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SPOTLIGHT: LONE WOLVES OF ISIS

The Islamic State terror group (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for two terrorist attacks in the past two days: a mass shooting at a gay nightclub early Sunday in Orlando, Florida, and a targeted stabbing of a police officer and his wife near Paris late last night. But while the attacks are in no way linked, and almost certainly not coordinated by ISIS leaders, they are nonetheless connected. Both cases highlight the new security challenge of our time, as ISIS uses the Internet to radicalize potential followers, and encourages them to strike when and where they want. With lone wolves aiming at soft targets, day-to-day prevention becomes an almost impossible task. Here are the latest details.


FRANCE ATTACK

  • The 25 year-old attacker, identified as Larossi Abbala, stabbed to death a police captain and his wife, also a police department employee, in their home in a Paris suburb, before being killed by a SWAT unit. The couple’s three-year-old son was rescued in the operation.
  • Abbala, from nearby Mantes-La-Jolie, was already convicted in 2013 for "criminal association with the aim of preparing terrorist acts."
  • Within hours, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Abbala reportedly has ties with jihadist groups in Pakistan, and swore allegiance to ISIS in a live Facebook video, according to RFI journalist David Thomson.
  • The attack was "undeniably a terrorist act," French President Francois Hollande was quoted as saying in a speech in Paris today.

ORLANDO ATTACK

  • An employee at the Pulse nightclub told CNN that the gunman, Omar Mateen, had visited the club twice a month over a period of three years. Conflicting portraits of the killer of 49 are emerging, with Mateen being described as “friendly” by some, while other customers remember him as drinking alone and being “loud and belligerent,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, Mateen had also been using a gay dating and chat app.
  • The FBI is investigating why a 10-month probe of Mateen three years ago was closed, and what signs may have been missed of his potential for violence, the Washington Post reports.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY


BAHRAIN CRACKDOWN

Bahrain has suspended Al-Wefaq, the country's largest Shiite political group, and frozen its assets, as part of a large crackdown on activists, AP reports.


BREXIT BEGETS BAD BONDS

Brexit fears and concerns over the state of the global economy have led interest rate on 10-year bonds issued by the German government to turn turned negative for the first time, Germany’s Tagesschau TV news service reports.


PTSD PISTORIUS

Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius attended the first day of his sentencing hearing at the High Court in Pretoria yesterday. See how South African daily The Star featured his “broken spirit” on its front page today.


TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE

A third of the world’s population are either undernourished or overweight, the 2016 Global Nutrition Report finds. According to this annual independent overview, at least 57 countries suffer from serious levels of both undernutrition and obesity.


VERBATIM

“I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting. Quite the opposite, well done boys, keep it up!,” Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian soccer union’s executive committee wrote yesterday on Twitter Dozens of violent Russian hooligans are being escorted to the airport and deported from France after repeated scenes of violence before and after Euro 2016 games, BBC reports. The clashes with England supporters in Marseille on Friday led UEFA to issue Russia a suspended disqualification today, meaning that the country would be disqualified from the competition in case of “incidents of a similar nature.”


â€" ON THIS DAY

Che Guevara, Munich, Stars and Stripes â€" all are in today’s 57-second shot of History.


BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD

Osteria Francescana, a restaurant in Modena run by chef Massimo Bottura, has earned the top spot on this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants announced last night in New York, Italian daily La Repubblica reports. It’s the first time in the 14 years of the prize’s existence that an Italian restaurant arrives first.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Other cities ban prostitution from residential areas with schools and playgrounds. Not Berlin. Here, it's just part of the city's “poor, but sexy” image: “Residents and business executives ask for an exclusion zone, or at least a closing time â€" a hopeless fantasy. Politicians in Berlin pride themselves on their liberal attitudes toward sexuality,” Die Welt’s Michael Behrendt writes. “Bald pimps in Adidas sweatpants step out of cars with Bulgarian or Romanian license plates. They stand, legs apart, watching over ‘their’ girls, rebuking them if necessary. Sex is a round-the-clock business. Girls who dance on tables by night are found on the streets at any time of the day. Drugs are part of the daily business. There are about 2,000 prostitutes working in Berlin, according to police estimates. Other cities at least rely on restricted zones to keep the industry away from schools and residential areas, but not so the German capital.”

Read the full article, City As Brothel, How Berlin Let Prostitution Spread Near Schools.


ALF ACTOR DIES

Michu Meszaros, the 2-ft 9-in tall Hungarian actor in the costume of everybody’s favorite alien ALF, has died at age 76. Cats everywhere can now rest easy.


MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD

Hanging On â€" Xuankong Temple, 1995


â€" MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

CLOSING THE FRIDGE DOOR

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s tweet, in response to a disgruntled refrigerator user, is pretty cool.

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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