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Europe

Press Review: Peaceful Islam

European editorials on Monday discussed the integration of Muslims in Germany as well as the international conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, regarding the future of Iraq.


Over the weekend around 20,000 Muslims took to Cologne's streets in a demonstration stressing that Islam is a peaceful religion and that those who perpetrate violence in its name are criminals.

The Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein-Zeitung of Essen, where many Turks live, said that quick diagnoses from the politicians and the media would only generate hysteria. Expecting self-healing forces of 'modernism' from Islam can’t work, it said. Protestants and Catholics needed hundreds of years for the basic attitude which is now taken as self-evident: tolerance of other beliefs. What the Muslims need to do, said the paper, is to rigorously pull away the ground that the warriors of faith in their orbit stand on and renew their societies from within. The Germans need to do two things, the paper wrote: use the full power of the law against all who in word and deed put the Koran above the rules of democratic society, while continuing to welcome those Muslims who realize what’s at stake.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung suggested that integration always happens through work and through growing prosperity. The shared language of locals and immigrants was the language of success. This communication has almost become mute, it said. Mass unemployment and fear of terror, wrote the Stuttgart paper, stirs great mistrust especially between Germans and Muslims. Particularly in big cities, many Muslims, who claim to be withdrawing for religious reasons, use this isolation to shield criminal sub-cultures. It has to be part of the predominant German culture not to tolerate this, and that, too, needs to be stated clearly. That will lead to well-functioning multiculturalism.

In Barcelona, El Periodico saw President Bush as sabotaging the European initiative with Iran over its nuclear program. The Bush administration is repeating with Iran the strategy it already used to justify the invasion of Iraq, said the Spanish paper. The threats are coming just at the time when the European initiative is starting to show some success. Washington has before sabotaged the work of the United Nations inspectors in Iraq, and now the hawks in the White House are trying in the same way to cause the tripartite negotiations of Britain, France and Germany with Iran to fail. The US doesn’t want a dialogue, said El Periodico, and it’s illusory to expect Bush to switch to a moderate course.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera previewed the international conference on Iraq being held in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, on Monday and Tuesday. The strong multi-lateral nature of the conference makes it an immediate success, said the Milan-based paper. Those who wanted Iraq liberated and those who opposed the invasion are all sitting together for the first time. Elections, borders, military presence and money are the topics of discussion. To address this urgent issue, said Corriere della Serra, an agreement on borders would be a help. The interim Iraqi government accuses Syria and Iran of supporting terrorism in the country, noted the paper.

Liberation in Paris, pointed out that together with the Russians, the French were the first to call for such an Iraq conference. However, Paris then had to drop some of its demands. France wanted a timetable for withdrawal of coalition troops but had to make do with a reference to a time limit for their presence. Putting a brave face on it now, said the Paris paper, is assuming that the conference will at lead to some result, because it shows that the international community supports the political transition in Iraq. In this, said Liberation, France sees yet another vindication of its moral victory in the disputes over Iraq.

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