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The theme of most foreign media reports on the Oklahoma City bombing was direct and directed: This is the end of the U.S. nonchalance on terrorism.

"Bomb ends complacency in `Anytown USA'," declared the Financial Times in London. London's Daily Mail wrote that America was finally realizing that "terrorism is no longer something that afflicts just the Middle East or Europe. America lectured other nations on terrorism. Now it must heed those lessons itself."

And Israel's Ma'ariv stated: "The Americans will understand that this is their war, that they're the great Satan, that the time has come to take off the gloves."

Yet, the Financial Times in London editorialized, "It would be a tragedy if a surge of understandable fury .*.*. were either to tempt the U.S. into endorsing any over-hasty crackdown on civil liberties, or to fuel a climate of xenophobia."

In France, Le Figaro looked back at terrorist strikes in Paris and in Europe over the last 15 to 20 years and discussed, somewhat condescendingly, tighter security, permanently heightened suspicions and increased power of the police that at times had shocked U.S. sensibilities long nurtured by a far more rigid Bill of Rights.

The analysis by the international media was mixed, with an outpouring of sympathy for the victims. But in the British Isles, there was also some criticism of President Clinton in light of his meeting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams last year.

Overall, media coverage was extensive. In some cases, such as in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, stories were picked up directly from U.S. newspapers. However, many international newspapers sent their reporters directly to the scene of the bombing. Le Figaro sent its Washington D.C.-based correspondents to Oklahoma City.

Italy's two leading national dailies, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera dedicated their main front-page headlines and the first two pages to the Oklahoma car bombing. La Repubblica's headline read: "America is terror." The paper's main editorial by commentator Furio Colombo explained the first reactions of U.S. officials and citizens to find themselves in a city "like Beirut."

Among most of the media, there was an understanding of the U.S. shock. "It will take the Americans time to digest the pictures of the destroyed building in the very heart of America," wrote Israel's Yediot.

The Israeli newspapers, particularly, reported on the first-reported connection of the bombing to Middle East terrorists. The stories noted that Oklahoma City is a center of Muslim activities.

And in Egypt, el-Wafd criticized reports in the British and Israeli press which they said attempted to pin the bombing on Muslims. One 29-year-old Egyptian man, after hearing an Arabic BBC radio report of the attack, commented that he would not be surprised if the Israeli Mossad was behind the attack. "Now the U.S. has tasted the terrorism too. It tastes nice, doesn't it?" he added sarcastically.

Contributing to this story: Margo Lipschitz Sugarman, Mary A. Kelly, Michelle McCarter, Lehka Rai, Bruce Crumley, Todd Pruzan, Laurel Wentz and Ivy Silverman.

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