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Phileleftheros - Cyprus | 18/12/2014

Politicians providing Pegida with fertile ground

The protests of the movement "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident" (Pegida) in Germany are gaining momentum. Their advance is also down to the fact that the politicians have ignored the topic of immigration for too long, contends the liberal daily Phileleftheros: "Some parties rashly claimed Pegida was flirting with nationalism and racism. However most of those who participate in the protests are not right-wing extremists or nationalists. ... The politicians aren't taking the citizens seriously. It's as if they can't understand their fears. And this is precisely why the calls of movements like Pegida find fertile ground. ... Until the parties start addressing the issue of immigration movements like Pegida will continue to flourish. Solutions for the open questions are needed, no matter how difficult or painful they may be." (18/12/2014)

Hürriyet - Turkey | 18/12/2014

Beşiktas fans may win coup trial

The trial against 35 fans of the Istanbul football club Beşiktas began on Tuesday. The "Çarşı" fan group is accused of planning to topple the government during the Gezi Park protests and its members face lifelong prison sentences. But the evidence against them is so flimsy that the politicians won't push through harsh punishment, columnist Kenan Başaran contends in the conservative daily Hürriyet: "On paper Çarşı neither has a chairman nor the structure of an association. You'll find many Beşitkaş fans on the street who describe themselves as Çarşı members, because Çarşı is not an association but a state of mind. ... I'm convinced that it won't be possible to prolong this trial and find evidence of a coup. The rest will be left to the politicians, but I doubt they are very interested in the Çarşı trial. It will probably end after two or three sessions with light punishments for the damage of public property." (18/12/2014)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 18/12/2014

Germany's road toll discriminating

The German cabinet on Wednesday approved the introduction of a road toll in Germany starting January 2016. A discriminating coercive measure, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung rails: "True, both Germans and foreigners will have to pay the toll. But Germans will then be able to offset the full amount against their vehicle tax. Neither the Swiss nor the Austrians will have such privileges for their road tax discs. Ultimately the fate of the road toll will have to be decided at the European Court of Justice. ... In view of record high tax revenues, Germany shouldn't have problems finding money for additional investments in its budget. ... But perhaps Germany could learn something from France, which has privatised its motorway network. The World Economic Forum gave France 4th place on road quality (while Germany ranked 13th). In any event one thing is clear: the road toll project borders on harassment - a fact the German government isn't willing to admit." (18/12/2014)

The Times - United Kingdom | 17/12/2014

Gay bishop after woman bishop, please!

The Church of England named the Rev Libby Lane as its first woman bishop on Wednesday. The conservative daily The Times welcomes her appointment but demands further reforms: "What the church does next will say a great deal about its capability and willingness to survive as a force in modern society. ... The church has also begun a thorny 'shared conversation' about sexuality that should, if it is sensibly conducted, result in the accession of the first openly gay bishop by the end of the decade. This next battle will be no easier but no less important. The manifold prejudices that rack the church will not subside until there are no 'women bishops' or 'gay bishops' - only bishops." (17/12/2014)

LRT - Lithuania | 17/12/2014

Islamophobia in Lithuania only helps the Kremlin

Lithuania's former defence minister Rasa Juknevičienė has posted a photo of a praying Muslim she took in a Washington airport on Facebook with the comment: "No doubt everything's fine, but certain thoughts can't be suppressed." The online portal of the Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT warns: "The last thing we need right now is anti-Islam sentiment. Although there are very few Muslims in Lithuania, sociological studies show that the fear of them is growing. Very few Lithuanians have anything to do with Muslims in their daily lives, nevertheless they're sure they should be afraid of them. ... If we divide our society by fuelling religious, ethnic and other animosities, we shouldn't be surprised if we can't protect ourselves from external enemies like the Kremlin, which is rattling its sabre louder every day." (17/12/2014)

