German Press Review: Iran -- Democracy is the Loser | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.02.2004
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German Press Review: Iran -- Democracy is the Loser

On Monday, many German papers commented on the Iranian parliamentary elections as well as the Jerusalem suicide bombing.

The parliamentary elections in Iran unfolded as expected: The conservatives won an overwhelming victory. Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel said the conservative win could not be attributed exclusively to the fact that many reform candidates were excluded from running. The elections answered the question of who really has power in Iran and it's not the reformers, the paper wrote. It’s now clear what kind of a state Iran is, one that arms the terrorist organization Hizbollah with millions of dollars worth of weapons and supports Palestinian terror groups, the paper said.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was equally critical, and said though Iran’s religious leaders are trying to pass off the elections as free and fair, it seems to be anything but that after more than 2000 reformist candidates were barred from participating. The fact that voters are distancing themselves from politics and are increasingly disillusioned with the government comes as no surprise, the paper added.

Expanding on the issue of voter dissatisfaction, the Westfälischer Anzeiger found it ironic that just hours after the election, which never was, Iran’s Guardian Council announced that Iranians had chosen a brilliant future. Meaning: breaking away from the course of reforms and increasing the influence of religion in public life. The paper observed that the experiment of democracy under President Mohammad Chatami had failed, with the net result being a further strengthened theocracy. But the paper lamented this lapse won’t make headlines in the country because those who would have reported on it, have long since become victims of the alleged new liberty.

Other German papers turned their attention to the suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem on the weekend. The devastating blast on a bus full of people is only going to perpetuate feelings among Israelis who think the wall can never be high or long enough observed the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten. According to the paper, the security barrier, already a third completed, is creating new problems without solving the old ones. Life for Palestinians is going to get worse and this will fuel further acts of terrorism, the paper said. The daily added the Middle East peace process seems to take one step forward and two steps back.

One can endlessly discuss how desperate or mentally ill one must be to blow themselves up on a crowded bus, the Märkische Allgemeine said. But in the end, it’s pure terrorism and the victims are innocent. The daily opined that a country must protect its citizens from such attacks. At the International Court of Justice Israel would argue its case on the same lines. The paper added that, however, presently the issue seems to be less about the wall and more about its route.