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Europe

European Press Review: Fanaticism Breeds Fanaticism

European editorials on Wednesday commented on the situation in the Netherlands after the assassination of controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected Islamic extremist and on the Yasser Arafat's imminent death.

The murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh has created an uneasy atmosphere of fear and extremism in the Netherlands, said Denmark’s Politiken. The paper pointed out that religious extremists are making threats via the Internet, Islamic sites are subject to attacks, and even within the government there is talk of a "war" against Muslim extremists. The paper warned that there is the risk of subscribing to the same kind of logic that served the Nazis as an excuse for their pogroms against German and Austrian Jews in 1938. History should have taught us Europeans to stand up to such a way of thinking.

Spain’s El Mundo wrote that the spiral of action and reaction is moving fanaticism in the heart of civilized Europe to the center of people’s lives. Van Gogh’s murder is the result of intolerance and the presence of people who can’t adapt to our society’s democratic values. And the worst part is that such fanaticism can breed fanaticism from the other side -- a threat to coexistence. All of Europe should look closely at the Netherlands, and try to prevent an evil that looks likely to spread even further.

Germany’s Berliner Zeitung commented that a broad consensus has for decades kept a lid on the problems. Now the media are speaking of a jihad -- a holy war -- on the streets, and dialogue is becoming increasingly irreconcilable in liberal-minded Holland, of all places, the paper said.

Other papers commented on the rumors surrounding Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's condition. According to Italy’s Il Messaggero it's clear that Arafat’s state of health is being used as a political weapon. The paper pointed to the power his wife Suha appears to wield: if her enemies are to be believed, then her one and only goal is to become pivotal in the search for a successor, and to become the only one to uphold the words of the great old man.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung from Switzerland said that it is understandable that Suha Arafat's sudden appearance in Ramallah after living in comfort in a five-star hotel in Paris prompted the displeasure of her husband’s former comrades. Supposedly, Suha made all recent medical decisions and tongues are wagging that she prolonged Arafat’s death in order to finalize certain financial transactions.

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