Blog Spiegelfechter - Germany | 17/12/2014

Politicians failed long before Pegida

German politicians are racking their brains to come up with an adequate response to the Pegida movement. But they themselves have been paving the way for the movement for years, Jörg Wellbrock complains in his blog Spiegelfechter: "Normally the participants of Pegida demonstrations should have been protesting for more, better paid jobs, for education, peace, fair trade and financial market regulation. Instead they're bewailing the decline of the West. ... Fuelling fears has always been an effective strategy, and when politicians lend their support to such ideas this allows a movement like Pegida to emerge and mobilise masses. The failure of our politicians is not a recent occurence, they failed long before anyone had ever heard of Pegida. They spread xenophobia in their own way, at times subtly, at times superficially, but always effectively. They draw attention to the problem of so-called 'social refugees' even though in reality such people barely play any role at all in society." (17/12/2014)

Gândul - Romania | 17/12/2014

Ponta dishonest even without doctorate

In a surprise move, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced on Tuesday that he would give up his controversial doctoral degree. But even his letter to the rector of Bucharest University Ponta is insincere, the Bucharest daily Gandul complains: "Victor Ponta has never so much as hinted that he did indeed plagiarise. He has never apologised and not even attempted a confession. He has attacked anyone and everyone who tried to bring his clear case of plagiarism to the public eye. ... He wailed and complained that he was the victim of political persecution, and slandered the university professors who had reached a clear verdict: Ponta cut and pasted his thesis together without naming his sources. ... Even now he still doesn't admit to plagiarism in his letter, nowhere does he apologize to the professors he accused of being biased against him." (17/12/2014)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland | 16/12/2014

Francis must be braver against Beijing

Pope Francis declined an invitation to meet with the Dalai Lama during the 14th summit meeting of Nobel Prize winners in Rome on the weekend without citing his reasons. Such timidity vis-à-vis Beiing is the wrong stance, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza criticises: "Francis wanted to protect Chinese Catholics and bishops, who are at times tolerated by China but at times are also forced to struggle for their faith underground. The Holy See is afraid that reckless moves like meeting the Dalai Lama could intensify the repression against Chinese Catholics. The Vatican continues to seek normalised relations with the Chinese even though this attitude has achieved little in the past. Such a tactic has its pros and cons. For example John Paul II met the Dalai Lama five times. ... Francis, by contrast, has done little on this score, even though otherwise he's admired for everything he does." (16/12/2014)

Berlingske - Denmark | 16/12/2014

Denmark struggling with failed integration

More than half of the respondents in a Gallup survey conducted in Denmark believe the tone in the debate over refugees has become too harsh. But there are simply already too many problems that need to be discussed, the conservative daily Berlingske argues: "Almost 50 percent of the immigrants from non-Western countries aged between 30 and 59 live on social benefits. This proves that the Danish social model is ill equipped to integrate foreigners on the labour market. The failure of the integration measures is apparent in many statistics. To bring up these problems is not to adopt an 'inhumane tone' in the debate. ... It is simply the observation that we face enormous challenges and that these challenges will grow as the influx of refugees increases." (16/12/2014)

taz - Germany | 15/12/2014

Peace movement seeks convenient bogeymen

Around 3,500 people demonstrated in front of the official residence of German President Joachim Gauck on Saturday, accusing Germany of pursuing a militarist policy. Both peace activists and supporters of the Vigils for Peace movement - which has repeatedly been accused of right-wing populism - took part in the protest. The two groups are united in their simplistic friend-foe mentality, the left-leaning daily taz writes: "Enlightened politics requires an ability to perceive and tolerate ambivalence. For example the fact that Putin is pursuing a Greater Russian policy in Ukraine on the one hand and that the West has shown too little consideration for Moscow's security interests on the other. At these winter peace demonstrations, by contrast, good and evil are clearly divided: US bad, Russia good. Basta. That's nothing more than the simplistic doctrine of an obsolete anti-imperialism. What fuels this movement is something pre-political: the desire for bogeymen." (15/12/2014)

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