Merkel defends reaction to bin Laden death

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman was forced Wednesday to defend her saying she was "pleased" at Osama bin Laden's death after the comments drew criticism, including from within her own party.

"This sentence should not be treated in isolation," Steffen Seibert told a regular briefing. "The motivation for her being pleased was that this man no longer poses a danger. The world will hopefully be a bit safer now."

He added that Merkel "appreciates that someone hearing just this one sentence -- and on television it was often only this sentence that was broadcast -- maybe found 'death' and being 'pleased' in the same sentence as inappropriate."

Merkel has said on Monday after US commandos shot dead the Al-Qaeda leader in a raid in Pakistan: "I am pleased that it was possible to kill bin Laden."

Several figures distanced themselves from the comments, including some from within her own conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

"From a Christian point of view it is definitely inappropriate to express pleasure about the deliberate killing of someone and their death," Ingrid Fischbach, deputy CDU parliamentary head, told the Berliner Zeitung daily.

Fischbach is also a member of the Central Committee of German Catholics.

"As a Christian I can only say that a targeted killing is no reason for celebration," Katrin Goering-Eckardt from the opposition Greens, head of the Protestant Church synod and a deputy speaker of parliament, told the paper.

"You can be be pleased that Osama bin Laden is no longer able to be a terrorist leader. But you cannot be pleased about his death."

Siegfried Kauder, the CDU's legal affairs spokesman, said he "would not have formulated" his reaction to bin Laden's demise the same way.

"These are thoughts of revenge that should not be fostered," he told the Passauer Neue Presse local daily.

Even Guido Westerwelle, deputy chancellor and foreign minister, voiced caution in the Die Welt daily about the West appearing excessively joyous about bin Laden's death.

"While it is understandable being relieved, we have to be careful about sending pictures out into the world of our reactions in the West that contribute to encouraging or making heroes of Al-Qaeda," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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