Inside the Middle East
July 11, 2009
Posted: 1552 GMT

Octavia Nasr
CNN Senior Mideast Affairs Editor

Marwa is already dubbed the “Hijab Martyr.” Many believe she was murdered because she’s Muslim and wears her religion on her head in a Hijab, the Muslim head cover. Her heinous cold-blooded murder in a Germany courtroom has sent shockwaves across the Middle East and now it is spreading across the world.

Marwa was 31 and three months pregnant, when she appeared at a Dresden courtroom to testify against a man who had already been convicted of verbally attacking her by calling her a “terrorist” at a playground with her 3-year-old son. Instead of justice, Marwa and her family were met by a tragic fate.

On July 1st, in the Dresden courtroom, the same man identified only as Alex M. stabbed her 18 times in front of her son and husband. As her husband tried to defend her, he got his share of the stabbing and he was shot by a police officer who mistook him for the assailant. Marwa later died in the hospital. Her husband is still in critical condition.

Two Egyptian researchers at Dresden University, Mohammed Ahmed Khalif and Magdi Khalil, told CNN that on that fateful day, their trust in Germany was shattered.

“We have fear about our family here, about our children” said Khalif. He said he is disappointed by what he believes is a muted response by the German public and its politicians.

Khalil agrees with Khalif. He adds that some people in Germany could possibly harbor an anti-Muslim sentiment. He suggested twisting this around to see how people would react to the same story. “What do you think if we have an Egyptian guy who kills a German woman in a court? What do you think would happen,” he asked.

Germany’s government spokesperson Thomas Steg stressed that, “In Germany we cannot tolerate, right wing extremism, hatred of foreigners nor Islamophobia.”

For many in Egypt and across the Middle East, this response came late and wasn’t enough.

Egyptians mourned the death of Marwa with shock and outrage. As it is customary in the Middle East when someone dies young, the 31-year-old pregnant mother was buried in a procession fit for a bride, while across the nation people continue to take to the streets in sympathy.

Underneath the sadness of mourning, anger is brewing at what people in the Middle East call a hate crime. They are moved by news reports of how Marwa died.

Many have taken to the streets, waving banners that call her stabbing death a hate crime and that it’s racially motivated. They say Marwa was killed because she’s Muslim and wore the Muslim headscarf.

When they felt their calls for justice were going unnoticed, Egyptians along with other Arabs and supporters from around the world, took to the Internet, which has become the voice for the voiceless in the Middle East region.

On Twitter, they asked for sympathizers to spread the message that a life was lost and they want the world to pay attention.

They accused the media of failing to highlight the murder.

They criticized Europe in general and Germany in particular for becoming increasingly extreme towards minorities, especially Muslims.

And on Facebook, they asked for justice; calling for the harshest possible sentence for the assailant and an apology from Germany. They created pages where people can pay homage to a woman who has now become known simply as the “Martyr of the Hijab.”

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Bill   July 11th, 2009 6:05 pm ET

What happened to this woman and her husband was a terrible crime.

With the daily body count throughout the world rising from Islamic terrorism, I'm surprised this kind of thing doesn't happen more often. People are bombarded daily with reports of new Islamic terrorist attacks. People don't understand that not all Muslims are terrorists. But they do understand that virtually all terrorists are Muslims. Until Islam takes appropriate steps to eliminate terrorism in the name of their god, I'm afraid incidents like this will multiply and more innocent Muslims will be killed.

Filipe   July 11th, 2009 11:15 pm ET

Way to go CNN !!!! Glad to see you're on top of world news and current events!

I don't understand how you manged to squeeze it in so soon-you know with all the headlines covering Michael Jackson death, Michael Jackson memorial, Michael Jackson funeral, Michale Jackson day Gary Indiana, Michael Jackson's dad and his new record company, Michael Jackson's autopsy, Michale Jackson death investigation!

I'm surprised you even published anything on this event !!

I guess you have have your priorities !!!!

After all MJ news sells--this lame crap doesn't -right???

Nassem a muslim women from Middle east   July 12th, 2009 10:27 am ET

First of all my condolence to the family of the women who was killed.

Muslim women are abused , killed, tourtured , stoned, wiped and raped in most muslim countries everyday. Matters such as Honor killing , a father killing a daughter in canada because she refused to wear hijab, stoning a women for crimes they did not committ and many many more injustices.

Look at what is currently happening in Iran, Afgahnistan, Jordan, Egypt, ..............

Oh but I guess if a non muslim male kills a muslim women who wear a hijab it is a very big sin.

