Der Tagesspiegel's Andrea Dernbach comments on Germany’s problematic relationship to Islam. "/> Der Tagesspiegel's Andrea Dernbach comments on Germany’s problematic relationship to Islam. " />


Germany’s new hatred

A Muslim woman is stabbed to death in a Dresden courtroom and nobody seems to care. Der Tagesspiegel's Andrea Dernbach comments on Germany’s problematic relationship to Islam.

Germany's new hatred
Photo: DPA

The tragic events in Dresden last week have left several unanswered questions: How can a defendant stab a witness 18 times in a courtroom without anyone stopping him? How can the only person apparently able to intervene – her husband – end up seriously injured? And how is it that the police officer coming to the scene ends up shooting directly at the Egyptian husband and not the attacker?

But there’s possibly already answers to two important questions: Why does the death of a woman wearing a headscarf – who wasn’t the victim of a so-called “honour killing” – spark so little interest in Germany? And why did the country’s politicians merely shrug their shoulders for an entire week after the heinous deed?

Could it be that this death – which is now a murder investigation – did not fit the preconceived notions most Germans have of Muslims?

A young Muslim woman, an educated and employed pharmacist, refuses to accept outrageous insults such as “slut,” Islamist,” and “terrorist” from a xenophobic man and decides to defend herself in a court of law. After suing her tormentor he is convicted, but at a retrial he kills her.

Maybe most people simply chose to ignore this incident because it counters too many of our popular dogmas. For example, that education is the key to integration. In this case, a well-educated young woman, married to a man working at the esteemed Max Planck Institute, died. Who knows, perhaps that enraged the unemployed racist murderer even more?

Or what about the claim that Islam and Western society simply don’t fit? Marwa al-Sherbini tried to defend herself not only in an extremely rational and civil way, but chose to do it in an extremely German fashion: instead of screaming back at the man, she decided to sue him in court.

Another truth also hurts: the frequent German association that “Islam” means “Islamist” and “terrorist” only because someone has darker skin or wears a headscarf. Those are sentiments not held exclusively by extremists, even if the murderer apparently sympathised with the far-right NPD party.

Ever since Germany joined the war on terror after September 11, 2001 by profiling anyone appearing to be a devout Muslim with a beard or headscarf, it’s not only extremists linking Islam directly with terrorism.

Anti-Semitism against Jews is at last widely condemned in Germany, but now hatred of Islam is on the verge of becoming an acceptable form of racism. Fortunately the German Jewish Council has long made a point of trying to stem the rising tide.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel has remained silent and Geert Mackenroth, Saxony’s justice minister, apparently only wants to use the incident to push for closed courtrooms in the state – even though public access to trials is one of the most important pillars of a modern legal system.

Mackenroth, the former head of the German Association of Judges, once tried to justify police torture in Frankfurt. Perhaps proponents of the West’s liberal legal traditions have as much to fear from German justice ministers as they do from Islamic law dictated by sharia.

This commentary was published with the kind permission of Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

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Woman on trial over killing spree at Potsdam care home

The trial began on Tuesday of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked outside Berlin.

Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam.
Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, in April.

The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms after being stabbed with a knife, with police saying they had been subjected to “intense, extreme violence”.

Ines Andrea R. is also accused of trying to kill two further residents and of seriously injuring another, a woman aged 43.

She was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as “pertinent evidence” of severe mental illness.

Around 100 police officers were involved in recovering evidence at the scene.

READ ALSO: Women in custody over killings at Potsdam disabled home

The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church’s social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.

It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.

Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.

In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Högel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.

READ ALSO: Missed chances: How Germany’s killer nurse got away with 85 murders

Högel, believed to be Germany’s most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.

Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.