The case of a young Nigerian who was stabbed to death when trying to protect two young women from harassment hasn't gotten nearly the media attention of similar cases in Germany. Critics say that is no coincidence.
More than 1,000 people attended Okoronkwo's funeral
Emeka Okoronkwo died on May 2 in the district surrounding Frankfurt's main train station as he tried to protect two German women being verbally abused by two Eritreans. One of the men stabbed Okoronkwo with a knife, and the 21-year-old Nigerian died several hours later in hospital.
Okoronkwo's death recalls a similar story last summer in Munich, when businessman Dominik Brunner was killed while trying to protect four children at a train station from violent youths.
Okoronkwo's death did not make the national headlines
Brunner's case made national headlines. Chancellor Angela Merkel offered condolences and all buses and trains in Munich stood still for a minute during Brunner's memorial service. By contrast, Okoronkwo's death has received low-key coverage in the past week, though over 1,000 people attended his memorial service in the town of Langen in Hesse on Monday.
Little public interest
Explanations for the different treatment of Okoronkwo and Brunner vary. Jutta Ebeling, a senior city official in Frankfurt, attended Okoronkwo's memorial service and said the political spotlight on the Brunner murder was an exception that came just weeks ahead of national elections.
"The Brunner case was used in the campaign ahead of the parliamentary polls," she said, a development she said she found distasteful. But others believe that Okoronkwo's stabbing met with so little media interest because it occurred in a rough area, and because the men involved were all foreigners.
Eugen Emmerling, deputy head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Frankfurt, has suggested posthumously awarding the young Nigerian with a medal of honor. "We should be really careful not to make distinctions in the way we treat these crimes," he said. "People should be honored no matter their status in society, and I believe Emeka deserves to be honored."
Okoronkwo dreamed of a future in the hotel business
Okoronkwo admired Brunner
Okoronkwo's friend Kareem Kennedy was still in shock at the Nigerian's memorial service. He said Okoronkwo had started training to be a restaurant manager and dreamed of one day working in top hotels. Kennedy described him as someone who always stood up for others.
"Emeka was really an old-school gentleman - you don't see that often anymore," Kennedy said. "Dominik Brunner was one of Emeka's heros," he added.
"That man sacrificed his life, Emeka would say," Kareem said. "Emeka said he didn't believe he could have done that, that he would have been too afraid. Unfortunately, he had to prove us wrong."
Author: Jan-Philipp Scholz /db
Editor: Ben Knight