The Egyptian funeral of Marwa El Sherbini, who was brutally killed outside a courtroom in the German city of Dresden, turned into a mass rally Monday against Germany, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and racism.
The 32-year-old pharmacist, dubbed the “veil martyr” by the Egyptian media, was stabbed to death Wednesday by a man who had been fined 780 euros for taunting her with racial slurs in August 2008. The assailant, known as “Axel W.,” appealed the fine, and while the pregnant El Sherbini was preparing her testimony, he stabbed her 18 times in front of her husband and 3-year-old son. The husband was severely injured after unsuccessfully trying to protect his wife.
Thousands attended El Sherbini’s burial, which took place in her hometown of Alexandria, just a few hours after her body arrived in Egypt on Monday morning. Mourners carried banners condemning racism and criticized both German and Egyptian authorities’ reaction to the crime.
Although the Egyptian Foreign Ministry denounced the act and asked its German counterpart for an official response, Egyptians were upset at the way their government had been dealing with the matter. “The passive policy adopted by the foreign ministry will lead to similar incidents against other Egyptians and Muslims abroad,” said El Sherbini’s brother Tarek.
“Now we as Muslims and Arabs have a chance to show the whole world that real terrorism takes place in the West,” he added. “In the West, they don’t recognize us. There is racism there. The Germans are the enemies of God.”
The funeral, which was attended by a large number of Egyptian politicians and parliament members, was overwhelmed with chants such as “We need revenge,” “Where is our foreign ministry?” and “Down with Germany” and “No to racism.”
Egyptians were angry that the murder had received little attention among German and international media. The absence of the German ambassador at El Sherbini’s funeral also sparked ire. El Sherbini moved to Germany four years ago to be with her husband, Elwi Ali Okaz, who was granted a fellowship to study genetic engineering at the Max Planck Institute.
The incident between El Sherbini and Axel W. began in a city playground, where El Sherbini was with her son. An argument developed in which Axel W. is said to have hurled abuse at the woman, including calling her a terrorist. El Sherbini filed an official complaint, which led to the fine.
— Amro Hassan in Cairo