International media reflect on the Berlin terror attack | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 25.12.2016
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International media reflect on the Berlin terror attack

International media have many takes on Monday night's tragic events in Berlin. One thing has been clear in all the commentaries that have been written: The challenges are huge.

The journey of alleged terrorist Anis Amris ended near Milan - on a patch of asphalt in the municipality of Sesto San Giovani, to be exact.

 "His corpse," writes the Italia newspaper "Corriere della Sera," "is the emblem of a crazy and tragic journey that began five years ago and stands for many aspects of the new threat we face. Maybe he even represents all the aspects." Illegal immigration, religious radicalization and terrorism: all of this was encapsulated by this body in the street, the paper said. Added to this was the incapability of German authorities to send people like Anis Amri back to their home country, it wrote, adding: "And so a person who was classified as dangerous by security forces was able to maintain his contacts with other militants who probably encouraged him in the phase of mobilization that precedes every such deed."

Anis Amri is also a symbol of a global problem, writes the newspaper "La Repubblica." "It is terrorism that can unexpectedly hit anywhere: France, Belgium, Germany, the USA, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The terrorists' motives depend on the size of the Islamic community in the country they live in, the degree of integration and the competence of security forces." But there is one more phenomenon, writes "Repubblica": the "banlieus," meaning the impoverished suburbs of large cities. This was where many uprooted people lived, it said, fostering "the fight of an angry class whose members find terrorism appealing."

One country, two stories

At the same time, the life story of the terrorist Amri also sheds light on the situation in Tunisia. The North African country can tell two stories, writes the British "Telegraph." On one hand, there is the story of the revolution that has led to happy and successful democratic conditions. "The second story is of how over many years a generation of young men and women was marginalized and exposed to radicalization, and this is a story that many in Tunisia are still reluctant to admit. "

Instead, they prefer to point out the seductive power of international jihadism. But this does not absolve them of responsibility, the paper says: Amri's career reveals something else, being "evidence of an increasingly common link between criminality and radicalization; the two communities often overlap in recruitment."

Italien Mailand Sicherheitskräfte vor Mailänder Dom mit Weihnachtsbaum (picture-aliance/AP Photo/L. Bruno)

Security is tight throughout Europe, as here in front of Milan's cathedral

'General anger'

The London-based Arabic newspaper "Asharq al-Awsat" says that material conditions initially disappointed many refugees in Germany, many of whom end up "sleeping in makeshift, windowless enclosures that - though clean and well-supplied - have walls that don't reach the high ceiling and echo with the slightest sound."

 It was thus actually quite easy to find a story to explain how terrorism was engendered, the paper said. "The story of a dangerous journey via the Balkan route to Germany, the long wait for decisions being made by overwhelmed authorities, a joyless existence in a defunct airport without prospects of finding work, combined with petty crime, Islamist propaganda on the Internet and at the end, the attack."

It is an attack that also upset Tunisians, according to the website G Net. "The news gives you goose bumps. The shock is collective, there is general anger. The name of a Tunisian has been added to the list of those who spread fear through international terror. Helpless and powerless, we can only vehemently condemn thos who sully our reputation in front of the entire world."

Threat of polarization

The Arabic-language newspaper "Al-Araby Al-Jadeed" writes that the attack could have other consequences. "It feeds the fear of Europeans that their countries are no longer safe from terrorism, which is increasingly threatening them. The series of attacks with dozens left dead could undermine the sense of security. That leaves governments with the difficult task of striking an appropriate balance between peace and freedom."

Anis Amri's path through Europe ENGLISCH

And this, in turn, poses another danger, the paper says. "The first beneficiaries of these events, which promote the polarization of European societies, are the far-right and nationalist parties and the slander campaigns against Muslims. All indicators point to the fact that right-leaning parties will be sitting in European parliaments after the coming elections."

But it hasn't come to that yet, "Asharq al-Awsat" assures its readers. "The incident and its aftermath won't, however, destroy the spirit of this vital, unsentimental, vastly tolerant and wildly mischievous city. Berlin will mourn, as it often has, and it will move on as it has always done."

22,000 potential jihadists

The Spanish paper "El Pais" believes that Angela Merkel probably sees things this way too. She, too, is aware how seductive populist slogans can sound. "But she also knows that they do not deal with the root of the problem. So she confronts them with the force of moral conviction, no matter how unpopular it may be. By doing so, she will turn into the only political leader worthy of the title."

At the same time, European states face great challenges, writes the Spanish newspaper "El Mundo." This is especially applies to putting the appropriate security measures in place, it says. "But we must not forget that absolute security is impossible. The roughly 22,000 potential jihadists  - according to estimates made by security services in Europe - show us the scale of the danger we face."

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