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European Press Review: Hostages in Iraq

European editorials on Wednesday took a look at the hostage situation in Iraq, where a group of Nepalese hostages was killed Tuesday, and two French reporters are still in the hands of their kidnappers.

The French reporters are nothing but chess pieces for the terrorists who hold them, Liberation from France wrote -- chess pieces whose kidnapping or murder secures their captors worldwide attention -- which is exactly what the terrorists are after. The paper wondered if people have to die to gather information. News is essential to democracy, citizens need information to judge their government’s action -- and reporters give them that information, the paper opined. One should not forget that reporters wage the fight for freedom of information without weapons, and sometimes, they pay with their lives, the daily concluded.

De Volkskrant from The Netherlands commented on the fact that the Iraqi kidnappers are demanding the French government immediately do away with a law banning headscarves from public schools. It shows that they have no idea how a democracy works, the paper wrote. Fortunately, France’s leading Muslim organizations do, and they have clearly opposed the kidnapping, noted the daily, adding that since the French Muslim community is Europe’s largest, its position can be regarded as a signal that carries international weight.

The Russian daily Kommersant pondered: What have the terrorists achieved in Iraq? If they kill the two French hostages, France’s empathy with the Iraqi opposition will end, wrote the paper. Russia’s compassion is cooling after the country has lost two passenger planes in the fight with terrorists. That leaves Germany, which has not been targeted yet, the daily noted. With a look at what happened to France, Germans can’t sleep soundly any more either. The coalition of opponents to the Iraq war has broken apart, the paper concluded.While Poland’s Rzeczpospolita condemned all terrorism, it tried to find a degree of understanding for the Chechen suicide bombing at a Moscow subway station on Tuesday. There is no justification for any kind of terrorism, the paper observed: Innocent people are killed, others are maimed, families suffer and fear is omnipresent. But one can try to understand some terrorists, like the Chechen suicide bombers, the paper wrote and went on to say that it is terrible that they saw no other solution but to take many lives along with their own. The paper cautioned that people are likely to hear more from Chechen terrorists and their bloody attacks, until Moscow changes its policies toward the republic and tries to strike a different tone with the separatists.

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