Friday, 10 July 2009

better to keep quiet

as i mentioned in my previous post, i don't bother much with "news" media these days, so i haven't heard (or seen) this case being reported in our media:

It was while Marwa el-Sherbini was in the dock recalling how the accused had insulted her for wearing the hijab after she asked him to let her son sit on a swing last summer, that the very same man strode across the Dresden courtroom and plunged a knife into her 18 times.

Her three-year-old son Mustafa was forced to watch as his mother slumped to the courtroom floor.

Even her husband Elvi Ali Okaz could do nothing as the 28-year-old Russian stock controller who was being sued for insult and abuse took the life of his pregnant wife. As Okaz ran to save her, he too was brought down, shot by a police officer who mistook him for the attacker. He is now in intensive care in a Dresden hospital.

apparently the case has attracted little publicity in europe as well, with what publicity there has been in germany "focused more on issues of court security than the racist motivation behind the attack". the backstory to the case is this:

Sherbini, a former national handball champion, and Okaz, a genetic engineer who was just about to submit his PhD, had reportedly lived in Germany since 2003, and were believed to be planning to return to Egypt at the end of the year. They were expecting a second child in January.

Unemployed Alex W. from Perm in Russia was found guilty last November of insulting and abusing Sherbini, screaming "terrorist" and "Islamist whore" at her, during the Dresden park encounter. He was fined 780 but had appealed the verdict, which is why he and Sherbini appeared face to face in court again.

so, this woman who had taken a human rights case against her abuser paid the ultimate price for daring to stand up against the abuse, using the legal processes available to her. it's a clear message to keep silent.

these kinds of attacks don't happen in a vacuum. in parts of germany, teachers are not allowed to wear headscarves. in neighbouring france, it's pupils in public schools who face the ban, and sarkozy has been whipping up hatred more recently with his talk of banning the burqa. unfortunately, it's never the sarkozy's of this world who have to bear the consequences of their actions. it's women like marwa el-sherbini who pay the price.

as per usual, let me make it extremely clear that islamophobic comments will not be tolerated on this post, so don't waste your time by making them.


Moz said...

That's appalling. Both the events and the lack of coverage.

Interesting that the attacker was also an immigrant.

Psycho Milt said...

The stupidest thing is that, technically, the perp wasn't an immigrant. The Jerries are very big on ethnic roots, which means people living in places like Russia, Romania, Lithuania etc who are descended from German settlers of several hundred years ago are "Volksdeutsche" and entitled to German citizenship - even if they haven't had an ancestor living in Germany for 300 years and don't speak a word of the language. Axel W. is one of these - a German as far as the law is concerned, but a completely unwanted Russian immigrant as far as the typical modern Jerry is concerned.

Here's what the Tagesspiegel writes about him (my translation):

Axel W. obviously felt himself to be a loser in Germany. In Russia he was a high school graduate and completed an apprenticeship in warehouse stock control. In 2003 he came to the Federal Republic from Perm, a city in the Urals. He soon learnt German, but that seems to have been his only success in his new homeland. Axel W. lived in Dresden from social welfare and at the time of the attack was on the unemployment benefit. No job, no wife, no children - the 28-year-old fits pretty much exactly the cliche of the frustrated young proletarian man likely to be fascinated by the militaristic and self-confident appearance of right-wing extremists.

It's not yet clear whether W.had already developed a hatred of foreigners, and in particular Islamophobia, in Russia. Security sources declare the rumour doing the rounds, that W. or a relative had fought as a soldier against the Chechen rebels, to be "potentially plausible." At the least, the crime indicated not only the hate of the attacker, but also a possibly well-trained speed in using a knife. W. stabbed the Egyptian woman 18 times and also severely injured her husband Elwy O. in only 32 seconds.

As the article says, the guy is the very cliche of the types that become neo-nazis. I don't think anything the German govt said or did would have altered his interest in killing a foreigner.

NB: the Tagesspiegel also reports:
"What an uproar there would have been if Marwa had been a Jew," wrote the newspaper Al Shorouk. Tricky bugger, racism...

stargazer said...

hey, thanx so much for sharing that, it certainly gives a better understanding of the background to this incident.

"What an uproar there would have been if Marwa had been a Jew,"

ooh, how i hate that, i really hate that line (& yes, i've heard it used by muslims as well, though not in relation to this case). all it does is try to replace one form of hatred with another. there should have been an uproar had she been a jew & there should equally be an uproar now.

re the term "jerry" - isn't that a derogatroy term for germans carried over from WWII? or are they ok with it?

Psycho Milt said...

re the term "jerry" - isn't that a derogatroy term for germans carried over from WWII? or are they ok with it?

I doubt it! It's not very polite at all, but I'm used to thinking of them as mates.

Anonymous said...

I dont think that Jerry is offensive. I have a couple of Germans & I sometimes refer to them as the Jerries.

Hugh said...

Ah yes. "My favourite slang term for group X isn't offensive, because I use it around my friends from group X and they never object".

Nicely done guys.

Psycho Milt said...

Curses, your perceptive amateur psychology has uncovered my secret - it's really my bigotry and hatred of Germans that leads me to use slang terms for them...

Julie said...

Thanks for writing about this Anjum, what an awful awful situation.