Life sentence handed down in Dresden ″veil martyr″ murder case | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.11.2009
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Life sentence handed down in Dresden "veil martyr" murder case

A 28-year-old was jailed for life on Wednesday for the murder of an Egyptian woman in a Dresden courtroom last July, after stabbing her 16 times with a kitchen knife.

Alex W., face covered, is escorted by police

The defendant disguised his identity on the way to court

Alex W., an ethnic German born in Russia, also seriously injured the woman's husband, stabbing him at least 15 times with the same knife as he tried to protect his pregnant wife. Alex W. has been living in Germany since 2003.

Because of the severity of the crime and his self-confessed xenophobia, the Dresden state court ruled that Alex W. would have no chance of parole.

"Justice was done"

The verdict and the acknowledgement by the judges that Alex W. committed a heinous crime came as a relief to the Egyptian ambassador to Germany. Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy said justice was done, but also hastened to put recent events in perspective.

"It is an open and tolerant society, but no doubt there are elements in Germany - we cannot hide that - which reject foreigners. But they are an absolute minority," he said.

The incident attracted widespread attention inside and outside Germany, but especially in the Arab world.

Incident was a xenophobic hate crime

The murder occurred in the same Dresden courtroom where Alex W. had earlier appeared in a defamation case brought against him by the Egyptian woman, Marwa el-Sherbini.

Moslems praying outside the Dresden courthouse

The case has been followed closely by Moslems in Germany and abroad

In August, 2008, Sherbini and her small son, Mustafa, were at a playground in Dresden, where she had asked Alex W. to move so that her son could play on one of the swings.

Alex W. launched into a tirade, calling Sherbini, who was wearing a headscarf, an "Islamist", "terrorist" and a "slut". Witnesses of the incident notified the police.

Germany has an integration problem

Werner Wendel, from the Dresden-based Foreigner's Council of Saxony, said that Alex W.'s sentiments were well known in the area. He was jobless and didn't think he could lead a prosperous life in Germany.

"He didn't get a chance to become integrated in Germany. He didn't get a chance to be a member of this society. It's bad, but in the end one might say he became a loser under the German system of integration," Wendel said.

In October last year, Sherbini filed defamation charges against W. A hearing was held in November in which the court convicted him of defamation and fined him 780 euros.

Alex W. appealed the decision and a new trial was set for July 1, 2009. After Sherbini had finished her testimony that morning, Alex W. jumped up and stabbed her and her husband in front of the presiding judge and Sherbini's three-year-old son.

Xenophobia is widespread among young foreign-born ethnic Germans, according to Valerias Steinhauer, a former East bloc migrant who now heads a network fostering integration. Steinhauer warned that many new arrivals from Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics end up joining far-right groups, such as the National Democratic Party (NPD).

"The NPD understands that there is voter potential among the ethnic Germans from Russia. The party has even created a special sub-department for these ethnic Germans, and it's quite successful at winning over more and more people, as social discontent and disenchantment grows among our people here," Steinhauer said.


Editor: Susan Houlton

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