Anger erupts over Dresden ′veil murder′ | NRS-Import | DW | 11.07.2009
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Anger erupts over Dresden 'veil murder'

The murder of an Egyptian woman in a German courtroom at the beginning of July is causing outrage among Muslims in Germany, Egypt and Iran. Muslims accuse the German government of playing down the matter.

A photo of Marwa al Sherbini is hung in front of Dresden's city hall on Saturday

A photo of Marwa al Sherbini is hung in front of Dresden's city hall on Saturday

Around 150 students in Tehran threw eggs and demonstrated outside the German embassy building in the Iranian capital on Saturday shouting "Death to Germany! and "Down with Racist Europeans!"

The protests were in response to the murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman in a courtroom in the eastern German city of Dresden on July 1 and the perceived low-profile response of the German government.

On Saturday in Dresden, several hundred people gathered to honor 31-year-old Marwa al Sherbini, a pharmacist fatally stabbed by a Russian-born immigrant.

The public memorial in Dresden, organized by local civil rights groups, attracted some 800 people, including the Egyptian ambassador and officials from the state of Saxony, where Dresden is located.

Veil Murder

Dubbed the "veil murder" by Muslim groups, al Sherbini, who was three months pregnant, was stabbed at least 18 times in front of her husband and their three-year-old son by a Russian-born German man in the courtroom.

Wedding photo of Egyptian Marwa al Sherbini,

Wedding photo of Egyptian Marwa al Sherbini, stabbed to death in a Dresden courtroom

She had previously successfully sued the man for damages after he was found guilty of insulting her for wearing a headscarf in a children's playground.

The 28-year-old man, identified only as Alex W., had appealed against the conviction and fine, and the fatal attack took place during the appeal hearing. The man had right-wing views, according to police, but no previous record of offenses.

Marwa al Sherbini's husband is still in a critical condition in hospital after also being stabbed by the assailant and shot in the leg by police who mistakenly took him for the attacker.

Demonstrations

Since the murder small protests have taken place in Cairo and within the German domestic population. Further demonstrations are planned for Sunday.

Thousands of people carry the coffin of Marwa al Sherbini in Alexandria, Egypt on July 6

Thousands of people carry the coffin of Marwa al Sherbini in Alexandria, Egypt on July 6

What has surprised and angered Muslims in Germany and elsewhere is the slow response made by the German government to the incident and the apparent indifference of the German press.

The Berlin-based daily Der Tagesspiegel asked on Thursday: "Why was the death of a veiled woman, who was not the victim of an 'honor crime', only news in brief for a whole week?"

The German press buried the report of the murder on the back pages and have since focused on the issue of security in German courts rather than the racist aspect of the killing.

German government takes one week to issue response

The incident occurred on July 1 but the German government took until July 8 to issue a statement of condolence.

This was followed up by a letter written by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and sent to his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit expressing his condolences to the woman's family.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed Germany's condolences to Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak on the fringes of the G8 summit in Italy on Thursday.

"Martyr"of Islam

Thousands of angry mourners attended Marwa al-Sherbini's funeral on Monday in her hometown of Alexandria and Egypt's top cleric declared her a "martyr."

On Friday, Iran lodged an official protest with the German embassy over the killing.

td/AP/dpa/AFP

Editor: Kyle James

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