Berlin denies delayed response to Egyptian woman’s death

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

“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.