From the Feuilletons


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 12.07.2006

Alfred Hackensberger presents a movement of devout Muslim women struggling for the equality of women in Islam. One is American author Asra Nomani: "'Islam and feminism are not contradictory,' Nomani says. 'On the contrary, emancipation fits in very well with the early teachings of our religion, and it gives hope that extremism can be overcome.' The journalist fights in the USA for the 'soul of Islam.' Other women are active in Pakistan (Asma Barlas), Iran (Ziba Mir-Hosseini) and Libanon (Azizah al-Hibri). Yet they are loath to be designated as feminists – which is understandable, as feminism is a secular, Western term. They prefer 'gender jihad'."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 12.07.2006

Speculation continues over whether journalist Kathrin Passig's appearance at the Ingeborg Bachmann literary competition in Klagenfurt (more here) was a "base coup" or an "ingenious prank." Ina Hartwig writes on the prize winner and her "Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur," a virtual "capitalist-socialist joint-venture" that takes on various missions in the world of culture. After Passig won the prize, the agency posted the words "mission accomplished" on its website. "There was no reason for Kathrin Passig to be seen as some kind of stranger. To get to know her all you had to do was read the tageszeitung's regular 'Truth' page with satire, poems, cartoons and the like.... Passig is not identical with the tageszeitung, but the paper is the milieu in which she and the ZIA flourish, and it goes a long way in making them understandable. Perhaps the best way of putting it would be to say the transition from the paper to Passig and the ZIA is a smooth one. The reason everyone was so baffled by Passig's appearance evidently has a lot to do with the fact that this milieu of Berliners-by-choice is largely unknown in Klagenfurt. If the jury did more spadework here it could avoid considerable embarrassment."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12.07.2006

Jens Bisky throws a positive light on the work of Berlin's controversial Senator for Cultural Affairs, Thomas Flierl of the PDS, the successor party to the East German communists. But he also highlights some of Flierl's mistakes: "The East-West opposition is even stronger now than the (trendy) eastern districts of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain would lead you to believe. That has to do with the worst fault of this (SPD-PDS) coalition and this cultural senator: neglecting Berlin as a municipality. With all the focus going to the cultural role of the nation's capital and the question of monuments and memorials, the city's other institutions got the short end of the stick. Berlin has amply shown it can be the nation's capital. But as a city it's a bankrupt conglomerate of neighbourhoods." The SPD has made it clear it would get rid of Flierl if it won the next municipal elections. With typical resourcefulness it is considering simply dissolving his department.

Poland remains less than amused by the satirical article that appeared in the tageszeitung a couple of weeks ago in which Polish president Lech Kaczynski, "Poland's new potato," was said - among other things - to know no more of Germany than the "spittoon in the men's bathroom in the Frankfurt airport." Lech's brother Jaroslav, Poland's Prime Minister, has demanded that the German government take action against the errant newspaper. (more here) Polish journalist Konstanty Gebert reflects on what is threatening to become a mini cartoon scandal between Germany and Poland. "Most German jokes about Poland operate on the level of 'Come to Poland. Your car's already there.' The Poles have gotten sensitive about that. On the other hand, there is a German cabaret artist in Poland, Stefan Möller, who speaks horrible Polish and makes really nasty jokes but the Poles love him: because he speaks their language and shares their sense of humour."

Die Welt, 12.07.2006

A solo exhibition with works by artist Arno Breker will open July 22 at the Schleswig Holstein Haus in Schwerin. In an interview with Uta Baier, curator Rudolf Conrades justifies the show featuring Hitler's favourite sculptor. "I don't think an artistic exhibition has ever driven people into the arms of the extreme Right. I have read on one Internet site that our project is being praised in right-wing circles. They showed an allegedly typical Breker statue. But in fact the statue is 'Mother and Child' by Josef Thorak (image). That's exactly what I mean: everyone talks about Breker, but no one really knows him. After the exhibition things will be different."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12.07.2006

Volker Schlöndorff's most recent film "Strajk - Die Heldin von Danzig" (Forgotten Hero) has premiered in Gdansk for an audience of select guests who had to swear a vow of silence on what they saw so as not to jeopardise the film's chances at festivals. Schlöndorff intended the film to be a tribute to the unsung hero Anna Walentynowicz, a crane driver who was instrumental in the Solidarity movement but who relinquished its leadership to Lech Walesa. But as Katarzyna Tuszynska reports, Walentynowicz, today 76 years old, feels anything but honoured; in fact, she has taken legal action against Schlöndorff. "In her opinion, Schlöndorff twisted the facts of her biography and is risking ruining her reputation if the film comes into cinemas. 'Right up until shooting began, Schlöndorff had not contacted me,' Walentynowicz complains. She only learned that a film was being made about her in the dockyard from an actress friend. 'I had to force Schlöndorff to let me read the screenplay.'" - let's talk european