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Europe

German Press Review: Bomb Attack in Jakarta

German newspapers focused on Friday on the bomb attack in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and reacted on Deutsche Bahn’s plans to raise ticket prices.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported that at least 8 dead, more than 100 injured, but the apparent target of the attack was almost undamaged. The paper pointed out that while the bomb exploded in front of the Australian embassy, all the victims were Indonesian. Three years on from September the 11th, it said, the security situation had changed: so called ‘hard’ targets connected to the infrastructure of Western societies were better protected than ever, but you couldn’t do anything to prevent unscrupulous massacres in the middle of daily life, the paper concluded. The paper referred back to the Madrid bombings earlier this year, and commented that while Jihadists were able to influence the Spanish elections in their favor, the government was voted out not only because of the terror attack, but because it made the mistake of spreading disinformation about who was responsible. The paper opined it was unlikely that the forthcoming elections in Indonesia and Australia would be affected in a similar way.

Landeszeitung in Lüneburg was more skeptical. It made ominous mention of the fact that, like Spain in March, Australia too was about to go to the polls, in what the paper saw as a vote over the hard line course of Australian premier John Howard. It described Howard as being, like his former Spanish counterpart José Maria Aznar, a loyal vassal of George W. Bush. It went on to declare in colourful language that the latest attack in Jakarta was part of the harvest from the bad seed sown by Bush’s Iraq crusade.

Meanwhile, Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung was alarmed by what it saw as growing Arab influence in south-east Asia. Nearly all the radical Islamist groups have their patrons in the Middle East, it wrote. The paper commented that those most susceptible to their arguments were people who had studied in Arab countries, and that most of these came from the educated middle classes. It warned that if the extremists managed to infiltrate schools, the tolerant face of Indonesian Islam could soon change.

The Frankfurter Rundschau commented on the announcement that train fares were going to go up again, just five months after the last increase, because of the rising price of fuel. The German railway company Deutsche Bahn was accelerating down the wrong track. If at least the service were good and the trains more punctual, maybe the customers would be prepared to accept more expensive tickets, the paper opined.

The Südwest Presse in Ulm blamed the company’s chief executive, saying he was determined to make a profit in 2004 to get Deutsche Bahn ready for the stock market. By following this strategy, the paper warned, and raising ticket prices when the company already had a bad reputation, he would achieve the opposite of what he was aiming for: “fewer customers rather than more, and therefore less revenue,” the paper concluded.

The Offenbach-Post thought that raising prices for train tickets would send the wrong political message. It would just drive people out of the trains and into their cars, or into the arms of the cheap airlines, the paper wrote. Adding that it was mainly these airlines that were responsible for Deutsche Bahn’s losses of 214 million euros in the first half of the year.

The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung in Essen pointed out that while airline companies wouldn’t have to pay value added tax on kerosene, the railway company had to pay it for diesel and electricity. This gave the airborne competition an unfair advantage which should be abolished, the paper wrote.