The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged germany
German minister calls for Egypt aid suspension

Egypt's opposition calls for new protests on |

From a German press report, machine-translated below :

German Development Minister Dirk Niebel feared in his own words that Egypt slips under President Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood in a dictatorship. There was a risk that the dictatorial Mubarak system auflebe with other people, he said, the "Berliner Zeitung". Given the uncertain conditions in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, an unstable Egypt is a huge security risk beyond the region.

According to Niebel, the German government restricted until further notice, the government contacts with Egypt. So, he wrote about the government canceled negotiations on development co-operation that should take place in mid-December. The planned partial debt relief of up to 240 million euros would be postponed, announced the Minister. "It is in the hands of the Egyptian government," said the FDP politician.

Meanwhile, complete silence from the EU, Catherine Ashton and most member states.

Germany trained Libyan forces, provided jamming equipment
Looks like the Germans provided the jamming equipment used by the Qadhafi regime in recent days, as well as special forces training. Not a nice way for the German military to regain importance.
No sooner was the embargo lifted, than German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder landed in Tripoli with an entourage of 25 businessmen. In passing he praised what he called the 'political change' in Libya. But his main reason for visiting was the promotion of German business. Openly so, and with the support of much of the German political spectrum, from his own center-left SPD, through the pro-business FPD to the conservative CDU. So he shook hands, made introductions, closed deals. He was photographed in an elaborate tent, and at an oil well, looking equally out-of place in both locations.

What didn't emerge until four years later was that, alongside oil and engineering negotiations, Schroeder was fixing up a deal whereby elite German commandos would train the Libyan security services.

This caused controversy when it emerged in 2008. Not as military support for a dictator -- the €43m of German jamming equipment bought by Libya in the last 2 years has raised few eyebrows -- but because it was coming being provided by German security personnel.
In fact, the Byzantine structure of the deal shows everybody knew they were bending the rules to breaking point. The German officers would receive €15,000 each, paid by a private security firm which in turn got a €1.6m cheque from Libya. They would take time off from their elite anti-terrorist unit. Their superiors thought they were vacationing in Tunisia, though the German embassy in Libya knew their real purpose. The officers set up shop in a barracks in Tripoli, where for 6 months they taught their Libyan counterparts how to storm buildings, board ships and operate out of helicopters.
Also, this is a piece on the last four years of Franco-Libyan rapprochement including Sarkozy's attempts to sell him the Rafale.
Sarrazin against the Saracens

The Saturday Profile - Thilo Sarrazin -

THIS quiet, orderly man, who lives in a quiet, orderly house, in a very quiet tree-lined neighborhood has caused a huge public stir here with his volatile book arguing that Muslim immigrants in Germany are socially, culturally and intellectually inferior to most everyone else.

With the certainty of an accountant adding up rows of numbers, Thilo Sarrazin has delivered his conclusion in a book that has sold over one million copies, forced him to quit his job at the German central bank, may get him kicked out of his political party and for the first time since World War II made it socially acceptable in Germany to single out a particular minority for criticism.

By former Cairo correspondent Michael Slackman, incidentally — so that's what he's up to! He has some some great quietly devastating passages in this piece, such as:

Mr. Sarrazin greeted a visitor to his home one morning, during a rare lull in his schedule of book readings and television and radio appearances. His living room has lots of books on shelves, a few paintings and prints on the wall and a large flat-screen television. There are no personal touches, no family photographs, though he says his hobby is photography.

“Some have said I argue that the achievements of immigrants from Muslim countries are lower because of genetic reasons; this is quite wrong,” Mr. Sarrazin explained, as if to cast off any taint of prejudice. “It has to be a matter of culture, and Islam is that culture.”

Mr. Sarrazin says his book can be boiled down to a few main ideas. To begin, ethnic Germans are having too few children, while Muslim immigrants are having too many. In a population of about 82 million, there are about four million Muslims (a number he said he calculated partly by looking at census figures for families with lots of children. Big families must be Muslim, he concluded). Within 80 years, he said, Muslims will make up a majority in Germany.

Second, Mr. Sarrazin believes that intelligence is inherited, not nurtured, and since Muslims are less intelligent (his conclusion) than ethnic Germans, the population will be dumbed down (his conclusion).

Third, to solve a growing demographic problem, Germany will require immigrants, but he says that bringing more Muslims into the country will only make matters worse. He says that after examining three indicators — success in education and employment, and welfare dependency — he concluded that Islam is by its nature a drag on individual success.

Beware of narrow-minded Germans following their thinking to its logical conclusion! 

