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German Press Review: Competition of Visual Horrors

German editorials expressed outrage and shock over the circulation of a video showing terrorists beheading an American. Such images do nothing more than prolong the war, they argued.

"The terrorists don’t need to have a moral reason; they don’t have any morals," wrote Die Welt. "They justify their video with the pictures of Iraqis being tortured by American troops as proof of war, saying the Americans started it. But now, a competition of visual horrors is breaking out, and the West will most certainly lose," the national daily said. "These images are so shocking that the actual situation in Iraq is hardly recognizable."

The killers say their crime is a direct response to the abuses of Iraqis by American soldiers at Abu Gharaib prison in Baghdad. But the Süddeutsche Zeitung criticized such mentality. "Violence cannot be avenged with violence," it said. "No matter how badly Americans abused Iraqi prisoners and no matter how illegal it is for Washington to continue holding prisoners at Guantanamo, no one can validate such a gruesome murder." The paper added that such a spurious justification is hypocritical because such cruelties were normal practice when Abu Ghraib was controlled by Saddam Hussein.

"The moral disaster that has struck the U.S. government over the last few weeks has many faces," commented the Berliner Zeitung. "One belongs to the White House, which condemned those who killed American civilian Nick Berg and said they had no respect for innocent lives. The other belongs to Iraqi citizens who would say the same thing about U.S. and British soldiers."

The video showing the killing of American Nick Berg by Islamic extremists has started a vicious cycle, lamented the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten. "Now both sides have the visual proof to stigmatize the other as the villain. Both now believe they are morally superior to the other," the paper observed, adding that such logic can only lead to war. It insisted that the only way for U.S. President George W. Bush to end this horror is to pull out of Iraq.

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