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Europe

German Press Review: Does the Country Need to Worry About Terror?

On Thursday, opinion-makers looked at German complacency amid terrorism, and asked themselves whether freed European tourists held hostage in the Sahara had a lesson to learn.

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The Financial Times Deutschland considers the latest reminder from Interior Minister Otto Schily that Germany remains under threat from Al Qaeda. "Schily was right to make the point, the paper writes, because despite the bloody attacks in Bali and Djerba, Germans have become complacent. The fanatic suicide attackers are too far away, September 11th 2001 is too long ago. The truth is that no one here is safe from acts of terrorism. Leading Al Qaeda fighters lived in Germany for years, and according to intelligence officials, some are still here." The government has a responsibility to keep the threat of terrorism in the public consciousness, the paper concludes.

The Berliner Kurier refuses to be satisfied with reassurances from security officials that there are no indications of a terrorist attack here in Germany. "There weren't any warnings for what happened in Djerba or Riyadh either," the paper says, adding: "The sad truth is that it could happen anywhere. Al Qaeda's fighters are all over the world, prepared to kill. There's a very fine line between the necessary communication of important information, and inducing panic. But pretending there's no danger doesn't help anyone."

Berlin's Die Welt comments on the release of six German tourists who were kidnapped in Algeria. "There is no cause for joy yet, because the fate of the 15 other hostages, including 10 Germans, is still unclear," the paper writes. "No one should say that it's the tourists' fault anymore, that they are victims of their own thirst for adventure. If it is truly the case that terrorists are responsible for the kidnappings, then this is no protest against excessive tourism, it's another attack in the crazy war against the West."

But the Stuttgarter Zeitung comments that the kidnapped holiday makers in the Sahara had to learn from bitter experience that idea of the safe, idyllic desert getaway they bought into was an illusion. "When it comes to modern adventure travel, terror, war and crisis have become inescapable travel companions. And since that's not about to change, Germans are not just world champions in adventure travel, they're also masters in the art of suppressing the dangers such travel involves."