Barry   July 12th, 2009 11:14 pm ET

Nassem a muslim women from Middle east -

I've been a proponent of Muslim women's rights for some time. Muslim men try to pretend that these things are not happening or lie about them.

Until Islam recognizes that women are human beings, not slaves or possessions, this type of persecution will continue. Women are equal to men, in some ways even better. Men can not have babies.

I urge all women to fight Islamic repression and violence towards women. Remember, Muslim men have to sleep sometime...

Itai   July 13th, 2009 3:22 am ET

if some one kills some one it is a crime!

it dont mater if a christians kill muslims or muslims kill christians or who ever kills who

there is no legitimation!

maybe now some people would like to hear something about michael jackson ... of course the same people who said a bit earlyer that they dont wanna hear anything from michael jackson, maybe because he was also a muslim

some will bring now a big list of raped women by muslim or killed women by muslim ... or some muslim laws which allow to kill a criminal

the german extremist who killed a muslim woman will not get killed for his crime so all the muslim haters here dont have to worrie about him
in germany they will put him 20 years to prison and maybe let him free after 15 years ... and maybe put him to therapy

to kill a pregnant woman is very weak and it is faaaar away from civilisation ... and this because she did wear a hijab ... thats faaar away from a free world!

in germany she dont have to wear a hijab ... but if she like it she is free to wear it
sandly some "christian"-extremists cant deal with a free world and think that they have to kill people who look other wise

its a shame!
and everyone who trys to legitimate it is the same shamefull trash of humanity of which we all dont need anything

maybe others are killing each other all days ... in germany this is not normal, in germany people expect a higher standart of civilisation and if such things hapen more and more its like turning to middle age ... and so it is a big thing

germany dont go to iraq to abugrahig to do hollyday pictures ... germans also dont know how to occupie some guantanamo to torture people under "law" ... germans dont cut the hands of criminals or hang them or gas them or poison them or grill them in a chair

in germany it is very shamefull and it is a very bad sign if criminals bring weapons to a court and if cops shoot at the only person who helps a pregnat victim ... thats not only a big thing ... thats red alert to civilisation!

Nassem a muslim women from Middle east   July 13th, 2009 9:17 am ET

Ital & Barry,

If this women was killed by her husband/ brother/father/ Cousin in a muslim country lets just say things would have been very different.

They would have called it an honor killing and would have only gone to prison for 3-5 years. That is if there was a very harsh Judge who was pro feminist movement. In many cases they do not even get that term.

So a German legal system giving him 15 years + Therapy is much ore than what she would have gotten in her home country of Egypt.

What the german guy/ russian guy did is a terrible crime and he should be punished for his crime of killing a innocent human being.

What I am surprised about is the way the muslim world is taking this and using it against once again as a tool to hate west and say things like " Death to this and death to that and ............. "

Well here is my dilema, if all those religious fanatics who hate "the west" so much and are always rioting against them and burning their flags and .... Then why would a fanatic choose to live "In the West "

I am a muslim and wear hijab but you will not see me living in a European country or US. I choose to live in a muslim country where I do not have to force or always explain my religion or beliefs.
So why do all these fanatics who hate the west live in those countries? Unless they have an agenda?

I tell you why because they know that they have more rights as a human being than they ever did in their home country. But they want that + they want to force their ideals to " The West ".

I am sure if I was European I would have been mad as well.

It is our dream to have governments like Europe and US and Canada and.. But sadly we will never.

What I also do not understand is that theses fanatics are against your culture, your beliefs your values, your liberal thinking , your politics , your....... And they chant Death to you in their countries

And yet you shelter them at your homes, you give them citizenships, work, passports, education, human rights and........

Either your people and your government are saints or very naive.
Do you think if any European where to come to live in this part of the world they would be provided any of the above luxuries.

Just visit the bellow website and see how the Iranian "muslim government is treating its own muslims.

My other question is why did the Egyptian women take this guy to court to begin with? Again a women would never be even allowed a court room for harrasment in this part of the world

University rector   July 13th, 2009 11:22 am ET


"germans dont cut the hands of criminals or hang them or gas them or poison them or grill them in a chair"

No? you just failed your history exam

Nassem a muslim women from Middle east   July 13th, 2009 11:23 am ET

Ital and Barry

What about the recent suicide bombs / and burning of schools by Taliban on GIRLS SCHOOL in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Genocide against women.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE GIRLS? I guess they are not Martyrs since they are killed by Muslim Men.

My other comments Ital is that do not worry about US or Europeans promoting Anti Islam behavior. Countries such as Iran, Afghansitan and .... are doing such a fine job Marketing Islam by their action and behaviors and treating of human beings.

