Stories about Germany

How the Kamila Shamsie incident reflects Germany’s growing Israel problem

Last week, in a bizarre turn of events, the British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie was informed that she would no longer receive the Nelly Sachs Prize on account of the fact that Shamsie supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement. The withdrawal of the prize, which has been welcomed by some and was initially conferred upon Shamsie by the German city of Dortmund, speaks more about the lingering fault-lines which remain entrenched in Germany than it does about Shamsie’s personal politics.   But before one dives into this particular incident and how it is representative of a wider ...

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As a German, I am offended by Imran Khan’s comparison of Modi to Hitler

I wholeheartedly understand Imran Khan’s anger in light of India’s decision to revoke Article 370 in occupied Kashmir and plunge the region into chaos. After all, Imran had been advocating vociferously for increased dialogue between India and Pakistan, yet Narendra Modi‘s government did not reciprocate the sentiment. While Modi’s actions in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) undoubtedly deserve to be condemned by the international community, I feel that comparing the Indian prime minister to Adolf Hitler is rather extreme and unnecessary. As a German whose grandparents witnessed the barbaric acts unleashed by Hitler, and as someone who was made to study ...

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A Nazi satire, Disney takes the unconventional route with ‘Jojo Rabbit’

Disney is releasing a movie in which a zany version of Adolf Hitler feasts on a unicorn’s head. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, yet here we are. Taika Waititi has crafted a madcap adventure that is set during World War II in the shape of his upcoming satirical black comedy Jojo Rabbit. The project, perhaps incongruously, finds itself at Disney following the company’s recent acquisition of the now-defunct 21st Century Fox. Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, the film revolves around a nationalistic young boy, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), whose imaginary friend happens to be a silly incarnation ...

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Remembering Pakistan’s sacrifices for securing Europe’s freedom

In the November of 1989, ordinary Germans began physically tearing down the Berlin Wall whilst the soldiers of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) stood by doing nothing. Throughout Europe, communist regimes that had been imposed on largely non-consenting populations were falling. The global media remarked that all of this happened without a shot being fired, the exception being Romania where two shots were fired — one into the head of the dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and one into that of his wife. However, this seemingly neat and tidy story of how communism fell in Europe is rather illusory, because throughout the 1980s, there was ...

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9 times PM Imran Khan made us cringe and laugh our way through ‘Naya Pakistan’

There has hardly been a moment of peace over the past eight months since Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power, given the sheer number of controversies he has caused on a regular basis. Imran is famous for speaking extemporaneously and saying whatever comes to his mind; facts and reason be damned. It doesn’t help that his army of cult followers do not have the ability to think past his persona and move beyond the Kaptaan fan club. But Imran often moves beyond saying controversial things to making statements that are absolutely ridiculous, resulting not only in national embarrassment but also ...

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“Apna Time Agaya”: When Ranveer Singh painted the gullies of Berlin red

On February 9th, Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt premiered at Friedrichstadt-Palast as part of the Berlin Film Festival Berlinale’s Special Entry, and the city’s popular Friedrichstrasse district was buzzing with Bollywood fans. All the nearby bus, train, tram stations were filled with Hindi/Urdu speakers discussing the arrival of the stunning crew. The red carpet area of the cinema was decorated specially for the stars. Minutes before the film was scheduled to begin, Bollywood’s heartthrob Singh made his entrance along with the elegant Bhatt, both waving and smiling to frantic crowds of fans. Calm and collected ...

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Germany’s highest peak was beautiful, but Pakistan’s ‘majestic beasts’ are incomparable

My love for mountains grew last year when I got an opportunity to climb Baaushal Peak (5,720 metres) in Pakistan and became part of the first female expedition of the country. Mountain climbing still hasn’t garnered much attention in our part of the world, even though the natural beauty Pakistan has to offer is breathtaking and incomparable. I can say this with confidence because I recently climbed the highest peak in Germany known as the Zugspitze Peak (2,962 metres). There are more technical routes to the Zugspitze Peak but I decided that going through the Reintal Valley was my best ...

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Why working with the Austrian Mission in Pakistan was more than just another job

A few years ago, I was distractedly skimming through a pile of newspapers when suddenly my cup of tea fell over the classifieds section. It was there that I saw a job vacancy at the Austrian Embassy in Islamabad, and my life changed for the better. Seeing the ad took me back to my childhood, when my father was transferred to Frankfurt during the 90s. At the time, I was enrolled in a German school. Surviving on the streets of Germany without knowing the German language was a difficult task, especially during the early years of German reunification. But I ...

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Human Rights Day: What will you ‘celebrate’, Pakistan?

Every year, December 10th is marked as the Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that lists down basic human rights guaranteed to the population of the world. This year marks the 70th anniversary of this resolution. It is important to note that sustainable growth is not achievable until and unless the human rights of the world are protected. Besides commemorating 70 years of the resolution, we should vow to stand for the civil, economic, political and cultural rights of our people; after all, ...

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The phoenix of history: Nothing captured my heart like Berlin did

From the moment I stepped out of the Berlin Tegel airport on to the city that possesses one of the richest histories in the world, the air around me transformed. Compared to the noisy Karachi streets where each nook and corner is densely populated, streets in Berlin seem fairly less crowded. The very air reeked of its past, almost as if it is haunted by the disputes once started on this very land. When I entered my apartment in West Berlin, I was unaware of the significance of my position, its only days later when I realised that the East-West ...

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