EU 'exit' prospects, First World War centenary and British jihadists - the papers
- 28 June 2014
There are striking similarities between many of Saturday's front pages, as they digest news that David Cameron failed in his attempt to prevent Jean-Claude Juncker being nominated for the role of European Commission president.
Several papers pick up on the PM's suggestion that it makes it more difficult for the UK to remain a member of the European Union, with the Times's headline summing things up by saying "Britain nears EU exit".
Some reports would make painful reading for the Conservative leader, who lost a vote on the matter 26-2. "Cameron crushed," is the Independent's verdict, while the Financial Times reckons his "principled stand" ended in "historic humiliation" and the Sun's Tom Newton-Dunn writes that "plucky Dave" was taught a "painful lesson".
The Daily Mirror's James Lyons is even less complimentary, arguing: "In Brussels, what he claimed was a principled stand was seen as a childish tantrum." And the Daily Mail reports a catty comment from German newspaper Bild which said: "Cameron is becoming the Wayne Rooney of EU politics: He lines up, he loses, he goes home."
However, turn a few pages and there is more support for the PM. The Times argues he was right to oppose Mr Juncker's appointment to the "bitter end", saying the ex-Luxembourg president "is on record as being against every necessary reform".
Likewise, the Daily Telegraph's editorial says: "Mr Cameron's opposition to Mr Juncker was entirely rational and reasonable." And the PM's former cabinet colleague, Liam Fox, writes in the Sun that Mr Cameron's stand proves that "he will fight [the] tyranny of Europe's red tape".
The Telegraph's Michael Deacon found the PM in bullish mood: "At least one man was prepared to stand up and applaud David Cameron for his efforts. Admittedly it was the prime minister himself, but in a tough old game like politics, you take praise wherever you can get it."
The result of it all, according to the Independent's editorial, is "the worst of all possible EU worlds", while the Guardian's Ian Traynor says the European Commission now has the "president nobody wants".
'Shots that changed world'
After reporting Mr Cameron's combative language in Brussels, the papers mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria - the incident that triggered the First World War - with many examining the 19-year-old who fired the shot, Gavrilo Princip.
The Daily Express revisits "the gunshots that changed history" in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which had been annexed by the Austro-Hungarian empire six years earlier but which neighbouring Serbia still regarded as its territory. Writer Simon Edge explores the love story between the archduke and his wife, Sophie, who died alongside him in the back of their car.
In modern-day Sarajevo, the Guardian's Andrew MacDowell finds division between the many, particularly Bosnian Croats and Muslims, who think of Princip as a coward who killed a pregnant woman and others - mostly Bosnian-Serbs - who still see him as "a revolutionary hero who fought for the freedom of all southern Slavs".
Tim Butcher, who spent three years researching Princip for a book, writes in the Times that the three communities view the Princip narrative "through the filter" of the Balkans conflict of the 1990s. He believes Princip's "naive hope" was that the assassination would inspire all local Slavs to rise up against their Austro-Hungarian occupiers.
In that respect, he says, the war was "based on a lie" - cooked up in Vienna - that he was acting for the Serbian government. "Princip was not a Serbian nationalist at all but a Yugoslav nationalist... Vienna's claim of Serbian involvement was but a fig leaf by Austro-Hungarian hawks to conceal their desire to invade a neighbouring country regarded as an irritant," Butcher writes.
Meanwhile, in the Daily Mirror, historian Andrew Roberts speculates as to what might have happened had Princip fired wide. The paper also traces a great-granddaughter of Franz Ferdinand, who lives in Twickenham, south-west London, who tells of the importance of passing on her ancestor's story.
In the Independent, editor Amol Rajan agrees that commemoration is important. "Now more than ever, we can best shape our future by learning from the follies of the past," he writes.
After Muslim preachers across the UK used Friday prayers to discourage youngsters from travelling to fight in Syria's civil war, papers raise questions over the efforts of authorities to halt extremism.
The Daily Telegraph reports that a "hardline preacher" from a Cardiff mosque linked to two men who appeared in a video encouraging Britons to become jihadists gave lectures at the city's Cathays High School. Messages reportedly included that both music and contact between boys and girls, were "not permitted in Islam". Cardiff City Council is quoted as saying it acted as soon as concerns were raised.
Meanwhile, the Independent's Cahal Milmo finds third and fourth-generation Muslims in the city wondering why their sons are being drawn to extremism.
In the Times, reformed extremist Maajid Nawaz - now a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate - tells Alice Thomson he was like the Cardiff students until he got locked up for being a member of a banned radical group. "In prison I changed, I realised I hadn't really been religious, I was just angry with the neo-Nazis and racists I had encountered on the streets of [his native] Essex," he's quoted as saying.
The Daily Mirror reports that a student from East Sussex has appeared in a video urging young Muslims to secretly leave home and help him wage holy war against Syrian government troops. Dr Natasha Ezrow, who lectures on radicalisation at the University of Essex, writes of the 20-year-old: "He speaks in a calm and assured manner but his naivety is glaring. Young men such as him face a series of unknowns and brutality. They are deluded to believe they are improving the human condition in Syria."
Another extremist is featured in the Sun, which says a former rapper posted a series of abusive tweets after finding out his family home in West London had been raided by anti-terror police. "They have nothing to do with this, they did not even know where I am. I haven't lived at home for years, you pagans," he reportedly wrote.
But the government is fighting back with its own propaganda video, according to the Independent. The paper says the Home Office has commissioned a film based on interviews with relatives of Britons killed in the Syria fighting to be shown in schools and mosques.
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