Posts tagged ‘islam’

November 19, 2010

Berlin’s terror alert: What goes around comes around

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT HAS issued a terror warning for the country and especially for Berlin, where a major terrorist attack is expected “before the end of the month.” Security fences have gone up around the Reichstag building, machine-gun toting policeman with sixteen kilo bullet-proof vests are patrolling public spaces, security has been doubled outside the city’s Jewish institutions, the BVG public transit authority has proclaimed its second highest security level, and Berlin’s senator for interior affairs (i.e. for police and public safety), Ehrhart Körting, has asked all citizens to report “strange-looking” people and activities to the authorities. According to American security officials, up to four al-Qaeda operatives are already in or near Berlin, where they can rely on over 400 Islamist allies in the capital itself and 3,000 nationwide, many of them fresh from terrorist…

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October 13, 2010

New report finds Germany swinging towards the right

FOR MONTHS IN THIS SPACE I have been writing about the resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment and “respectable” far-right parties in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. While such feelings and parties come and go and have rarely amounted to much since 1945, a new report being presented in Berlin today shows that right wing ideas are becoming increasingly acceptable in Germany and have, in fact, moved into “the center of society.” The Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s new 180-page report The Center in Crisis: Far Right Attitudes in Germany in 2010 finds that “in 2010 there was a significant increase in anti-democratic and racist…

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October 5, 2010

Right-wing Sweden Democrats walk out of anti-racist sermon

IT APPEARS AS IF the Sweden Democrats, the far-right party that recently gained twenty seats in Sweden’s 349-seat Riksdag, are not only skinheads but they are thin-skinned too.  (I have already written about the Sweden Democrats here.)  Today, Prime Minister Reinfeldt, the new parliament, the royal family, and other dignitaries met at Stockholm’s St. Nicholas Cathedral to celebrate a formal service to mark the opening the new parliament.  So far so good.  But as soon as Bishop Eva Brunne began telling the congregation of the thousands of people around the country who were demonstrating against racism, and that it is not worthy of a devout person to make distinctions on the basis of race or ethnic background, the SD group stood up and walked out of the church…

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September 8, 2010

Inspired timing: Berlin politician launches anti-Islam party

THAT’S WHAT I CALL inspired timing. Just when (some) Americans are already gathering to burn Qurans in Florida, a German city councilman in Berlin today announced the founding of a new anti-Muslim party that will run candidates in next year’s municipal election. The conservative Christian Democratic Union kicked René Stadtkewitz (45), who represents the city’s Pankow district in the capital’s local House of Representatives, out of the CDU group yesterday for inviting the xenophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders to deliver a lecture here on October 2 to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of Germany’s reunification. This was too much for the CDU, and Stadtkewitz…

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September 8, 2010

Koran-burning pastor’s German parishioners shocked by plans

TOO LATE, GENERAL PETRAEUS: The Rev. Terry Jones’s plan to burn thousands of Korans at his “Dove World Outreach” Center in Gainsville, Florida on September 11 has already grabbed the world’s headlines this week, regardless of what actually does or doesn’t happen on Saturday. It has attracted particular attention in the German city of Cologne, where the pesky pastor first got his big break. But his former parishioners want nothing to do with…

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August 30, 2010

Are Muslim immigrants making Europe “poorer and stupider”?

BACK IN THE RESTLESS 1990s, when the German far right was undergoing yet another short-lived rebirth into the political mainstream, the racist Republican Party under the leadership of ex-Nazi and SS man Franz Schönhuber used to put up what I still regard as the most remarkable political poster ever. Printed in the nationalist colors black, white, and red, it simply displayed the words: “We say what you think.” Today, another German politician has been making headlines in recent weeks for also saying aloud what millions of Europeans fervently believe but rarely dare to put into words. His explosive new book Germany is Abolishing Itself appeared on store shelves this morning, and the future of European politics may depend on how…

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June 11, 2010

Swedish millionaire said to be behind Auschwitz sign theft

THE SIGN OVER THE gateway to Auschwitz concentration camp bearing the infamous slogan “Work sets you free,” which was stolen by three Polish men last December 18, may have been purloined on behalf of a Swedish millionaire. (I already wrote about the Auschwitz theft here and here.) According to today’s edition of the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Lars-Göran Wahlström, a familiar figure in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement, had asked his friend Anders Högström to arrange the theft for money. Högström, a former neo-Nazi who until recently had been working to educate young Swedes about the evils of right wing extremism, was later arrested and admitted to having hired the three Poles to do the job. They have since received jail sentences of between one and a half and two and a half years. Högström is still awaiting trial in Poland.

Högström revealed Wahlström’s name…

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June 9, 2010

Don’t like separation of Church and State? Come to Germany!

THE TEXAS BOARD OF Education has repeatedly captured the headlines in recent months for its attempts to rewrite American history – and even reality itself – by imposing strict ideological guidelines on the Lone Star State’s school textbooks. These guidelines include deemphasizing Thomas Jefferson as a Founding Father because of his promotion of the separation of church and state. I suppose they are within their rights in doing so, but first let me suggest that if American religious conservatives came to Germany, they might come away with a realization that old Thomas J. was a good deal smarter than they give him credit for.

Time are getting tough in Germany now that the federal government in Berlin has passed an unprecedented austerity program, with cuts amounting to over 11 billion Euros by next year. State and local governments are following the capital’s lead. It seems like everything is going to be chopped down to size…

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June 7, 2010

Does religion make people violent? A sociologist says yes

WE ALL SUSPECT THERE’S a connection between religiosity and violence, but a German criminologist recently decided to find out once and for all. The results of his survey, entitled Religion, Integration and Delinquency Among Young People in Germany, which he published over the weekend, are likely to pour new gasoline on an already raging controversy.

Professor Christian Pfeiffer, a social psychologist and former justice minister in the regional government in Hanover, is currently serving as the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony. After evaluating a survey on religious attitudes and violent behavior conducted among 45,000 students of both genders (including 10,000 from immigrant backgrounds) between the ages of fourteen and sixteen at German schools, Pfeiffer discovered that the more religious young, male Muslim immigrants are, the less well-integrated and more violent they become. He found that “very religious” Muslim immigrant youths were the most violent, at a rate of 23.5 percent…

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June 3, 2010

Threatened Swedish artist invited to complete his lecture

IT’S BEEN A DIFFICULT month for Swedish artist Lars Vilks. It’s bad enough that the man’s greatest claim to artistic fame is a crude sketch of the Prophet Mohammed with a human head and a dog’s body that he jotted down in 2007 – it’s not exactly the “Mona Lisa,” after all. He has been receiving death threats ever since. On May 11 Vilks was physically attacked by a mob of outraged Muslim students at the University of Uppsala while he delivered a lecture on freedom of expression and art, during which he showed a short film depicting gay young men with Muhammed masks engaging in sexual intercourse. In the following days his enemies hacked his computer website and set his house on fire…

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