I write this with a certain level of emotion, helplessness and frustration. Emotion because the free flow in my thoughts were disturbed by a video I watched, helplessness because I was not given a role in the drama that the video portrayed – for somewhere inside me a desperate voice screams to do something!, frustrated that I can’t seem to do enough quench albeit momentarily that voice inside me.
The video was about …
“Marwa Ali El-Sherbini , an Egyptian pharmacist and handball player, she was killed in a courtroom in Dresden, Germany, by a man against whom she had testified for previous xenophobic insults against her. Because Marwa was wearing a headscarf he had called her an “Islamist”, a “terrorist” and a “bitch”.
In August 2008 Alex W. (a German of Russian origin, not identified by full name in line with common practice of German authorities and media concerning criminal suspects) shouted abuse at Marwa in a Dresden playground, calling her an “Islamist”, a “terrorist” and a “bitch” in a dispute about her 3-year old son, who was apparently playing on a swing that his niece wanted to use. El-Sherbini was wearing an Islamic headscarf.
Marwa brought charges against him for insulting behaviour and he was fined 780 € by the Amtsgericht in Dresden. The Public Prosecutor filed an appeal to achieve a higher penalty because of the openly xenophobic character of the incident, since Alex W. stated “You don’t have the right to live here” at the time of the first trial.
The appeal hearing started in the late morning of July 1, 2009. Eight persons were present in the courtroom: a panel of one professional and two lay judges, the prosecutor, Alex W. as the defendant, his defence counsel, Marwa El-Sherbini as witness for the prosecution, and her husband and son as members of the public.
After Marwa El-Sherbini testified, 28-year-old Alex W. leapt across the courtroom and attacked her in front of her husband and son. Alex W. stabbed Marwa 18 times, killing her. Some witnesses allege that he shouted “You don′t deserve to live” as he attacked her. “
Her husband reportedly had jumped to her aid only to be shot by courtroom police and is now in a very critical condition.
The question arises, why were the authorities so lackadaisical that Alex was able to get into the courtroom with a knife?
The Hijab has been at the centre of many a story and I will not try to dwell on a topic already clichéd to a level of nausea to the lay-reader so to speak. But the level of media space that is allocated to issues which relate to an icon which reflects Islam is appalling.
I checked the Websites of many media organisations and I found nothing related to this incident, if they did it was a casual headline making a lethargic telling-just-to-tell-it report of the incident. I typed Marwa El Sherbini in the UK Times’ website and nothing comes up whatsoever!
When Gillian Gibbons was supposedly accused of charges of blasphemy in Sudan her story was in the media for days, and there wasn’t even any blood involved!
Leave aside the “Muslim” factor; the ashamedly hypocritical almost diabolic (yeah strong word) silence of the media (western in particular), human rights organisations and that of the ever vociferous feminist groups in the wake of such incidents is enough to trigger waves of emotions in anyone with a just sense of mind.
And I don’t need to be a male chauvinist to wonder where global feminist groups are when one of their sisters is subject to such treatment!
If the West is attempting to do its best to mitigate radical Islam by all audacious or even subtle means that it employs, I am rather disturbed by this laughable myopia it exhibits in letting such incidents take place. Take an everyday Muslim, who innocently does what his religion asks him to do and harms no one in the process – relate to him (without exaggeration) the whole story of Marwa El Sherbini and – you may create a “radical” Muslim.
I may not get radicalised by what I saw and never will be, simply because I have lived in western society and have seen the levels of acceptance and tolerance an everyday westerner shows towards a Muslim practicing his/her routines and I know that radicalism in any ideology violent or non violent is not going to achieve anything, but such inaction by authorities will only amplify the calls of some Muslims who themselves were radicalised in the first place by being subject to injustice or by their human emotions being disturbed by the injustice they saw meted out to another human being who happened to be another Muslim.
This post is dedicated to Marwa El Sherbini who resorted to ethical means in fighting her case only to be let down by a legal system in which she had put her trust in.
I am not a fan of Sami Yusuf (I really don’t like his songs, ok I hate his songs), but I found the following rather befitting.
What goes through your mind?
As you sit there looking at me
Well I can tell from your looks
That you think I’m so oppressed
But I don’t need for you to liberate me
My head is not bare
And you can’t see my covered hair
So you sit there and you stare
And you judge me with your glare
You’re sure I’m in despair
But are you not aware
Under this scarf that I wear
I have feelings, and I do care
So don’t you see?
That I’m truly free
this piece of scarf on me
I wear so proudly
to preserve my dignity…
so don’t judge me
Open your eyes and see…
Why can’t you just accept me? She says
why can’t I just be me? She says
Time and time again
you speak of democracy
yet you rob me of my liberty
All I want is equality
Why can’t you just let me be free?
For you I sing this song
My sister, may you always be strong
From you I’ve learnt so much
How you suffer so much
Yet you forgive those who laugh at you
You walk with no fear
Through the insults you hear
Your wish so sincere
That they’d understand you
But before you walk away
This time you turn and say:
But don’t you see?
That I’m truly free
This piece of scarf on me
I wear so proudly
To preserve my dignity
So let me be
She says with a smile
I’m the one who’s free.