Current Events

European Reaction to Muslim Protests

The EUObserver reported on September 22, 2006:

“Angry Muslim reaction to the Pope’s recent remarks on Islam has seen some centre-right MEPs make a last-minute attempt to insert a paragraph condemning the Muslim outcry into a major report on Turkey’s EU accession progress… But with [the] draft version of the report already ruffling feathers in Ankara, EPP-ED deputies opted to prevent further controversy by refraining from a reference to the protests in the Muslim world on the Pope’s speech. Instead, they only filed a comment that welcomes the Pope’s planned November visit to Turkey.”

Such “diplomatic” silence of some European politicians has angered others.

On September 24, 2006, filed this report:

“Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, the EU Commission president, has strongly defended Pope Benedict XVI, saying Muslim criticism was unacceptable. Barroso’s comments appeared a day after Spanish media quoted Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister [from 1996 to 2004], as saying that Benedict had no need to apologise… Asked why European leaders had not stood up to defend the pope’s right to free speech, Barroso said: ‘Perhaps it is because there are concerns about a possible confrontation. I was disappointed that there were not more European leaders who said: “Obviously the pope has the right to express his opinion. The problem is not the comments of the pope but the reactions of the extremists … We must defend our values.” Why do we always have to say sorry and they never do?… It is interesting to note that while a lot of people in the world are asking the pope to apologise for his speech, I have never heard a Muslim say sorry for having conquered Spain and occupying it for eight centuries.'”

The comments by the Pope regarding Mohammed and Islam and the ensuing protests by many Muslims might very well lead to a stronger reaction from the Western world. The following articles might just be additional examples.

Germany’s “Fear” of Radical Muslims?

 On September 26, The Associated Press reported:

“A leading opera house canceled a 3-year-old production of Mozart’s ‘Idomeneo’ that included a scene showing the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, unleashing a furious debate over free speech. In a statement late Monday, the Deutsche Oper said it decided ‘with great regret’ to cancel the production of the 225-year-old opera after Berlin security officials warned of an ‘incalculable risk’ stemming from the scene.”

The article continued:

“Many…, including Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, condemned the decision… ‘That is crazy,’ Schaeuble told reporters in Washington… ‘This is unacceptable.’ Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said that ‘with all understanding for the concern about the security of spectators and performers, I consider the decision of the director to be wrong. Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived on the offensive. Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them.’ Bernd Neumann, the federal government’s top cultural official, said that ‘problems cannot be solved by keeping silent. When the concern over possible protests leads to self-censorship, then the democratic culture of free speech becomes endangered.'”

Der Spiegel Online reported in more detail about the fierce German reaction from all major political parties to the self-censorship of the opera house. In its article of September 26, the magazine quoted leading politicians as speaking of “prostration before radical Muslims” and “pure cowardness.” Wolfgang Thierse, Vice-President of the German Parliament, stated that this is “a frightening sign of fear.” He asked: “What will be next? After having limited the freedom of art, will we now limit the freedom of speech and of preaching?” Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, was quoted as saying that the decision of the opera house was “utter nonsense.”

According to The Associated Press of September 27, “German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against ‘self-censorship out of fear’… ‘We must be careful that we do not increasingly shy away out of fear of violent radicals,’ Merkel told the Hannover Neue Presse. ‘Self-censorship out of fear is not tolerable.’… Response from Germany’s Islamic community was mixed, with some praising the decision and others calling on Muslims to accept the role of provocation in art.”

The reaction of the German press was also quite telling. According to a summary, which was published in Der Spiegel Online on September 27, 2006, “The Financial Times Deutschland doesn’t pull any punches. ‘The self-censorship of the Deutsche Oper is hysterical and stupid.’… The Handelsblatt also cautions Germans not to lose their heads. ‘… Has the country lost the faculty to discriminate between a Mozart opera and conscious insults of Islam?’… The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung… paints the controversy in bold, historical strokes. ‘This is about the danger that is lurking throughout all the Western democracies… the voluntary abandonment of our constitutionally protected freedom of speech.'”

Afraid of the Fear of Terror?

