From the Feuilletons


German responses to the Mohammed cartoons controversy

Writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the Mohammed cartoons controversy (see our feature "The twelve caricatures of Mohammed" for more), Rudolf Chimelli demands polite treatment of Muslim culture: "We've already seen in our papers various depictions of grim, bearded terrorists, lusty smiling oil sheiks, dumb mullahs. One hope that such pictures have meaning and comic, they are, in and of themselves, harmless. But by a sensitive minority, they will be used for purposes of cheap propaganda."

Stephan Speicher, writing in the Berliner Zeitung, finds that the caricatures in question are not worth all the hot air: "even unshakable rights can be used wrongly. And that is the case with these much-discussed cartoons. They are no clever objections to the irrational, no Voltairian critique, even though France Soir would like to portray them as such. They are – and this applies in particular to Mohammed with a bomb in his turban - evidence of a xenophobia which is now wondering why those offended are so offended."

In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, "ras" accuses the paper Jyllands-Posten of using the "mediocre" Mohammed caricatures to create a "provocation for provocation's sake." And worse, "for months, the newspaper refused to apologise for having insulted religious feelings, thus creating the basis for a full political exploitation of the affair."

In the Tagesspiegel, one voice to the contrary: Ali S., a Muslim German student of Iranian origin. "While we Muslims are constantly demanding equality of rights and accusing the West of applying double standards, we ourselves are turning into fascists who want special rights here, there and everywhere. If caricatures of the Christian prophet Jesus are possible in Europe, then they should also be allowed for the prophet Mohammed. Why should we we granted special treatment: is our blood redder than the others'?" (The author asked hist full name not to be published in the internet.)

Reactions to a declaration attacking critics of forced marriage

Necla Kelek has attracted widespread attention in Germany for her book "Die fremde Braut" (the foreign bride) and statements criticising the practice of forced marriage in the Turkish community and the fact that it is widely tolerated here. In an open letter published yesterday in the weekly paper Die Zeit, 60 migration researchers criticise Kelek and other authors for insufficient seriousness.

Regina Mönch comes to their defence in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "If this were not such a bitterly serious issue, you could put this attack down to professional envy. But there's more to it than that. As with the case of the Berlin school that imposed the use of German in the Herbert Hoover School yard (see "In Today's Feuilletons" from yesterday and January 27), what's at stake here is power and influence, what's at stake is the dominant interpretation of how immigrants want to live, what they think and believe, and how we should view them. Those who signed this declaration are fulminating against these women's literature because it's successful, and because it is are attracting the type of notice they feel really belongs to them."

Necla Kelek answers the charges in an interview with Cathrin Kahlweit in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "What have these migration researchers actually done with their funding and their cushy jobs in all these years? And what have they failed to notice, so that many problems weren't recognised? Incidentally, the thesis that a marriage market was a result of the German policy of sealing itself off from immigration totally ignores that this marked also exists in Turkey... These researchers are turning a blind eye to the real problems. And those who have looked away for too long share responsibility for the sufferings of these children."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 03.02.2006

Rainer Hermann reports on the state of freedom of speech in Turkey. At the moment, several dozen trials are going on. "They're all wind in the sails of those who are demanding a change of mentality in preparation for Turkey's entry into the EU. The Turkish justice system is itself on trial. Even Turks see it as an obstacle to the implementation of reforms. The Secretary General of Turkey's National Security Council, Yigit Alpogan, recently demanded urgent further training of Turkish judges and state prosecutors. The Minister of Justice Cicek disapproves of all this public attention. He wants to bring the justice system onto course with internal measures, such as the most recent waivers. Soon, it will be possible to judge how seriously the judges and state prosecutors take such measures from the outcomes of the ongoing trials."

Die Welt, 03.02.2006

Western media
are superficial and often unaware of what they're doing. And Turkish media are nationalistic and aggressive, sighs Turkish author Elif Shafak, who illustrates her comments with the following story: "Last week the Italian paper Corriere della Sera published a list of the 'world's oppressed writers'. Four names were selected from Turkey: Orhan Pamuk, Yasar Kemal, Murathan Mungan and Elif Shafak. Like many people I only found out about it when I opened the Turkish tabloid Hürriyet, which announced the news in bold type. The very next day the editor in chief of Hürriyet wrote an critical article about the four authors, demanding to know from us why we of all people were chosen, and in what way exactly we were oppressed."
See our feature "I like being several people", an interview with Elif Shafak.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 03.02.2006

The third play by Austrian author, actor and screenwriter Händl Klaus is showing at the Munich Kammerspiele. Peter Michalzik was thrilled with "Dunkel lockenden Welt" (dark alluring world), calling it the "wildest, most upbeat, wittiest bit of causerie this season." Directed by Sebastian Nübling, the play about a young doctor obsessed with cleanliness (Wiebke Puls), her tenant (Jochen Noch) and her mother (Gundi Ellert), "is a grandiose and highly delicate comedy about a precarious feeling, that unbearable feeling par excellence of the inseparability of being and nothingness. The comedy is about presence and absence: those on stage are absent, those who are absent return. The play is like a comma where no one ever puts in a full stop. One word melts into the next, people hang on each others' lips, cut each other off and complete what they were saying. The result is a whirling language screw, a droll existential story for the erudite strata. And it's a murder mystery: but who is dead, and who isn't?" - let's talk european