Itai   July 13th, 2009 1:39 pm ET


this woman was not an extremist
and she wa not shouting things like "death to the west"
so the western idea or theory of civilisation says that we humans are all the same ... that comes from the bible and most laws in the west are based on the bible... some essential books of law in the west begin whith some sayings like "in the name of god..."
so theoretical id dont matter here your from or how you look like, all have the same right
in germany, if people swear on others it can get a case for justice ... if you call someone an asshole he can bring you to the court... and if someone calls an other terrorist it is like swearing and can be a case for the court
this are western or at least german standarts of civilisation
maybe in your country it is otherwise ... and maybe thats why you wish to get the same system and law as in the west
but such a standart needs some work!
if the west applys now the standart of your country to people ... what will happen!
germany will apply your law and you dont have anymore to wish that you get the same law because it will be the same
so germany must keep ... and sure you agree with this ... its system and law... and so they have to prosecute a murderer ... in such a case 20 years are normal ... he killed someone in the court ... thats the greatest disrespect of law ... in fact it dont matter if he killed a german or muslim or who ever ... such a shamefull disrespect of law will bring 20 years thats around the highest penalty ... it can be followed by therapy
maybe you did hear about friz the sex monster in austria ... there they use a similar law as in germany ... he will die in prison ... but maybe he will get over 100 years old ... sure he will not get free because after the maximal penalty he will go anyway to a closed therapy
in the USA such people would be grilled or go 10000 years to prison ... may you did hear about madoff 150 years prison ... do you know some one who lifes 150 years ?
in germany or europe there is no deth penalty and it is good so... if germans apply now a deth penalty they get away from civilisation and thats not good ... as you maybe will agree
if they arrest him now only 3 or 4 year as in your country or just let him be ... germans would cet away from the standart which you are prising so much ... and that would be not so good

in germany, theoretical, it dont matter of which religion you are .. muslim christ sientology what ever ... the law is for all people the same
to kill someone in the court is one of the woerst crimes ever and have to be punished as such

and i hope germans dont mind to apply your law to such guys as you sound not so happy with the law of your country

about your question "why fanatics life in the west" ... do you think she was a fanatic?
why ... because she whent to court because someone did swear on her?
in germany that is normal ... if people swear on others it can be investigated and it is against law ... it is not an official delict like murder but there are laws against swearing and if people feel offendet they can call the police because of swearing
thats the system which you are prising

so it seems that she was well integrated ... he had a permit as her man had ... she did know the law ... and she was not fanatic or an extremist in opposide to the guy who killed her!

and in such cases in germany the law is clear ... it will be german law and not iranian law which will be applyed ... else you would not say that the german law is better then the iranian law because it would be the same

maybe a other example for you ... if an USAmerican kills in germany some people ... they will put him 20 years to jail ... they will not apply the USA law and grill him or put him 150 years to prison... maybe they will send him to the USA if they are sure that he will be punished there ... but they will utterly request the USA to not use the death penalty against him ... because its against the western ideology or ethics ... so you see also in the west exist different ideas of civilisation and europeans maybe have the highest standarts
to use death penalty is not better in iran or in the USA ... barbarians are barbarians

you saidyour a muslim and wear a hijab
in your country you maybe have to do so
thats sad and wrong and i am sorry about that!
everyone should wear what he or she likes!

in europe people wanna be free and also free to wear what they like ... if someone likes to wear a hijab it is ok ... if someone dont like it it is also ok
that is the free world which you are prising
and to keep the freedom up in europe it is nessesary to keep it up ... by ideology, by law, by doings

i hope germans will apply german law and not your iranian law
i hope that no one threats others because skin or clothes
i hope germans will not turn into iran ... and i hope that people as you are allways welcome to germany as refugee, tourist or just as a person ... with or without hijab ... and i hope no one will call you a terrorist only because you look as you look ... and i whish that you will get this kind of freedom in your country iran too

maybe you think now that i am naive ... you think maybe i am naive because your law is not the same ... what would be your way?
do you think because you are a barbarian i should also be a barbarian?
maybe it will cost my life ... but i stand for freedom ... call this naive if you like ... try to take me down on your level ... i keep trying to take you up on my level

by the way its not so easy as i did it
in many cases western law is trash ... and in some cases your law is not bad ... so forget about levels ... forget who is better then who
the west looks great ... but you maybe dont know why... its because we go to get immigrants which do the work for us ... it is because we oppres some people which the majority cant see in europe ... as africans or indian children which are doing oure shooes and so on... we got a high standart because we let others bleed to reach it
and thats not good, but looks so

at the end maybe a interessting fact ... you say in the egyp part of the world ... i guess your trying to say in the muslim part of the world a woman never can go to the court
maybe you did not got the lastest news
in saudiArabia a woman got education minister
and in some arab countries woman can go to the court and also can win a process
maybe you saw this woman on cnn which got sprayed some acid to her face ... she whent to the court and she could choose if she wanna do the same to him (he guy who did it) or take the money ... so also in the muslim world woman have rights