On September 27, Der Spiegel Online published the following “telling” editorial:

“One of Mozart’s operas [has] been taken off the playlist at Berlin’s State Opera for fear of a terrorist attack. It’s a shocking example of pre-emptive surrender: At this point, it seems, terrorists don’t even need to issue a specific threat in order to intimidate us. It took the Catholic Church 359 years to revoke its condemnation of Galileo, but the current Pope needed only two days to distance himself from his quotation of a statement that remains topical despite being uttered 500 years ago. Piet Hein Donner, the former Dutch Minister of Justice, who has just resigned from her position, believes Islamic Shariah law could be legally introduced in Holland if two thirds of the Dutch population were to one day approve it. The London police has announced it will inform and consult with a board of Muslim community leaders the next time it plans an anti-terrorism operation that affects Muslims…

“If we didn’t already know it by the time of the recent scandal surrounding cartoons of Muhammad were published in a Dutch newspaper, that event confirmed to us that Muslims are especially sensitive when it comes to their prophet. We learned that their anger threshold is very low and that it’s best not to overstep it. We also learned that they interpret the suggestion that they incline towards violence as a form of defamation — one they like to respond to by burning flags and effigies, and by chanting ‘Kill Those Who Insult Islam!’

“Representatives of other religions, of course, are a bit more relaxed when they become an object of ridicule or malice. No Catholic authority got upset when Cologne’s Cardinal Meisner was represented as an inquisitor who burns women at the stake. German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t send out any hit squads either when she became the object of sexist caricatures in Mainz. But during this year’s Carnival festivities — a time when, traditionally, no taboo is respected as long as overstepping it raises a laugh — Cologne’s famed carnival societies decided to take no risks and do without jokes about Islam and Muslims. And so the festivities remained untainted by violence…

“What’s next?… If this attitude prevails, drama, art and literature will have a hard time in the future… Even a drama as harmless as Lessing’s ‘Nathan the Wise’ could cause outrage. The play features a dialogue between a Christian, a Jewish and a Muslim character. But it doesn’t present them as absolute equals.”

Interview With Syrian President

On September 24, Der Spiegel Online published a revealing interview with Syrian President Bashar Assad. We are quoting the following excerpts:

“There are close ties among our peoples, whether in Iraq, Syria or Palestine. We have the same feelings, the same habits and the same pride. Look at Damascus. There are 500,000 refugees from the occupied Golan Heights, about 500,000 from Palestine and about 100,000 from Iraq living here. We tend to the needs of these people, but all we get from the West is rejection… There can be no peace in the Middle East without Syria. The Lebanon and the Palestinian conflicts are inextricably linked with Syria… Whenever you Germans come to Syria, you talk about freedom of opinion. Why don’t you allow me to have my opinion?… The majority of my people think the way I spoke… Israel occupies a part of my country–of course Israel is an enemy. If you want to play a role in our region, then you have to be able to see things from our point of view. That’s also true for the classification of Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist organization.’ That cannot remain so. In 2004, Germany played an important role during the prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah. That’s exactly the point: to work within the realities that exist in this part of the world…

“For us, the balance is important, and there, Europe is much closer to us than America. Europe knows our world… Germany is supposed to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah. History teaches us that nobody can prevent a resistance group from arming when it has the support of the people… As long as the public support for Hezbollah remains as high as it is today, yes, it is a Mission Impossible. The majority here sees the resistance against Israel as legitimate. I would advise the Europeans: Don’t waste your time, address the roots of the problem… As a resistance organization, Hezbollah has a right to arm itself–and they have more than enough weapons… I don’t say that Israel should be wiped off the map. We want to make peace–peace with Israel… But even my personal opinion, my hope for peace, could change one day. And when the hope disappears, then maybe war really is the only solution.”

Stripped of all the verbiage, Assad is making the following points: Syria and Hezbollah want to continue to play a major role in the Middle East. Europe and especially Germany should come to the help of the Arabs. They should cease supporting Israel and they should cease trying to secure peace through European ground troops and a navy, as this endeavor will fail. These are interesting concepts, in light of Biblical prophecy. Make sure to tune in to our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Europe and the Muslim World.”

Germany’s “Grand Coalition” Is NOT Working!

On September 26, Der Spiegel Online wrote:

“Less than a year after Chancellor Angela Merkel came to power, all pretence [of being] at harmony in her left-right coalition has evaporated… most commentators agree that the first ‘grand coalition’ in four decades isn’t working, and there’s little Merkel can do about it. The government’s main project so far, a reform of the health service, is unravelling months after the two parties reached a messy compromise… SPD members… are flirting with the opposition liberal Free Democrats, even though they have even less in common with the pro-market, tax-cutting party than with the conservatives. A ‘culture of mistrust’ has taken hold in the coalition…

“Mutual dislike and fundamental disagreements on policy are coming out with a vengeance after being hidden for months behind a façade of harmony. Surveys show the Germans want the government to stop bickering and get on with gentle reforms that don’t cause anyone too much pain… Voters are getting turned off by internal disputes they see as motivated by ‘vanity, power politics or excessive self-interest,’ mass circulation daily Bild said in a Tuesday commentary… One of the main internal critics of the health reform, Bavarian state premier Edmund Stoiber, told a meeting of his Christian Social Union party on Monday that if compromise talks fail ‘it will be the end of the government.'”

