The Martyr of the Head Scarf
Marwa al-Sherbini, a 32 year old Muslim woman of Egyptian origin, was stabbed to death on July 1st, 2009 in a German courtroom by an anti-Muslim German fanatic. Marwa, who was stabbed to death 18 times in front of her 3 year old son and husband, was also four months pregnant. Her husband was also stabbed multiple times while trying to defend her, and was then shot by security guards who mistook him for the attacker. The attacker, 28 year old Alex W., was the victims' neighbour and would regularly terrorize and harrass the victims for being practicing Muslims.
Marwa al-Sherbini, a 32 year old Muslim woman of Egyptian origin, was stabbed to death on July 1st, 2009 in a German courtroom by an anti-Muslim German fanatic. Marwa, who was stabbed to death 18 times in front of her 3 year old son and husband, was also four months pregnant. Her husband was also stabbed multiple times while trying to defend her, and was then shot by security guards who mistook him for the attacker. The attacker, 28 year old Alex W., was the victims' neighbour and would regularly terrorize and harass the victims for being practicing Muslims.
The wave of anti-immigrant feeling that is being fed by extremists in Europe, who specifically target Muslim immigrants, has been reaching new highs recently. Harassment and attacks against immigrants, specifically Muslims, have been on the rise.
In the case of Marwa and her family, their neighbour Alex would frequently harass and ridicule them. In one incident he called them 'terrorists' for no reason other than being practicing Muslims. In another incident, Alex physically assaulted Marwa and tried to remove her head scarf (hijab) by force. In fact, the victims had been in court on the day of the attack to testify in a case against Alex for.
What is ironic is that Marwa's husband was invited to Germany on a research fellowship. He was not a refugee and was not taking advantage of any government or social assistance. Like most immigrants, Marwa and her family were honest and hard working individuals who were doing their best to live a happy and peaceful life, like everyone else.
How could such an attack be allowed to happen? Why was there no security guard in the courtroom who would have been able to stop this attack? What is even more puzzling is how did the security guards end up shooting the victim instead of the attacker? Did they assume that the attacker must be the dark skinned person, and the victim must be the blond one? Does this type of racism and utter ignorance still exist in the world?
The sad reality is that this is not the first or last case of right wing extremists attacking immigrants in Europe. Such cases will only continue to increase as long as the extremists are given free reign to spread their hatred. Unfortunately, nothing mobilizes people more than fear. European extremists are using fear to recruit followers and to gain support of the public. Xenophobic political parties that are running purely on anti-immigrant fear mongering are gaining popularity and votes. Especially in times of economic hardship, it is easy to blame people of another race or religion for all the problems, and it is easy to blame immigrants for the lack of jobs, even though in reality they have nothing to do with it.
Just as we must all unite to condemn terrorism committed by Muslims, we must also all unite to condemn this act of terror. The cold-blooded murder of Marwa must not be forgotten. Her three year old son will surely never forget the horrific scene that he has witnessed. He will surely be scarred forever. We must not let this happen ever again to anyone, no matter what their race, language, culture or religion. All people deserve to live in peace, freedom and happiness.
There should be no double-standard in how we deal with such atrocities. Just as there was a great uproar and universal condemnation following the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-born Islamic fundamentalist, there should also be an uproar and a universal condemnation of the killing of Marwa al-Sherbini.
The majority of the people of Germany, and Europe in general, are horrified that such extremism exists within their own people. They must now speak out against this murder, and they must speak out against those who are spreading fear and hatred which leads to such incidents.
Propagation of hatred against people of a certain race or religion is not freedom of expression. It is a hate-crime that leads to violent crime, and must be viewed and prosecuted as such. This is the lesson that Europe should learn from this incident. Action must be taken now before these events become the norm in Europe.
As for Marwa, may God have mercy on your soul, and may you enter paradise in peace and happiness with your unborn child. May God reward you greatly for standing up for your rights, and for paying the ultimate price in defending freedom. May God grant patience to your husband, your son, and your family. Amen.