German President Urges Restraint in Anti-Terror Debate | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 15.07.2007
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Germany

German President Urges Restraint in Anti-Terror Debate

German President Horst Köhler joined in the debate over controversial proposals by the country's interior minister to fight terrorism, including internment without trial and possible targeted killings of terror suspects.

Interior Minister Schäuble's controversial statements on anti-terror tactics caused outrage

Interior Minister Schäuble's controversial statements on anti-terror tactics caused outrage

Köhler urged Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to show restraint in presenting ideas which he said could unnecessary unsettle the population.

It was the duty of the minister "to wrack his brains" over the best way to protect citizens, the president said in an interview on Germany's second television channel ZDF. But the staccato "manner in which the suggestions came about" was not ideal.

Schäuble called for legal powers to intern terrorist "combatants" before they struck and said that Germany might have to introduce a US-style criminal offence of conspiracy to commit a crime.

The minister, who outlined his thoughts in the news magazine Der Spiegel last week, also proposed a ban on the use of the internet and mobile phones by people the state deemed to be dangerous.

Schäuble calls for clarification on targeted killings

Horst Köhler am Schreibtisch

Köhler urged Schäuble to think before speaking

Schäuble also called for clarification under what conditions the constitution permits the state to target and kill terrorists. President Köhler said he had his doubts whether "the killing of a suspected terrorist without a court ruling could be treated so lightly."

The minister's remarks, particularly those about targeted assassinations, provoked outrage in Germany, with opposition Greens party leader Claudia Roth calling on him to resign.

Schäuble, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), defended his views, saying: "You must take risks to defend liberty, but you can't just sit back and do nothing either."

But the Social Democrats (SPD), who have been in a power-sharing government with the CDU since November 2005, warned that the minister's remarks could threaten the continuation of the coalition.

Critics call for interior minister to resign

Landesparteitag der SPD Bremen

Kurt Beck: "Schäuble's protecting freedom to death"

"The grand coalition cannot put up for ever with Schäuble is doing," said Ralf Stegner, SPD interior minister in the northern state of Schleswig Holstein. "Frau Merkel has to tell him, 'enough is enough'," he said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

SPD chairman Kurt Beck accused Schäuble of being excessive and losing sight of his goals. "His proposals far surpass the current constitutional consensus. He wants to protect freedom to death," Beck told Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Schäuble's proposals came in the wake of the failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. Germany had a similar scare in July last year when authorities defused two suitcase bombs Islamic militants placed on trains.

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