On September 24, Bild am Sonntag developed an interesting scenario. According to the paper, new elections are not to be expected, as both major parties (SPD and CDU) would lose. But SPD, FDP and the Green party could call for a parliamentary “no-confidence” vote against Angela Merkel, and with their combined votes, SPD party leader Kurt Beck could become the next German Chancellor. Even though this scenario is highly speculative, it shows the German perception of a totally incompetent Grand Coalition.

Bulgaria and Romania Will Join the EU

On September 26, 2006, Der Spiegel Online reported the following:

“Fewer than three years after the European Union grew by 10 new countries in May 2004, the club is set to add two new members. The European Commission on Tuesday recommended that Bulgaria and Romania be allowed in on Jan. 1, 2007 as planned. But in a move to address widespread concerns that the two countries are not fully prepared for membership, the Commission has tacked on an unprecedented list of conditions the south-eastern European countries must meet to avoid being deprived initially of full membership benefits…

“The admission of the two countries will add some 30 million people to the EU’s present population of around 450 million and push the club’s borders east to the Black Sea. Both countries, however, are relatively poor — with economies only one third the size of the EU average — and both have struggled to bring rampant corruption under control. Money laundering and organized crime are of particular concern in Bulgaria. The country has also been told it needs to amend its constitution to remove ambiguities about the independence and transparency of its judiciary. Billions of euros in EU aid may be withheld should adequate steps not be taken…

“The expansion is to be formally approved by EU leaders in October. Four countries — France, Germany, Denmark and Belgium — have yet to ratify the entry of the two countries but are expected to do so soon… The enlargement comes as Europe continues to struggle with its constitution, rejected by both France and the Netherlands in 2005. In a nod to concerns that the club cannot continue absorbing new members, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that Romania and Bulgaria will be the last countries admitted until the EU decides on how it wishes to move forward… Despite the comments, the EU urged Montenegro to continue working toward EU membership. The tiny Balkan country joins Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania and Ukraine on the list of EU hopefuls.”

European Unification is very much alive, and as the Bible clearly shows, a United States of Europe will become the most powerful entity on earth. But it should also be noted that ultimately, the EU will be ruled by ten “core” nations or groups of nations which will in turn give their authority to a very charismatic, political leader of “Assyrian” or German descent. When that happens, the return of Jesus Christ has drawn very near. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

No Disarmament of Hezbollah?

The Associated Press reported on September 27, 2006:

“Six weeks after the end of the Lebanon war, the militant Hezbollah group is facing little on-the-ground pressure to give up its weapons and disarm–despite a U.N. cease-fire resolution demanding just that. The leaders of a U.N. peacekeeping force in south Lebanon say the job is not theirs. And Lebanon’s ill-equipped army, some of whose soldiers wear tin-pot helmets and carry outdated M-16 rifles, shows no signs of diving into a confrontation with battle-hardened Hezbollah fighters…

“The commanders of the U.N. force say that under the resolution, their job is merely to assist the Lebanese army in regaining control of southern Lebanon and to ensure the area cannot be used for launching rocket attacks into northern Israel. Meanwhile, Lebanese security officials say the army’s mission in the south is based on what they call an ‘understanding’ with Hezbollah that the army will not search for and seize weapons, but only confiscate those shown in public.”

To nobody’s surprise, we should be able to see clearly that the present U.N. “peace plan” for Lebanon is not working. What will be happening next?

USA No Longer Number One

Britain’s “The Independent” wrote on September 27:

“The United States has lost its top slot in a global ranking of economic competitiveness published yesterday because of mounting concern among businesses over its budget deficit and crumbling faith in its institutions. The world’s largest economy fell from first to sixth place in the World Economic Forum’s annual survey that is based on interviews with 11,000 business leaders. The harsh verdict comes a week after the International Monetary Fund highlighted a US slowdown as the biggest threat to the world economy… It ranked just 69th out of 125 in terms of the basic health of its economy, with its health and primary education ranked 40th and the quality of its institutions 27th… Switzerland jumped from fourth last year to take the top slot, while Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Singapore all overtook the US. The rest of the top 10 was made up of Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.”

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