Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 4 May 2011 11:38 UK

Bin Laden killing: German unease over US reaction

By Stephen Evans
BBC News, Berlin

People in Times Square in New York celebrating on 2 May, 2011
Crowds of people celebrated the news in New York's Times Square

I have to say that my reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden was unequivocal and loud, though in the interests of impartiality, I shall decline to describe it further.

But after having a lucky escape in the South Tower just short of 10 years ago, I did come to see the attack on the World Trade Center as a personal attack, as an attempt to kill me - me among others, of course, but me.

The lasting memory from the day was of the destruction and the anguish and the grief, but also of the quiet outrage that grew among New Yorkers.

Friendship found

I remember going into the bar I frequented that evening and it was full, but still quiet and pensive.

The barman caught each newcomer's eye and then shook their hands with both of his.

And then I remember talking to those around me - familiar strangers, who shared an outrage that some alien man from far away had thought he and his henchmen could alter our ways of life.

Front page of a German newspaper with a photograph of Osama bin Laden on 3 May, 2011
The news of Bin Laden's death has dominated the press in Germany

I immediately bought a shirt with the stars and stripes on it, to signify not my American-ness, because I'm not American, but my solidarity with a people among whom I had found friendship.

And I bought a "Wanted Dead Or Alive" T-shirt with a picture of Bin Laden on it, though, I've never worn it, certainly not in Europe.

And certainly not in Germany, where there is a strain of anti-American feeling.

Let me say first of all, though, that the overwhelming German reaction to the killing of Bin Laden here has been one of approval - but with some hint of questioning.

On the approval side, the ultra-popular Bild could barely get a front page big enough to hold its headline: "Osama Bin Laden Tot!" - Osama Bin Laden dead - and then it spells it out: It was a "good day".

But elsewhere there have been grumblings.

Different take

Nobody I know thinks Osama Bin Laden was anything but a bad lot. And nobody says he shouldn't have been killed, but there is also among the people I've met a hint of carping about the excess of celebration in Times Square and at Ground Zero.

It plays, I think, into an anti-American-ness in parts of Berlin.

And remember, the death came the day after May Day, traditionally spent by the anarchists of Berlin in riot, though this year not as vigorously as previously.

The paper of the left in Berlin is the Tageszeitung - Taz, for short. It had a picture of wild, wild celebrations by ecstatic Americans on the front page. But its analysis is sober.

Its columnist says the death of Bin Laden isn't the death of terrorism, and who can doubt that less than a week after three men were arrested in Dusseldorf for planning, according to the prosecutors, to kill many people?

But then there's also a cartoon in the paper with a very different take.

It shows President Obama holding a placard saying "Obama killed Osama" and underneath the caption: "This makes re-election certain."

Is this a suggestion, I wonder, that killing Bin Laden was about crude politics in America?

I know what they'd make of that today, those people in that bar in Manhattan on the night of September 11, 2001.

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