EARLY in July the story unfolds: A three months pregnant 32-year old woman isstabbed to death 18 times by a 28-year old man in front of her three-year-oldson inside a courtroom and the judge is a witness. Her husband is shot by thecourt security guard as he tried to save his wife. He ends up in hospital incritical condition. The boy is taken out of the courtroom crying, "Where isMum?"
The story did not get the extensive coverage it deserves by the media. And no questions were posed: How the knife of the attacker was got into thecourtroom? Why did the court security guard fire his gun at the husband? Whydoes the media insist that the husband was "accidentally" shot by the securityguard in the courtroom as he tried to save his wife? If the killer were a Muslim and the woman is a Jew the media will cover thestory for months not days and every Western politician of any and all stripeswould have condemned this hate crime.
We still remember the uproar by the Western media that followed the 2004 murderof filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-born Muslim angry over one of his filmscriticizing the treatment of Muslim women. But the innocent woman was a Muslim. She was killed in cold blood by a white European in Germany. And for an unknown reason the court had forbid the releaseof his name in a court case involved his victim for calling her a terrorist. Her husband was too a Muslim. The court guards’ reaction was to shoot at him ashe attempted to get between his wife and her killer. The guard could not believe that a Muslim man was not the aggressor.
Marwa Al-Sherbini, her unborn baby, her three-year-old son and her husband areall victims of Islamophobia; Islamophobia in Western society, Islamophobia inWestern courts, and Islamophobia in Western media. Her murderer, earlier and still identified only as Alex W, had been found guiltyof subjecting El-Sherbini to racial abuse and fined 780 euros (US$ 1100). Heappealed the verdict, which is why they were in courtroom together. She was setto testify against him. The Egyptian- born young mother was a pharmacist accompanying her husband as hepursues his graduate studies in Dresden. She was killed just because she is aMuslim. She was called "martyr" by her family and friends. The crime "had anti-Islamic motives.
[But] the reactions from politicians andmedia have been incomprehensibly meager," Aiman Mazyek, the general secretary ofthe Central Council of Muslims, told Berlin's Tagesspiegel daily. Only at its regular news conference and one week after the killing, Thomas Steg,a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, described the crime as "horrible andoutrageous." Nothing about hate, nothing about the spread of Islamophobia.
Nothing. Nearly ten days after the murder, Merkel expressed her condolences in a private talk with Egyptian President Hosni Muburak in the Italian city of L'Aquiladuring the G8 meeting. German officials failed to acknowledge the Islamophobic nature of this hatecrime.
Court spokesman Christian Avenarius only said that the murderer was a"fanatical xenophobe." But he added that it was not "possible to say his actionswere prompted by 'Islamophobia', nor that he was a far-right extremist." Some media commentators blamed the origin of the attacker (he is a Russianimmigrant) and others blamed the victim (she wears hijab - a head scarf). But many activists consider it a hate crime, a human right issue and part of anongoing battle against Western intolerance. "You don't have to be a Muslim to act against anti-Muslim behavior, and youdon't have to be a Jew to act against anti-Semitism," said Stephan Kramer, thegeneral secretary of the Central Council of Jews.
Kramer sees Sherbini's death as a grim reminder of the prevailing Islamophobiain the West. "All those who dismissed Islamophobia as a false debate in recentyears were wrong." Islamophobia in the West has a devastating effect not only on Muslim minoritiesbut also on every citizen who cares about the well-being of his / her countryand it insidiously undermines every effort to sustain social and civil peace.
In her birth city of Alexandria, a street is now named after Marwa Al-Sherbini,a grim reminder for future generations that in 2009 Europe, Islamophobia wasstill alive. Courtesy:
The Canadian Charger, July 17, 2009
Dr Mohamed Elmasry is Professor Emeritus of Computer Engineering, Universityof Waterloo; Founder, The Canadian Islamic Congress; and member, editorialboard, The Canadian Charger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org The Canadian Charger is Canada’s new national independent not-for-profitmultimedia interactive online magazine with 60 of Canada’s top experts, writersand cartoonists: www.thecanadiancharger.com