′Defend the Enlightenment,′ say culture organizers in reaction to terror | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 15.11.2015
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'Defend the Enlightenment,' say culture organizers in reaction to terror

Horror, bewilderment, grief - after November 13, the world held its breath. Meanwhile, words are being found, and those active in the culture industry are expressing their determination not to react by changing.

At least 89 innocent people were killed in Paris' Bataclan concert hall alone on Friday evening (13.11.2015), with jihadist group "Islamic State" claiming responsibility. German concert organizer Marek Lieberberg believes that protecting large-scale music events from terror attacks is impossible: "We cannot defend ourselves from Kalashnikovs or bombs with our bare hands or metal detectors." The culture industry is the wrong place to look for security issues, he says. Lieberberg places his trust in security officials and society instead: "None of us is equipped to deal with a terrorist situation - not in any sector of public life."

A crew member of the Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal was one of the casualties of the concert hall attack. British merchandising manager Nick Alexander had also toured with the bands Sum 41, Panic! at the Disco and The Black Keys. In the music journal Rolling Stone, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney called him a "hard worker" and a "real sweetheart." Condolences on Facebook keep coming in. The Eagles of Death Metal aborted their European tour, which was also supposed to take them to Germany.

Terrorism and the refugee crisis

Die deutsch-argentinische Regisseurin Jeanine Meerapfel

Jeanine Meerapfel is no advocate of fences

On Saturday (14.11.2015), a group of Germans who are active in the culture scene met at the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts) in Berlin for a "Long Night of Flight and Asylum." The events in Paris have cast a new light on the issue, with a vague fear circulating in Europe that the refugee crisis may be making it easier for Islamist assassins to travel to countries where they plan to attack.

"We cannot build fences in response to terrorism," says Jeanine Meerapfel, president of the Academy. That would be the wrong approach: "We must not forget that people are in need." She feels that Europe should come together and find common solutions - for the refugee problem as well.

"In general, we Europeans are all children of the Enlightenment. This is something to be defended," says Meerapfel's predecessor, the German caricaturist and graphic designer Klaus Staeck. "Woe to him who has the idea of cutting back there." German actor and director Hanns Zischler, for his part, believes that terrorists acting on pseudo-religious principles completely reject our freedom-based societal order and lack "the ability to accept that someone else might be different from myself. That simple fact must always be in our heads, our behavior and our life," said Zischler at the Academy.

German-Iraqi author Abbas Khider is concerned that migrants living in Europe could face greater problems now, "because people might think that all Muslims and Arabs are involved and dangerous." That attitude had been widely observed after September 11, 2001, he said. Describing the current mood as "rather extreme," Khider has the feeling that "everyone is somehow on the left or right extreme of the political spectrum." Finding a "happy medium" is very difficult at present, he said.

After the night of terror - French President Francois Hollande was at Paris' Stade de France, one of the sites of violence - the issue was raised whether the UEFA Euro 2016 in France should be cancelled. "Were we to pose that question, we'd only be doing the terrorists a favor," said Jacques Lambert, head of the organization committee, in an interview with French broadcaster RTL. "Stadium security is high. Streets and places where people gather spontaneously are higher-risk areas."

Arabischer Frühling und die Herausforderungen

Guido Steinberg is a noted book author and lecturer

One must assume that "the European Championship is a very important goal for jihadists," explained Islam scholar Guido Steinberg to the Bremen newspaper "Kurier am Sonntag." Protecting mass events like the Euro 2016 is quite possible - but the big event "will take place under far more drastic security measures than we've seen up to now," said Steinberg.

Attacks in Germany

A terrorism expert at the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Steinberg does not rule out acts of terror in Germany, being "quite certain that such plans are being made here as well. Whether they are successful is impossible to say," he added, but conceded that the jihadist scene in Germany was weaker than in France.

Klaus Staeck reminded listeners at the Academy of Arts that Germany has seen several comparable situations, even though attacks have been prevented up to now. But, continued Staeck, in the final analysis, "restrictive laws" cannot deliver the desired level of protection.

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