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German Press Review: Children Held Hostage

German newspapers on Friday were concerned about the Russian hostage situation and the US Republican Party convention, which just concluded in New York.


German newspapers didn't see anything but senseless violence behind the kidnapping of schoolchildren in North Ossetia by armed rebels.

The terrorists “consider being humane to be a weakness,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung from Munich wrote. “President Vladimir Putin has never showed weakness," the paper added. "According to Putin’s doctrine, the state is more important than the lives of individuals.” Nonetheless “the Russian people expect him to save the lives of the children” and so “Putin’s presidency is being put on the line” by the way he handles this situation.

The Express from Cologne was moved by the pictures of

babies freed after days by the hostage-takers. Those images, compared to the “hate-filled, brutal grimaces of the kidnappers,” highlighted the inhumanity of the situation, the paper wrote. It called terrorism “a game with the fundamental anxieties of humans” and noted that in the world “the spiral of violence is getting ever faster, more brutal, and more condemnable.” The paper said the sense of helplessness in fighting terrorism is growing because “if we give in to terror, it grows. If we fight it brutally, it just gets more brutal.”

The growing amount of terror from the Islamic world led Die Welt from Berlin to take aim at arguments that terrorism is not the true face of the religion. "That’s not good enough," the paper told apologists. “It’s only when well-known spiritual leaders of Islam free the Russian children – only when righteous Muslims rally in the streets” that the paper was willing to “talk about giving into the requests of the Islamic world.”

The taz from Berlin looked at another hostage situation in progress: the kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq. Islamic support for freeing them “is the product of more than half a century of French diplomacy.” However, the paper said it was problematic that the rationale used by a lot of leaders was that the hostages should be freed because of France’s foreign policy.” The reasoning, the paper opined, should be "that taking civilians hostage is fundamentally unacceptable – whether they are French, Italian, Nepalese, or whether they are schoolchildren in North Ossetia.”

Most papers saw US President George W. Bush’s strategy at the Republican convention as focusing heavily on his Iraq policy.

The Mannheimer Morgen commented that Bush is “connecting the Iraq War with the memory of the September 11 attacks.” Opponent John Kerry, on the other hand, “cannot fight against the war with the same passion as Bush defends it, because Kerry himself voted for the war and said he would have voted for it even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” the paper concluded.

The Handelsblatt from Dusseldorf pointed out that Bush is standing on “his war against terrorism as well as his tax cuts to stimulate the economy.” He is using every opportunity, the paper noted, to “paint Kerry as a wimp as well as a notorious raiser of taxes. In American politics this is a lethal combination.”

But the Main Post from Würzburg doubted the success of Bush’s strategy, because “the American people don’t just want a warlord, but a man with a vision.”

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