The late Marwa El-Sherbini with her husband and son. Photo copied from Europe-Turkmen Friendships, original source unknown.
This post is a tribute to an opponent - a Muslim woman killed in Germany. Different sources give slight variations in the details of the case. The large quote below is from Wikipedia:
"Marwa Ali El-Sherbini (October 7, 1977 – July 1, 2009) was an Egyptian pharmacist... She was killed during a hearing at a court of law in Dresden, Germany, by a man against whom she had testified after being insulted for wearing an Islamic headscarf.
El-Sherbini was... daughter of chemists... In 1995 she graduated from the El Nasr Girls' College, where she also acted as a student speaker. She was a member of the Egyptian national handball team from 1992 to 1999. From 2000 to 2005 she studied pharmacy at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Alexandria University, obtaining a bachelor's degree.
In 2005, El-Sherbini moved with her husband to Bremen in Germany. In 2008, the couple and their two year old son moved to Dresden, where her husband Elwi Ali-Okaz, a lecturer at Minufiya University, obtained a doctoral research position at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. At the same time, El-Sherbini worked at the University Hospital Dresden and at a local pharmacy, as a part of an accreditation scheme to practice pharmacy in Germany. Together with others, El-Sherbini founded an association (Eingetragener Verein) with the aim to establish an Islamic cultural and education centre in Dresden. At the time of her death El-Sherbini was three months pregnant with her second child.
In August 2008, Alex W. (a German citizen, born in Perm, Russia of German ethnic origin) shouted abuse at El-Sherbini in a public playground for children in Dresden, in a quarrel over the use of a swing by his niece and El-Sherbini's son. El-Sherbini, wearing an Islamic headscarf, was called an "Islamist", "terrorist" and "slut". Others present tried to intervene, but Alex W. continued the verbal abuse for several minutes until the police arrived at the scene...
Alex W. was charged with defamation, pressed by El-Sherbini, and found guilty by the district court of Dresden, issuing a fine of 780 Euro. During the trial Alex W. claimed mitigating circumstances for the act of insulting El-Sherbini, suggesting that "people like her" were not real humans and therefore cannot be insulted. The Public Prosecutor successfully appealed the verdict to achieve a higher conviction due to the openly xenophobic character of the incident.
At the appeal hearing at the regional court in Dresden, 1 July 2009, eight persons were present in the courtroom: a panel of one professional and two lay judges, the prosecutor, Alex W. as the defendant, his defence counsel, El-Sherbini as witness for the prosecution, and her husband and son as members of the public. No security personnel was present and no security searches of individuals and their possessions were carried out, common in cases without anticipated security concerns and with no persons under arrest present.
After El-Sherbini had testified, Alex W. strode across the courtroom and attacked her with a knife, by stabbing her 18 times while allegedly shouting "You don't deserve to live!". El-Sherbini's husband, Elwi Ali-Okaz, attempting to protect his wife was stabbed to the lung and hip area. A police officer, who was in the court building testifying in an unrelated case was called to the scene to intervene, but mistook Elwi Ali-Okaz for the attacker and shot him in the leg. Elwi Ali-Okaz... was in a coma for two days... El-Sherbini died on the scene... Alex W. is currently held... on suspicion of murder of Marwa El-Sherbini and attempted murder of Elwi Ali Okaz...
The killing was reported on 1 July 2009 in German radio and television and in print media on the following day. In line with common media practice regarding crime victims, due to stringent privacy laws in Germany, El-Sherbini was in the initial media reports only referred to as "a 32-year old witness". The Minister of Justice for Saxony... who had visited the crime scene on the same day, publicly expressed condolence to the "young woman and her family"... The Association of Judges in Saxony (Sächsischer Richterbund) demanded a review of security procedures in court buildings. According to the British media, the German media initially reported on the case at "the back page", and only in the light of the vociferous protests by thousands of Egyptians in Cairo against an apparent "Islamophobia", the German federal government, which had kept silent for nearly a week, issued words of sorrow...
