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Europe

German Press Review: Terror and Asylum

Terror was a common theme on the editorial pages of German papers Thursday. Others took stances on German Interior Minister Otto Shily's plan to set up processing centers in Africa for people seeking asylum in Europe.

The Westfälischer Anzeiger in Hamm suggested the most recent terror warnings by the United States are justified, regardless of whether or not they rely on dated information. The threat by al Qaeda still stands, even if three years have passed since the Sept. 11 attacks on the US. The paper added that the majority of Americans believe US President George W. Bush is feeding off the fear of terrorists attacks to prove his strength and to help his election campaign. Should the announcements turn out to be part of a campaign strategy, then they could backfire, the paper commented.

The Handelsblatt also tackled terrorism in its commentary, claiming that the problem is that the hunters and the hunted keep changing side: How seriously do Pakistanis, Saudi Arabians or Iranians take the search for terrorists? How reliable is the information they provide? How deeply are they already involved with terrorism themselves, the paper asked. Pakistan is part of the anti-terror alliance, but the western part of the country is a haven for all kinds of radical Muslims. Saudi Arabian leaders may be US allies, but their devil’s pact with the Wahabists makes them powerless, the paper opined. Iran, it continued, may have to defend itself against violence filtering in from Iraq, but it leaves terrorists passing through the country unchallenged.

Hamburg’s weekly newspaper Die Zeit turned its attention to German Interior Minister Otto Schily’s proposal that African asylum-seekers be placed in camps on their continent while they await the processing of their applications for asylum in Europe. Schily has been sharply criticized by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of the Greens for making the suggestion, but it was the weekly's view that at least his proposal put the fate of Africa back into the realm of political discussion. The Badisches Tageblatt remarked that the Greens don’t want to see how Schily distances himself even further from the government’s humanitarian principles. The Greens’ harsh reaction to Schily’s proposal is understandable, the paper wrote. The interior minister should have known he’d provoke a response he hadn’t intended, the paper commented before it went on to ponder whether he intentionally started the asylum debate.