Egyptian Pregnant Doctor Murdered in German Court for Wearing Hijab

German courtroom killer allegedly driven by hate of Muslims

Image: Crowds at Egyptian funeral procession
Thousands
of Egyptians surround the coffin of a 32-year old pregnant woman who
was stabbed to death in Germany as she was about to testify against a
man who allegedly called her an Islamist. 
Nasser Nouri / AP

updated 3:37 p.m. ET July 6, 2009
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CAIRO
– Egyptians are horrified by the brutal slaying of a pregnant Muslim
woman stabbed repeatedly inside a German courtroom, calling what they
see as a lack of outrage in Germany evidence of racism and anti-Islamic
sentiment.

On
Monday, thousands of mourners marched behind the coffin of Marwa
al-Sherbini, 32, in her Mediterranean hometown of Alexandria where her
body was buried after being flown back from Germany.

“There
is no god but God and the Germans are the enemies of God,” chanted the
mourners, while others carried banners condemning racism. Her brother Tarek el-Sherbini told The
Associated Press by telephone from the mosque where prayers were being
recited in front of his sister’s coffin. “In the West, they don’t
recognize us. There is racism.”

Courtroom erupts into violence
Al-Sherbini,
who was about four months pregnant, was involved in a court case
against her neighbor for calling her a terrorist and was set to testify
against him when he stabbed her 18 times inside the courtroom in front
of her 3-year-old son.

Her
husband, who was in Germany on a research fellowship, came to her aid
and was also stabbed by the neighbor and shot in the leg by a security
guard who initially mistook him for the attacker, German prosecutors
said. He is now in critical condition in a German hospital, according
to al-Sherbini’s brother.

“The
guards thought that as long as he wasn’t blond, he must be the attacker
so they shot him,” al-Sherbini told an Egyptian television station.

The
man, who has only been identified as 28-year-old Alex W., remains in
detention and prosecutors have opened an investigation on suspicion of
murder.

Driven by a deep hatred
Christian
Avenarius, the prosecutor in Dresden where the incident took place,
described the killer as driven by a deep hatred of Muslims. “It was
very clearly a xenophobic attack of a fanatical lone wolf.”

He
added that the attacker was a Russian of German descent who had
immigrated to Germany in 2003 and had expressed his contempt for
Muslims at the start of the trial.

At
its regular news conference on Monday, a German government spokesman
Thomas Steg said if the attack was racist, the government “naturally
condemns this in the strongest terms.”

The
killing has dominated Egyptian media for days, while it has received
comparatively little coverage in German and Western media.

‘Meager’ response from government, media
A German Muslim group criticized government officials and the media for not paying enough attention to the crime.

“The
incident in Dresden had anti-Islamic motives. So far, the reactions
from politicians and media have been incomprehensibly meager,” Aiman
Mazyek, the general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims, told
Berlin’s Tagesspiegel daily.

Egyptian
commentators said the incident was an example of how hate crimes
against Muslims are overlooked in comparison to hate crimes committed
by Muslims against Westerners. Many commentators pointed to the uproar
that followed the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a
Dutch-born Islamic fundamentalist angry over one of his films
criticizing the treatment of Muslim women.

Abdel
Azeem Hamad, chief editor of the independent Egyptian daily el-Shorouk,
said that if the victim had been a Jew, there would be have been in an
uproar.

“What we
demand is just some attention to be given to the killing of a young
innocent mother on the hands of fanatic extremist,” he wrote in his
column.

An Egyptian blogger Hicham Maged, wrote “let us play the ‘What If’ game.”

“Just
imagine if the situation was reversed and the victim was a Westerner
who was stabbed anywhere in the world or — God forbid — in any Middle
Eastern country by Muslim extremists,” he said.

The Egyptian Pharmacists’ Association called for a boycott of German drugs.

According
to numerous interviews in Egyptian local papers with el-Sherbini
family, the man who stabbed al-Sherbini used to accuse her of being a
“terrorist,” and in one incident, he tried to take off her headscarf.

Victim couldn’t find work
Laila
Shams, al-Sherbini’s mother, told the el-Wafd daily that her daughter
said she’d difficulty finding a job in Germany because of her head
scarf.

“One (employer) suggested she remove her head scarf to get a job. She said no,” she said.

Officials
from a German Muslim group and the country’s main Jewish group made a
joint visit Monday to the Dresden hospital where the victim’s husband
is being treated.

“You don’t have to be a Muslim to act against anti-Muslim behavior, and
you don’t have to be a Jew to act against anti-Semitism,” said Stephan
Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews.

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