Berlin denies delayed response to Egyptian woman’s death

The German government has defended its delayed reaction to the stabbing of a pregnant Egyptian woman in a Dresden courtroom on July 1. Her murder has sparked ongoing protests in Egypt.

Berlin denies delayed response to Egyptian woman's death
Protestors in Alexandria, Egypt on July 6. Photo: DPA

“The German government has not remained silent,” government spokesman Thomas Steg said Wednesday in Berlin. Initial information on the crime had not been substantiated enough to warrant a response any sooner, he added.

Meanwhile, Maria Böhmer, the government’s integration representative, expressed sympathies and regret regarding the incident to the victim’s husband, who has been hospitalised in critical condition due to injuries sustained during the incident.

According to German and Egyptian newspapers, the victim was Marwa al-Sherbini, a 32-year-old Egyptian national who was suing her attacker after he insulted her for wearing the Islamic headscarf, calling her an “Islamist” and “terrorist.” The attacker, identified only as Alex W., was appealing the €780 fine he was ordered to pay in the libel suit. She was 3-months pregnant when she died.

The stabbing occurred just before al-Sherbini was to appear as a witness. During the struggle, the woman’s husband and other bystanders were also injured and police fired a shot. Al-Sherbini died in the courtroom. Her 28-year-old attacker was overpowered and is now under investigation for manslaughter, a spokesman for the Dresden prosecutor’s office said.

Steg said the incident constituted “a repulsive act, an act that has upset and affected us all,” adding that “neither right-wing extremism nor xenophobia nor Islamophobia have a place in Germany.” He appealed to the German population to “firmly and resolutely” oppose such prejudices.

Meanwhile thousands of protestors have voiced their anger over the murder in Egypt and in Berlin while Egyptian media has called al-Sherbini the martyr of a racist attack.

A public memorial ceremony for al-Sherbini is scheduled for Saturday afternoon in front of Dresden’s city hall.


Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

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In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

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