Germany: Facts on 'hijab martyr'

Germany: Facts on 'hijab martyr'

Last Wednesday, July 1st, Egyptian woman Marwa (el-)Sherbini was stabbed to death in a German court by German Russian Alex W.  Alex W. was in court after Sherbini sued him for insulting her.  In August 2008, W's child was swinging on a swing.  Sherbini asked W. if her child could use the swing and he turned on her, calling her "Islamist", "terrorist" and "bitch".  She sued him.  W. stabbed Sherbini when she came to court to testify against him.

For more on this story see here, here and here.

The incident is causing a lot of anger in Egypt, where people are taking to the streets in protest. 

There's a lot of stories going on about this incident, and so I'll try to put things straight.   

1. The issue of press coverage (or lack thereof) is drawing a lot of attention and accusations.  German news media reported about this story extensively already on Thursday.  However, they didn't mention the (full) name of the Egyptian woman who was killed, just as the attacker is only named Alex W.  The first English language news therefore used the Egyptian press for this information.

My experience is that news items tend to 'percolate' from local news through to the worldwide mass media.  In many cases I rush to translate a story, but within a few days it appears all over the English language news.  I reported about this story Saturday, based on an Expatica news report.  Since every news item about it now also mentions the accusations about the media not reporting it, it's hard to gauge how much this would have drawn attention otherwise.

2. Though Marwa is now called the "hijab martyr" in Egypt, her attacker never said anything about the hijab.  She was attacked for being Muslim. 

3. Marwa sued Alex for insulting her, not for physically attacking her.

4. Her husband, who rushed to intervene, was shot by a security guard.  There are accusations that the guard just assumed the non-German was the attacker, however the incident is still being investigated.  It is as likely that the guard, who was trying to stop a murderer, just missed. 

5. As far as I know, the attacker is being charged with murder, and not, as some have reported 'manslaughter'.

6. This is the second time this year that a murder took place in a German court. 

7. So far this year, one hijab-wearing Muslim girl was killed in Germany for not being Muslim enough.  Another 20-year old was killed for not being a virgin.  This follows up on dozens of cases in the past few years were Muslim women were killed by their Muslim family for not being Muslim enough.  As far as I know Sherbini's case is the first one in Germany (possibly in  Europe), where a woman is killed for being Muslim.

8. The murderer, Alex W., came to Germany from Russia in 2006.  He's as German as Sherbini.

9. Alex W. did not belong to any racist groups. 

10. Given the demonstrations against Germans in Egypt, maybe the German embassy should put out an advisory?  

11. Why are Sherbini's family calling for revenge against a man being held by the German authorities?

Sherbini's family have called for revenge following the deadly knife attack on Wednesday.

"If she was just stabbed once, I would have said this is a mad man, but the number of times she and her husband were stabbed reflects the extent of racism this man had in him," Tarek Sherbini, the victim's brother, said.

"Here in Egypt, we believe in 'an eye for an eye'. The least we expect is the death penalty for the murderer." 
[ed: Germany does not have the death penalty]


"We will avenge her killing," 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."

12. While Egyptians are upset at one murder in Germany, they might want to remember that German tourists have been attacked, injured, killed and abducted in Egypt, as recently as this year.

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