieve a certain balance in daily life between Jews, Arabs, Templars and Druze. Later Russian Jews were added to the mix. I have always been fascinated by this sort of melting pot. Bilingualism has become a way of life. The youth talk Arabic and Hebrew. Haifa is the only Israeli city to have had a mayor of Arabic descent, who received equal numbers of votes from Jews and Arabs, and who has the respect of all religious communities. It would be naive to deny that conflict exists, and there is always a danger of its being fomented. But in Haifa they have found a very pragmatic way of living with it." Read our feature by Najem Wali about his journey.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Necla Kelek is unsparing in her criticism of Germany's ethnic Turkish politicians. "Not one politician of Turkish descent stands up and says: Yes, there are specific problems that should not be relativised. Why do they not talk about arranged marriage, holiday brides, honour killings, domestic violence, discrimination against women? Why does a social pedagogue like Cem Özdemir (co-chairman of the Green Party) prefer to only write ... about the Turkish middle classes, why does he so often sound like a press speaker in Ankara? Why does the SPD politician and Turkish-community lobbyist Kenad Kolat continue to repeat his mantra of more money for the Turks, and why does Lale Akgün want to get rid of the Islam Conference and the Integration Summit...? The answer is simple and bitter. These politicians of Turkish descent have been working for decades on stylising their clientele as victims and themselves as the defendants of these victims."

Die Welt 03.02.2009

In an interview with Rüdiger Sturm, director Michael Cimino explains why no one in Hollywood will give him any money to make any more films and why he has lost all interest in Hollywood fare: "The films are just copies of copies of copies – without a vestige of originality or vitality. I can't remember being swept off my feet by a single film in recent years. But about a year a go I was on the jury at the Dubai film festival and there I saw wonderful productions from the Middle East which put western cinema to shame. ... Last fall I was at the film festival in Seoul and I had a similar experience. But there I didn't just see fantastic films from Korea but also from Brasil and Serbia too. It's shocking how superior they are to Hollywood cinema. They don't dish up lazy tricks, stagnant dialogues, they are excellently filmed and fantastic acted. These films are full of life and they come from the heart – in the way Italian Neorealism did."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 04.02.2009

In the debate about the Pope's decision to rescind the excommunication of the renegade bishops, Holocaust-denier Williamson among them, Joachim Güntner notes that the ultra-traditional members of the Society of Saint Pius were actually able to present the Pope with a number of conditions for their return. He later writes: "Although his defenders will make the case for a more nuanced evaluation, the list of the scandals provoked by the Pope follows an unpalatable pattern: he snubbed the Muslims with a derogatory quote about their prophet, he shows contempt for the Protestants, he explains to the Brazilian Indios that their (violent) conversion to Christianity was an answer to their innermost wishes, and he alienates the Jews first with intercessory prayers that smack of missionisation, and then with an act of mercy towards anti-Semites."

Die Welt 06.02.2009

Tom Tykwer
's conspiracy thriller "The International" was an "excellent" opening for the Berlinale Film Festival, Hanns-Georg Rodek was pleased to report, and a shining illustration that glass architecture has little to do with transparency. "Wherever Clive Owen is taken on his crusade against corruption – from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof, to the Interpol HQ in Lyon, a bank in Luxembourg, the Pirelli tower in Milan – the architecture alone reveals how many layers there are between him and the truth. You could write a thesis on the role of architecture in 'The International'. But I will limit myself to noting how youthful and fresh Berlin looks against an aging and exhausted New York."

Die Tageszeitung

Cord Riechelmann wrests Charles Darwin from the clutches of the neoliberals. Vast income differences, he argues, have nothing to do with what god or nature intended, but are a man-made construct. "To this day, no one has desacralised Nature - and by extension human activity - more consistenly than Charles Darwin. He has convincingly denied any ideas of stability, progress, and the logic of target-setting as fundamental for natural processes. Instead he showed us how nature develops and changes. Permanently and ceaselessly, but she does not develop upwards and she does not swing in equilibrium. She does as she likes." - let's talk european