Marwa Sherbini Cairo Funeral: Thousands Remember Headscarf Martyr
Thousands of Egyptians attended the funeral of Marwa Sherbini in Cairo today, July 6, 2009. The 31-year-old 'headscarf martyr' was stabbed to death last week in a German courtroom, where Axel W, the attacker, was appealing a fine of 750 euros for calling Sherbini a 'terrorist' in 2008 because she was wearing a headscarf.
28-year-old Axel W, a xenophobic German, stabbed Sherbini, who was 4 months pregnant, 18 times in a German courtroom in front of her 3-year-old son, Mostapha, on Wednesday, July 1. The attack happened just before Sherbini was about to take witness.
Sherbini's husband, Elwi Ali Okaz, who tried to defend his wife, is in critical condiction in a German hospital. He was stabbed by Axel W and shot in the leg by a security guard who initially mistook him for the attacker.
Sherbini's tragic death struck a chord with the Egyptian public. Newspapers named her 'the martyr of the hijab' and thousands mourned her death at her funeral.
"There is no god but God and the Germans are the enemies of God," chanted the mourners for 32-year-old Marwa al-Sherbini in her hometown of Alexandria, where her body was buried after being flown back from Germany.
According to the World Bulletin, German authorities delivered Sherbini's 3-year-old to an orphanage and may have refused to send him to family members via the Egyptian embassy. They also failed to inform Marwa Sherbini's family or the Egyptian embassy about the death. The family found out 24 hours later from a family friend.
Many Egyptians view the muted response of the German government as anti-Muslim sentiment.
[However, the] German embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, said that the attack was not a reflection of German attitudes towards Muslims.
"It is a criminal act. It has nothing to do with persecution against Muslims," Magdi al-Sayed, a press officer, told the state-run Egyptian Gazette.
But Sulaiman Wilms, the head of communications at the European Muslim Union, said that the incident was at least partly representative of the situation faced by Muslims across the continent.
Tarek el-Sherbini, Marwa Sherbini's brother, also saw his sister's murder as an act of racism.
"If she was just stabbed once, I would have said this is a mad man, but the number of times she and her husband were stabbed reflects the extent of racism this man had in him," Tarek Sherbini, the victim's brother, said. "Here in Egypt, we believe in 'an eye for an eye'. The least we expect is the death penalty for the murderer."