Nassem a muslim women from Middle east   July 13th, 2009 3:01 pm ET


Have you seen the reaction of the Muslim world to the women that was killed in Germany. That is the "Irony of it all " Where women have rights that belongs to Dark ages.

I am not saying that Germany should become like this part of the world like Iran / Afghanistan or ..... .
European / US and western countries in terms of law and human laws
are way ahead of us. You can't even compare .
They were able to overcome the influence of Religion from their politics 100 so years ago.

But please Ital do not say that women in this part of the world have freedom that is appropriate of this century. and not 1550's. You are not a women having to live in this part of the world.

They still practice Stonning, touture, slashing and.....

Yes in Saudi 9 year old girls are prepared for marriage by their fathers to men three times their age. Do you think that is womens FREEDOM.

Women might have some miniscule rights but that is comparing to the Dark Ages.

We muslim women in this part of the world are have to fight for basic human rights. Look at what women have to face in most Muslin countries

Women have to face issues:

1- Not being allowed to run for candidacy in politics
2- Women not being allowed to be Judges
3- Women being treated as half human in courts when testifying
3- Women being treated as less in inheritant compared to men
4- Men being able to have more than one wife
5- Womens right when she has to divorce and get her children
5- Majority of women having no say who they are married to
6- Majority of women being forced to wear Hijab
7- Women being killed in the name of honor killing
8- Women being stonned if they are have commited adultery while
men have done this very easily
9 – Most women who are raped do not go forward because in most
cases if you are not able to have all evidence you are then stonned
for being a prostitue.
10- Muslim women not being allowed to marry non-muslim men while
Muslim men can easily marry who ever they wish to.
11- women not being allowed to Drive as if in the time of the Prophet
there were cars and it was mentioned that a women should not
have to drive
12- Muslim women not being able to select their life partner

And many many more that I am sure some one who is practicing law in this part of the world would be able to inform you more.

So when you Ital my dear who does not live in this part of the world or nor a women comes and says that we have rights in here is very
hurtful to us who are trying so hard to change things.

Unless you yourself are a man from this part of the world and you actually agree and are happy the way a females are treated in this part of the world.

And Please do watch the movie " The Stonning of Soraya "
This is just a small example of how things are done.

Nassem a muslim women from Middle east   July 13th, 2009 3:11 pm ET

Here is a idea for you all to think:

We say that this poor women who was stabbed to death was not a fanatic muslim. We really don't know what her religious beliefs are. But by wearing a Hijab she is showing the world that she is very faithful to her practicing the Islam. She might not have been a fanatic but to people who are non muslims it is saying that she is.

An example is if someone since it is free in Europe / US wears a T- shirt with a print of the Natzi sign. It is just a print and there is freedom on those parts of the world. But i doubt it if people would be smiling at him when he walking past the street and if anyone tells him a harsh word they should face legal charges.

I am not saying that a scarf is equal to a Natzi sign but am showing a point of how what we wear can effect the way we are perceived
by others. Other wise all this fashion companies would not be doing so well

Filipe   July 13th, 2009 4:01 pm ET


It's also obvious you nothing of the Muslim world either !!!

You claim you don't live in a Muslim society-–yet you try to tell a Muslim woman who lives in a Muslim society what it's like and what rights she has ????

GLeigh   July 15th, 2009 12:34 pm ET

MJ was a Muslim? Didn't know that and I watch the news. Never saw him do the prayer thing on the news though. Is that true? Like Elvis, he is fascinating. It's ironic that he married Elvis's daughter.

