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Society

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SOCIETY

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands | 20/01/2016

Fight against IS is not murder

A criminal investigation has been launched in the Netherlands against former elite soldier Jitse Akse, who is suspected of murdering IS fighters while fighting alongside the Kurdish YPG in Syria. The public outcry over the state's actions against Akse is understandable, the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad argues: "Akse's arrest was above all of a symbolic and legal policy character. …  It is being presented as an inevitable step in the framework of domestic criminal proceedings. Murder is simply forbidden, says the state, which is supplying weapons and soldiers to the very same end. The case may look different from a legal point of view, but from a moral standpoint? To follow this logic you need to be very erudite. In the fight against the IS, Dutch fighters want to prevent terrorist attacks (in Europe). In principle therefore, they are pursuing the same interests as the state. To prosecute them for 'murder' for doing so doesn't exactly make much sense." (20/01/2016)

El País - Spain | 20/01/2016

Volunteer's death weakens trust in drug testing

In the French city of Rennes a man who had volunteered for a drug trial died after taking the pain-relief medication on Sunday, while other volunteers have been left with permanent brain damage. The case must be thoroughly investigated to prevent a major loss of trust in these necessary test procedures, the centre-left daily El País stresses: "What needs to be clarified now is whether this was an unexpected side-effect related to dose or whether the batch administered to the volunteers had somehow undergone alterations. Right now the case is the subject of medical and legal investigations. But in any case it is vital that the investigations be carried out with maximum transparency to ascertain whether negligence was the cause or whether this was an inevitable accident. Because public trust in clinical trials depends on it, and we can't afford to lose that trust." (20/01/2016)

Corriere della Sera - Italy | 20/01/2016

Surreal debate about gay marriage in Italy

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi wants to put a draft law on legal recognition for same-sex partnerships which was introduced in parliament months ago to the vote in the next few days. The debate has become surreal, the liberal conservative daily Corriere della Sera comments acerbically: "It's all about one word: marriage. And woe betide anyone who complains about it. In this way language has become the last bastion against the law. Any mention of marriage is forbidden in the new law on recognition of homosexual partnerships. And it's definitely out of the question to give the partners the same rights as married couples enjoy. That would be unconstitutional, immoral and in fact nothing short of criminal. But if all parallels with marriage are taboo, what exactly is the law supposed to refer to? The funeral? In terms of clarity the 23 clauses of the law don't exactly seem to have been penned by a Tacitus; instead they come across as a linguistic balancing act." (20/01/2016)

The Independent - United Kingdom | 19/01/2016

Mandatory English classes for migrant women a good idea

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to make English courses for migrant women mandatory and if they fail the test after two and a half years they would face deportation. The centre-left daily The Independent finds the public outcry in response to Cameron's plan incomprehensible: "Being able to speak the language of the country in which you inhabit is a basic principle and expectation: not only is it a show of respect to the society in which you have settled, but it allows you to fully integrate yourself into said society, and further contribute to its culture. Women should never be trapped in subcultures simply because they lack access to the skills to get out. ... Deportation after a period of time if you do not learn the language is a harsh, but effective, way to ensure that people are gaining the skills that they require to live and contribute to British society." (19/01/2016)

Delo - Slovenia | 20/01/2016

Boost justice, prevent war

The yawning gap between the rich and poor must be closed, writes the centre-left daily Delo in reaction to the latest Oxfam report on inequality: "History teaches us that increasing inequality and economic insecurity undermine the social order and lead to radical reactions - both from the left and the right. It should be a warning to us that until now above all wars, revolutions and economic depression have re-established a greater balance of wealth among people in the past. To avoid such a scenario global changes of extreme proportions are needed. These changes would ensure more equality between the individual social castes, classes, genders and races." (20/01/2016)

La Vanguardia - Spain | 19/01/2016

Swedish police becoming a laughing-stock

In an internal circular letter issued last autumn by their press office police in Stockholm were banned from passing on details to the press regarding the origin or skin colour of offenders or suspects. Columnist Quim Monzó mocks the measure in the daily paper La Vanguardia: "No doubt soon they will start withholding information about whether the offender was thin or fat because if the latter is the case the Association of Overweight Individuals might issue a letter of protest. They'd also better hush up whether the attacker was over sixty, or else some old folks' home or another will get up in arms. And in cases of sexual aggression they won't state the attacker's gender so as not to be sexist. Newsreaders will report that in some place (the name of which  they prefer not to mention) a person (whose physical characteristics they also prefer not to mention) has just committed a crime the details of which they choose to withhold. And that will be followed by a call on anyone with information that could lead to the criminal's arrest to get in touch with the police and then not say anything at all." (19/01/2016)

The Irish Independent - Ireland | 17/01/2016

Ridiculous contortions after Cologne attacks

Politicians simply don't want to accept the reality of what happened on New Year's Eve in Germany, columnist Ian O'Doherty writes in the conservative daily The Irish Independent: "Sooner or later, liberals were going to have to make a choice between which group was more protected - women, gays or Islam. We now know they chose Islam. What other group would have politicians doing such ridiculous cart wheels to avoid confronting the ugly truth? Mass male sexual violence against women is so prevalent in North African cultures that it even has its own name, 'taharrush'. So why were people surprised it happened? More pertinently, why did the very people who so love to condemn male violence remain so silent for so long about this latest outrage?" (17/01/2016)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia | 16/01/2016

Dangerous trivialisation of sexual violence

The attacks in Cologne are being played down as a cultural trait for reasons of political correctness, the national conservative daily Neatkarīgā rails: "Even serious experts are now talking about rape as part of a cultural identity. A white rapist is a brutal attacker, but for a poor war refugee it's part of his culture, an exotic game known as Taharrush. Are we just going to sit back and watch these boys play while punishing others whose culture doesn't include such games with prison or chemical castration? A conspiracy of silence with which many people in Germany - the media included - have tried to hide the refugees' barbaric behaviour has now fallen apart like a rotten log. ... What do the politicians who are responsible for this chaos think? Their attempts to hush up the information in the media due to political correctness pose a threat not only to society but also to themselves." (16/01/2016)

Tportal - Croatia | 15/01/2016

New PM must finally learn proper Croatian

Croatia's future prime minister Tihomir Orešković grew up in Canada and has only been living in his native country for a few years. His poor knowledge of Croatian is increasingly making him the butt of jokes, the liberal web website tportal.hr observes: "Even during his inaugural speech he said 'buildings' meaning 'citizens', and on Wednesday he declared with aplomb that he wanted to look into how to boost indebtedness in the next couple of years. His language problems are becoming a problem for the public and media, who often have to explain, interpret or simply alter his comments so that the people can so much as understand their future prime minister. Some of his mistakes aren't so serious, but when he makes them when talking about such important topics as debt, economic growth, credit ratings and the like, both he and the nation are walking on very thin ice." (15/01/2016)

Suomenmaa - Finland | 15/01/2016

Vigilantes more dangerous than asylum seekers

In Finland a growing number of so-called vigilante groups are being formed with the declared intention of protecting women against assaults by asylum seekers. A dangerous trend, the ruling Centre Party's mouthpiece Suomenmaa comments: "The voluntary patrols that have already been founded in 20 communities are not the right response. … In a democracy, society is responsible for maintaining peace and order. It pays taxes to finance the authorities set up for this purpose. Only a system that is subject to state controls can be given the right to use violence. Voluntary vigilante groups fuel fears, rumours and prejudices. In the past the establishment of similar groups has only led to stupid acts and violence. They pose more of a threat for the Finns than the asylum seekers themselves." (15/01/2016)


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