Official court illustration of the stabbing.

A shocking incident in which an Egyptian woman was stabbed to death in a German courtroom has provoked outrage in her home country. The young mother, pregnant with her second child, was killed by the very man she was bearing witness against, himself in court for making Islamophobic insults.

Thirty-two-year-old Marwa Sherbini was four months pregnant when she was attacked in the Dresden court on July 1. She was stabbed 18 times, in full view of the attendees, including her three-year-old son. Her husband, Aloui Ali Oukaz, who tried to come to her aid, was also stabbed and then shot down by a policeman who thought him to be an attacker, leaving him hospitalised.

The story began in August 2008, when Ms Sherbini brought charges against 28-year-old Axel W., unemployed and of Russian origin, for having had called her a terrorist because she was wearing a headscarf. The right-wing extremist was charged 780 euros, but appealed the ruling. It was at the appeal that the incident took place.

Sherbini, a chemist, had been living in Germany since 2003.

Sherbini with her family

“The majority of the funeral procession condemned hostility towards Islam in the West”

Ismail Alexandrani is a journalist and human-rights activist. He joined Sherbini's funeral procession and was the first to post photos of the event on his blog.

This crime was overwhelmingly racist and Islamophobic. That's why we saw irrational anti-Germany chanting at the funeral service and — despite the head of the German Jewish council having condemned the crime — anti-Jewish sentiments. The majority of the funeral procession condemned hostility towards Islam in the West.

As part of an exchange I spent a couple of weeks travelling around Germany, accompanied by four friends who wear the hijab, and we were never victims of racism. But I deplore the sluggish attitude of the German authorities in reaction to this incident. The German ambassador to Egypt didn't even express his condolences to Sherbini's family until last Wednesday [more than a week after the incident].

Egyptians want the attacker to be judged quickly because a long trial would only heighten their feelings of injustice. If the victim had been Jewish or homosexual, the crime would have provoked outcry all over the West.

About 10,000 people followed the funeral procession on Monday. It was clear that the Egyptian government had given the green light to the event. In fact the governor of Alexandria was in attendance himself. The Egyptian government lets its people let off steam from time to time, when things are particularly strained.

The funeral procession

Video posted by "CATCHO86" on YouTube, 6 July 2009.

Sherbini's funeral took place in Alexandria last Monday. The event attracted enormous crowds, turning into something of a demonstration.

The chant heard in the video:
Ignoble Germans, Marwa's blood was precious,
President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian blood is precious,
Our soul, our blood, for our martyr,
Our soul, our blood, for Islam,