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Opinion: Caution, not cowardice

A football match in Hannover that was meant to be a show of solidarity and freedom had to be canceled. A bitter pill to swallow, but some good came out of the whole ordeal, writes DW's Sabine Kinkartz.

Have the terrorists already won? Have they sown so much fear and mistrust that we are already in their grip? Is it a sign of disgrace that such a symbolic event as the one planned in Hannover had to be cancelled at the last moment? That everyone, including the Chancellor and her ministers, who wanted to enter the stadium with their heads held high, had to turn back and get to safety?

It's a bitter, gnawing feeling that is now growing. And it's not only many football fans who are asking if canceling the game was really necessary. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere clearly believed it was, but he still owes the public a convincing explanation.

Instead, he is asking the public to give him the benefit of the doubt. He does not want to stir up uncertainty, but at the same time he doesn't want to jeopardize the investigation. And that could happen if too much was revealed in the midst of an active investigation.

Valid justification

Apparently there had been good reason for the cancellation. Evidence of a planned attack had reportedly become so convincing over the course of the early evening that calling off the match was inevitable. While I was convinced by what de Maziere had to say, some will nevertheless begin to grumble:

Kommentarfoto Sabine Kinkartz Hauptstadtstudio NEU

DW's Sabine Kinkartz

"Of course the minister and his security network are overreacting to a mere rumor or misinformation, or they simply made a mistake."

Just like in Alsdorf, where, following a tip-off, seven suspects were arrested implying the impression of a great breakthrough. Ten hours later, nothing came of the arrests and all were set free.

Hindsight is always crystal clear. But when in doubt, caution must prevail. Just as this evening, where after undoubtedly intensive deliberation, the match in Hannover was cancelled.

It was surely not an easy decision for de Maziere, but he was responsible for the security of thousands of people. And that is more important than a symbol. And what would have happened if a bomb actually had exploded in the stadium?

An abundance of caution

Something positive can also be taken from the whole ordeal. The events in Hannover showed that the police had the situation firmly under control. The spectators were escorted safely away in an orderly fashion, without chaos or panic. Everything functioned the way it's supposed to. To know that is a good feeling, because it will not be the police's last action in the war against terrorism. Since the threat of terrorism is not going away any time soon, better to deal with it prudently. That as well can be a sign of strength, not cowardice.

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