I am sorry about this murder. It is sad. No one should be judged by their clothes. No one should be judged by their gender. No one should be judged by their religion. We are all just people, limping along and trying to figure out how to move forward and still survive. The moving forward thing is important. The industrial revolution happened, but what has happened since then? Computers. They are also helpful though bad guys are on them too. Now we know logic, computers, info on religions and countries, all that stuff. How do we get medical care, medicines, knowlege, freedom to everyone? There are still some countries who lock people up and torture them for demonstrating out in the street. Iran has recently done it. They are not the only ones though. So there is a power out there in the "out there" and we all want to feel like we "are the ones" like in the Matrix movies. What if we are all the ones and we all try figuring out the out there together? I guess that would be too much like the Tower of Babel. Sad. We'll keep fighting it out I figure. As a mom, I wish we'd move forwards though. You cannot feed billions of people herding camels though and raising a garden. It takes real work and study and the ability to think ahead.

GLeigh   July 15th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

I have a simple question. I'm a simple person. If I went into a Muslim country, a female, in my regular clothes, shorts and a tank top, flip-flops maybe though I being barefoot, would that be okay?

I know extremes and they aren't good. Saw one yesterday, a young person without much on. It shocked me a little, but then got over it. Heavy clothes shock me too. I've seen the heavy black clothes. I'm not into costumes, just comfort. I really hate tatoos though everyone loves them. But, I can get over that too. It's a fad.

GLeigh   July 15th, 2009 4:13 pm ET

I find it odd that we are so hung up on clothes or scarves. Some freaked when France talked about banning the hot dark clothes some women wore. It was their right, freedom, on and on. I agree. But, shouldn't those who claim such rights and freedoms, shouldn't they first grant them to others to make a real argument? Say I'm in a Muslim country, running around in my car doing errands, like I'm about to go and do, as a female, which I am, and I want to wear my usual attire, shorts, a tank top, and flip-flops, or shorts, a tee-shirt, and tennis shoes. Those same ones who want their "rights" should see the importance of granting them to others. After all, we are all just people made by God. The same. Am I wrong?

I find any kind of murder, for any reason, sad and terrible. There is no excuse. I feel bad for her and her family.

GLeigh   July 15th, 2009 4:23 pm ET

Maybe I'm looking at this wrong in some way. Here's what it seems to me like – If you come to visit my house, and you demand the right to bring something, say a pet bird, then I say okay, you bring it, and I'm fine that's okay. Or you demand to wear something, whatever. Then two weeks later, I go visit you at your house, I demand to bring my pet bird, or wear something, say shorts and a tank top, but you tell me no, it's my house and you can't – that doesn't seem fair. I have no problem with people from the ME wearing scarves or anything. But, if I were to ever visit a ME country, I know that I wouldn't have that same right or freedom. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong in some way. Still, it doesn't seem fair.

GLeigh   July 15th, 2009 4:29 pm ET

From the limited travelling I've done overseas, it seems to me that island people are about the happiest. They have slower paced lives and fewer rules about stuff in general.

alvi   July 16th, 2009 4:44 am ET

it was amusing to see that Killing a Muslim is like killing an Animal,western Media pays no attention to the brutal killing of a human who is a Muslim but if someone even hurts in some part off the world it means so much to them
the Man who killed This women is not a muslim so he is a Terrorist or nor or the People who burn the mosque in Spain they are Terrorist or not.
Killing People in Palestine and who killed that they are Terrorists or not,

so it means all terrorists are not muslims all people who take law in hand and kill others are Terrorists virtually if you will see More Muslims have been killed by Western Powers so Virtually Terrorist are who?

Jasmine from Iran   August 2nd, 2009 9:44 am ET

Alvi & Gleight,

I live in a muslim country and lets just say that other religions would never even be allowed to do as they please in muslim countries. They will never be able to open Churches, Senegals, Temples.
So lets just say i think the western countries have been much more tolerant and respectful of Islam and muslims in their countries.
There are many mosques for muslims living in major European cities and North America.
As for your answer Gleight, no you will not be allowed to wear what you wear in Europe or in US in major muslim countries or you will be killed or prisoned by the government.

Islam preaches compassion, understanding and kindness and yet i am sad to say that Muslims these days only see their own way and have this idea that everyone else should obey and respect them. Yet they never show the same to others. It is very Sad and believe me this is not what Islam preaches.

So Gleight if you lets say travel to country like Iran , Afghanistan or Saudi you will not be able to wear what you like and open a church or any religious place for that matter.

Hey in Iran you are not allowed to be in government employess if you are even from a different sect of Islam which is Shae.

So to all Muslims please what ever you do in non muslim countries first try to see who you would feel and react if the situation was reversed.

And I always say this if someone is sooooo religious they can always choose to live in countries that are governed by their faith.

I am a muslim women who has a scraf and i just live and travel to muslim countries.

Alice   February 4th, 2010 5:07 am ET

Germans are up to their old tricks, or have they been lurking in the shadows all along?

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