But Mata Hari was not what she seemed. Her real name was Margareta Zelle and she was born in the Netherlands not the Far East. During World War One she took on another role: that of spy for the German secret service. But her luck ran out. On October 15th, 1917, Mata Hari was executed after being exposed by French counter intelligence.
The name Mata Hari means ”sun”. But in which language? You can email us your answer. The address is mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Or write to us via snail mail at the European Desk, Deutsche Welle Radio, Bonn, Germany.Listen to the report:
Rachid Ramda went on trial this week in Paris for allegedly helping to fund a string of deadly terror attacks 12 years ago in the French capital. Prosecutors say the Algerian man was the financier of the 1995 subway bombings that killed eight people and injured 150. Ramda was based in Britain during the attacks, and was arrested soon afterwards at the request of the French authorities. He then spent 10 years in British custody while France and the UK argued over his extradition.
Probably no other First Lady in the world has been at the center of so much controversy this year as Ayrünissa Gül, the wife of the new Turkish president. The fact that Mrs Gül, as an orthodox Muslim, insists on wearing a headscarf is seen by many in Turkey as a threat to secularism. So you might not expect Mrs Gül to draw extra attention to her wardrobe. But she clearly enjoys fashion - and in fact, for her latest outfits she went to a Turkish designer who's made clothes for top Hollywood celebrities.
The headscarf issue is not only controversial in Turkey. In France, Germany and other parts of Europe the question of wearing a headscarf in school - be it as a student or teacher - often raises the question of whether Muslims are integrated here in Europe. But it's the construction of mosques that's stirring up more debate than any other integration issues. Major mosque projects from Marseille, to Amsterdam, Seville, London and Cologne have met with fierce opposition. Some fear these new mosques will serve as a breeding ground for extreme Islamic views and possibly terrorism. Cologne is famous for its religious architecture, including Germany's most spectacular Gothic cathedral. But this medieval cathedral may soon share the skyline with Germany's biggest mosque. Plans are well under way to construct a mosque featuring two minarets more than 50 meters high and these plans are highly controversial.
The winners of this year’s Right Livelihood awards were announced in Sweden this week. Dubbed by the Swedish press as the alternative Nobel, this year’s prizes are awarded to individuals and organisations working in fields as diverse as anti-nuclear campaigning; conflict resolution and the promotion of solar energy. Ole von Uexkull is the Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation. Here's what he had to say about laureate Christopher Weeramantry, a renowned Sri Lankan legal scholar.
Ukrainians went to the polls last weekend, to finally settle months of deadlock between pro-Western and pro-Russian parties. Election results so far show big gains for the Orange coalition parties of Yulia Tymoshenko and Victor Yushchenko. Here's the Briefing from Brussels with a full round up of EU news.
We've heard a lot about declining populations and a graying Europe. But now there's an interesting new development in Poland as the country is experiencing something of a baby boom. Statistics show the generation born in the early 80's is increasingly starting to have families. So why are Poles suddenly discovering parenting?
This webpage receives support from the European Union