Arab World Captivated by Courtroom Death Murder Trial

By Sadie Bass

Oct 28, 2009 12:11pm

ABC's Lama Hasan reports from Egypt: In July this year, Marwa El Sharbini, an Egyptian woman living in Dresden with her husband and three year old son, was stabbed to death in a German courtroom as she testified against a Russian born German man who called her a ”terrorist,’ an ”islamist” and a ”whore,” allegedly because she wore a headscarf.  Dubbed the ”hijab (headscarf) martyr” by some in the Egyptian media and bloggers, her death sparked outrage with protestors taking to the streets across the Arab world. They regard her death an example of European Islamophobia.  They also believe the international media has not given it much play, accusing western news agencies of having double standards. It is no surprise that this story has been dominating the front pages in Cairo with many closely monitoring and scrutinizing the details of the trial.  When El Sharbini’s funeral took place in her hometown of Alexandira, Almasry Alyoum, the English-language version of the leading Egyptian independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, had this headline ” Poor Victim of Terrorism Paid a Farewell by Egyptians. Marwa's Funeral in Alexandria Participated by Armies of People. Raised Anger against Germany and Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” adding that the defendant should be called a ”terrorist.” English language news website Bikya Masr, says that ”Marwa el-Sherbini’s name has become synonymous with the cultural and religious fight ongoing in Europe following her tragic death in early July of this year. The courtroom stabbing at the hands of a German extremist, neo-Nazi, radical named Alex, left much of Egypt and the Arab world crying foul, saying it revealed the turn toward anti-Islamic sentiments in Europe.” While many in the Arab world are watching and waiting the trial, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Husam Zaki said that the Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al Ghayt is also following developments.  Zaki added that ”a team of leading German attorneys has been appointed at the expense of the state to defend the interests of the victim’s family to guarantee the killer gets the maximum punishment.”  MENA news agency reports that the head of the Egyptian Bar Association Hamdi Khalifa left Cairo on October 25th to attend the hearing and will take part in the trial.  A Dresden based Orchestra was due to perform in Alexandria on October 31st but because of security concerns this has been now cancelled.  The orchestra is however expected to play on November 2nd at Cairo’s opera house.

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