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World reacts to Gabrielle Giffords shooting

Foreign press views Arizona shooting as product of deep divisions and heated rhetoric.

Gabrielle Giffords shooting
The U.S. flag flies at half-mast above the White House on Jan. 9, 2011 in Washington. U.S. President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-mast to honor the victims of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during the incident, remains in critical condition but is showing positive signs. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Global reaction to the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords focused primarily on the deep divisions inside the United States and the heated rhetoric that dominates its political discussions.

Many commenters in the foreign press around the world said they were little surprised given America's lax gun laws and recent history of mass shootings. Still other media outlets ignored the American tragedy entirely. 

GlobalPost correspondents have been closely following the story from Europe, to Africa, India and beyond. Here's a wrap of how the shooting is being deciphered and how it might affect America's reputation abroad:

View from Europe

America is not a terribly foreign country to most people in Britain. Response to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords mirrored that of the American public: shock, but not surprise. There has been no official response from British political leaders but press comment on the tragedy broke down along the same party lines.

The Daily Telegraph, a right-wing broadsheet newspaper popularly called The Daily Torygraph, was one of the first papers to weigh in. The Telegraph has long played a role in right-wing American politics and was an active participant in keeping some of the scandals surrounding the Clinton administration, like Whitewater, alive.

A blog post from its Washington Bureau Chief, Toby Harnden, went up on Sunday. Harnden took American liberal blogs to task for their haste in blaming the vitriolic language of right-wing politicians and commentators for the Tucson shootings. He pointed out that Jared Loughner doesn't seem to be a Tea party member.

"This is highly inconvenient for certain people on the Left so they ignore it. They would much prefer the shooter to have been a white male in his 50s," Harnden wrote.

A Telegraph editorial today linked the weekend shooting of Giffords with last week's assassination of Salman Taseer in Pakistan, noting that "occasionally, politicians risk their lives."

The Guardian has a substantial American readership among its 35 million plus monthly unique visitors. It's American-based columnist, Gary Younge, noted today that, "America is more polarized under Obama than it has been in four decades: the week he was elected gun sales leapt 50 percent year on year."

He added, "Where the right is concerned the marginal and the mainstream have rapidly become blurred."

The Times editorial called for U.S. politicians to use more "generous language." The paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is not known for the comity of expression used by its reporter/commentators.

The ultra-right tabloid Daily Mail found an angle for its celebrity-obsessed readers: "An American congresswoman who was shot in the head at point blank range in an apparent assassination attempt is a cousin of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, it was revealed today."

Probably the most interesting piece of analysis came, ironically, from the Telegraph's man in Washington during the Clinton years, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who noted that American economic recovery has stalled despite Wall Street's return to boom.

He writes, "Ben Bernanke’s 'trickle down’ strategy risks corroding America’s ethic of solidarity long before it does much to help America’s poor ... . It is no surprise that America’s armed dissident movement has resurfaced."

In other parts of Europe, the story has received slightly less attention. The French press is consumed by the murder of two Frenchmen murdered in Niger by an African subsidiary of Al Qaeda. The German press has major flooding along the Rhine to contend with.

But the lack of prominence given to the story could be down to this: For many in Europe, violence of the sort that occurred in Tucson on Saturday is almost expected in America.

By Michael Goldfarb in London

View from Asia

“American shocker!” screamed Thailand’s largest newspaper, Thai Rath, in its report on the Arizona attacks. Other Bangkok newspapers detailed the gunman’s obsession with currency and touched on his mental problems. But by and large, Asia’s pundits did not draw any deep insights about America from the shooting spree.

The past few years have proven that killing sprees are hardly an American phenomenon — even in nations with extremely restrictive gun laws.

Knives, hammers and hatchets were weapons of choice for attackers in the bizarre rash of school attacks in 2010, in which five different unrelated men killed primary school students between March and August. 

In Japan, where handguns are forbidden and associations with “aggressive” political

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/110110/gabrielle-giffords-shooting-tucson-world-reaction