On 6 July 2009, at El-Sherbini's funeral, in Alexandria, mourners referred to her as a "martyr of the head scarf"... Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the German goverment for El-Sherbini's murder and called for international condemnation of Germany.In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded firm action against Germany and stated that "there is a strong view that the crime was a pre-planned attempt engineered by the judicial system and security forces"."
Now, my thoughts about the case.
In line with the good tradition not to criticize the dead (especially if they have suffered a horrible and violent death), I won't comment on Ms. El-Sherbini - not in this post at least. However, while I may disapprove the victim's behaviour, I am utterly disgusted by the murderer. (May I omit the mandatory "alleged"? Thank you.) Not only because he is a murderer, and motivated by hate, but also because he is a narcissistic psychopath feeling entitled to decide who deserves to live and who doesn't. And what disgusts me even more (though I may show sexism here) is that he is a man and he chose a woman as his victim. I strongly hope and expect him to receive the maximum sentence existing in German law.
From the reactions to the murder, most impressive is the grotesque cynicism of the Iranian regime and its leader Ahmadinejad. Apart from the above mentioned official letter to the UN, Iranian authorities allowed and encouraged (if not ordered) public events to commemorate El-Sherbini and progest against Germany. You can see e.g. a photo of a symbolic funeral of Marwa El-Sherbini in Tehran on a post by German immigrant blogger Rose-Anne Clermont. In other words, anti-government protests are banned, but if you folk still feel like protesting, you are welcome to rally in front of the German embassy... I wonder, do Ahmadinejad's thugs really think that if they shed crocodile tears about Marwa, this will make their people forget Neda and all other innocent, freedom-loving Iranian women and men murdered by the regime? I fully agree with Azarmehr that this is hypocrisy beyond belief.
Most of the reactions in Egypt were also, to my opinion, far-fetched (to say the least). However, I prefer not to report them here. I hope that Egyptian people were just venting their shock, grief and anger in words without contemplating any actions. And as days are passing and we aren't hearing of any revenge against Germans, this explanations seems more and more probable. I hope also that I won't have to correct myself here.
Briefly, the weird accusations and conspiracy theories rotate around two facts - that nobody stopped Alex W. from stabbing Marwa 18 times and that the policeman shot Marwa's husband instead of the attacker. I would ask Muslims and their Western leftist friends (e.g. at the Guardian) to lighten up a little and call their common sense. Few are the heroes who, seeing an armed homicidal maniac in action, would rush to stop him and risk becoming his next victim. And it is so natural for police to make mistakes in disastrous, split-second situations. I have heard of quite a few hostage release operations where police have shot bystanders and hostages instead of the kidnappers.
However, there is a point where I fully agree with my Muslim opponents and wish to give them a shoulder. This is the way the crime was initially reported - at the back pages of newspapers, with headlines that didn't mention a word that it was a hate crime and the victim was a Muslim. I borrowed such a headline from Die Welt, Accused stabs witness to death in courtroom, as a title for this post. Doesn't it sound absurd? I found it in a post by a blogger trying to prove that German media did report the case timely and properly. If you are defending the wrong opinion, the usual result is that the more you put "arguments" for it, the more its wrongness is exposed.
Muslims and Leftists were quick to say that the murder of a Westerner by a Muslim would receive far more publicity, and cited the case of Theo van Gogh. To me, this example is irrelevant because van Gogh was already a celebrity when he was murdered. When the Western or "Western wannabe" victim has been an ordinary person, I have observed absolutely the same pattern of ignoring the case and its hate motivation, sweeping it under the carpet and reporting it in the back pages with the smallest font available. Just remember Kriss Donald, Ilan Halimi and Aqsa Parvez. In fact, the headline from Die Welt immediately brought to my memory the (in)famous Washington Post headline about Aqsa Parvez's murder: Canadian teen dies; father is charged.
Hate crimes are an important thing, especially during a global war. And they must be reported. At least I think so. One can say that straight reporting of hate crimes may perpetuate the hard feelings, trigger revenge actions or make some people emulate the culprit. All this may be true, but still I think that sweeping such cases under the carpet does more harm. And I would appeal to all my opponents to defend free speech and honest reporting. Because you never know when you will be the person needing it.