Bibi is on a roll
As the always excellent Phil Weiss puts it, Bibi Netanyahu is on a roll. First he called David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel "self-hating Jews", and then, in a conversation with the German foreign minister, he said the West bank should not [edit, see comments] become "Judenrein", the Nazi word for "cleansed of Jews".

Asked how Germany's top diplomat responded to hearing the Nazi Holocaust term for areas "cleansed of Jews," the confidant said, "What could he do? He basically just nodded."

(Follow Phil's links for the details.)

Which brings Germans to mind. Sixty years after World War II, they still have to suffer, financially and politically, from crimes most of today's Germans had nothing to do with. It is among the most progressive countries in the world, yet when it comes to Middle Eastern diplomacy it must accept whatever Israel says or be subject to emotional and political blackmail. If you look at the recent internal EU talks about whether the advanced status process for Israel should be frozen in light of the Gaza War, they can't do the right thing (mind you they are not the only ones: Britain is also very bad in this regard). I remember talking with a Middle East hand at the German foreign ministry a few months ago, asking them what they thought they could do to push along the peace process. He looked at me and said, "We are Germany. Our hands are tied." Behind the scenes, they have some innovative ideas, breaking away from the Atlanticist (US-UK, pro-Israel) approach to peacemaking and in some respects more in line with the more enlightened European countries. But politically, they will immediately be subject to a campaign of abuse — after all if Ariel Sharon in 2004 dismissed France as having 1930s levels of anti-Semitism, imagine what fun the likes of Bibi would have with Germany.
On Marwa al-Sherbiny
Michael Collins Dunn blogs about Marwa al-Sherbini, an Egyptian woman murdered in Germany, and the outrage her death has caused in Egypt, so I don't have to:

Sherbini was a young (32 years old) mother killed in a German court — yes, in an open courtroom during a judicial sesssion — in Dresden July 1 in front of her three-year old son. She was stabbed (18 times) in the courtroom by a xenophobic German who had previously attacked her as a "terrorist" for wearing hijab, leading her to lodge a complaint against him. He was appealing a fine when he stabbed her. Adding insult to injury, when her husband sought to protect her from her attacker, the security in the courtroom shot the husband, not the attacker. (As one person notes in one of the links, "he wasn't blond so he must be the attacker.") And to add more insult to that one, the prosecutor initially charged the attacker with manslaughter (for stabbing someone 18 times in an open courtroom?). (Now there are reports the charge will be changed to murder.)

Oh, sorry, now it appears she was also pregnant with her second child. And why, exactly, are people outraged? Oh, right. All these reasons.

It's received very little coverage in Europe or the US, and that fact as well as the crime itself has outraged the Egyptian street to a remarkable degree. Her body was met at Cairo airport; thousands reportedly turned out for her funeral in Alexandria. Everyone from the Sheikh al-Azhar on down to the most secularist bloggers are expressing concern. The Egyptian blogosphere has been awash with postings, many noting that the killing of Neda Soltan in Iran (by the government, admittedly) led to Western outrage, while the killing of a Muslim mother in a European courtroom by a man clearly motivated by hatred of Islam and Muslims, is ignored.

I first noticed the Egyptian outrage about Marwa on Twitter, where the #marwa tag has been popular in recent days. Most of the complaints are about her death is not covered in the "MSM", the stupid inaccurate blogo-acronym for mainstream media. Except that it is being thoroughly covered by the Arab media, so the complaints are, I suppose, about how it's not dislodging Michael Jackson's death and Sarah Palin's resignation from the top items. And about how there's a double-standard about her death compared to Neda Agha-Soltan's death. Except of course the latter took place in the middle of the biggest protests in Tehran in decades, as part of a story on potential massive political fraud and a hardline coup in Iran, at a time when the country is perhaps the biggest story of the year. And her agony was caught on camera.

So really we're looking at more "clash of civilizations" style victimhood. Of course the Marwa al-Sherbiny case is outrageous, it is a racist murder that took place in courtroom. But do we have to compare it to other news stories? And do we have to ask that the mainstream media in the West (which I advise to simply stop watching, at least TV) cover it? There are countless racist murders and attacks around the world all the time. This one is particularly nasty, but is the most important thing to do about it protest in front of the German embassy in Cairo (as if the German government is responsible) or complain that it's not covered on CNN (although there was excellent coverage on al-Jazeera English)? Is it not enough that it's a major story in most Arab media?

Also see this BBC report.

Update: I knew this post would upset people (see comments), and that was not my intention. As I said, it was a horrible crime. But by your logic, then I will say that Egyptians are racist against Egyptians: in 2007, I don't remember much of a fuss being made about a 13-year-old boy tortured by police in Mansoura and who ended up dying in his mother's arms a few days later. Or does it only matter when an Egyptian gets killed abroad?