Why have we not heard of Marwa al-Sherbini?

First, a bit of backgrounder, courtesy of al-Jazeera–the only major English-speaking network to have given this shocking murder story ANY coverage:

And now, I weigh in.

When I googled for Marwa’s story, to find out the particulars, I got this blog post at the top of my search. The post is excellent in itself; I have no problems with it. What bugs me is that the very first comment it got…is THIS:

All hate crimes are horrible. Yet you perceive this with blinders on. Most Muslim women murdered in Europe are murdered by their father’s or husband’s in honor killings. How many women have been murdered for wearing a veil? One. How many have been killed for refusing to? Hundreds if not more. Also, hate crimes like this have happened in Europe and the USA where it was the Muslim who was the perpertrator. I live in Seattle where a Muslim opened fire on a Jewish Center last year killing one and seriously wounding four. Why didn’t the Muslim media report on it?

…which sounds to me like it’s just a hair away from justifying the exact racism and bigotry that led to Marwa’s death in the first place. “They do it to (fill in the blanks), so tit for tat.” The “why didn’t the Muslim media report on it” bit is also a sweeping generalization: How does this “jane doe” know they didn’t? Can she read Arabic? Has she scoured the “Muslim media” for the report she claims did not exist? My educated guess is that she doesn’t know, can’t read Arabic, and hasn’t done a damn thing except fire off at the keyboard to diminish the impact of a death that should not be minimized under any circumstances. Very slick work on the part of “jane” to deflect people’s attention from the horrific facts of Marwa’s death. (Happily, lots of other readers–including Muslims who DO follow the Arabic-language media–take her to task for her lies.)

This tendency to minimalize the violent deaths of those who don’t blend in with Western society fits right in with what I blogged two days ago, about the Canadian government being willfully and selectively blind to the abuse perpetrated against Muslim Canadians abroad. It amounts to undeclared institutional racism. In Germany, similar things are happening, and on local soil. Since I am the daughter of two German immigrants myself, this touches me where I live. I cannot afford to be blind to this sort of thing. After all, I blog the news that goes unreported or underreported here.

And yes, Marwa’s death is big news. I am ashamed to say that it is news to me, totally unknown until today. A full two months after it occurred. How could this be?

Marwa’s murder occurred in eastern Germany. That’s significant in itself, because the “Eastzone”, as it’s called, has lingering socio-economic problems dating back to before reunification. Ingo Hasselbach, an East German who used to be a leading neo-Nazi in the area, wrote extensively on those problems in his memoir, Führer-Ex. Kids disaffected by the failures of sovietism (not to be confused with socialism, or even communism) and further disenchanted by the failed economic promises of capitalism, have a high risk of becoming the very thugs their parents and grandparents were rightly taught to abhor. Eastern Germany still lags behind the western three-quarters in terms of jobs, education and health. It is, in short, a perfect storm of the circumstances that breed fascism and xenophobia. And it has the violent crime statistics to prove it.

Moreover, Marwa’s murderer was a Russian national (claiming German ethnicity). No doubt he came to Germany in hopes of finding better prospects than were in store for him back home (post-Soviet Russia is in even worse shape than East Germany.) He landed in the depressed Eastzone–and, predictably, found nothing. Meanwhile, there was Marwa, right next door. Another immigrant, but with a difference: She had a job, an education, a growing young family. She had much to live for; she had, in short, a future. Something the murderer did not have.

But what really galled him, I’ll bet, was that Marwa was a Muslim. She wasn’t acting like a “proper” second-class citizen. She wore her headscarf openly and didn’t try to look assimilated. How dare someone like that behave as if she belonged? (Which she did?) To his twisted reckoning, she must have been a terrorist–someone out to impose Islam on the west. The sort of people the shitty racist “anti-jihad” pundits, like Mark Steyn, are always “warning” us about.

Or maybe not; maybe he just called her that because of pure spite and resentment. Possibly it was the product of all this and more. Whatever it was, she took him to court for it. And right there, in the courtroom, in front of everybody, he stabbed her to death. 18 knife-thrusts in all.

Marwa’s death caused a huge outcry in Germany as well as in Marwa’s native Egypt (and throughout the Arab/Muslim world), but news of it somehow failed to make it across the big pond. Meanwhile, the media here were all over the death of Neda, the Iranian woman killed during protests against the Ahmadinejad government, literally like flies on a carcass. Why was Neda’s story so much hotter than Marwa’s?

Maybe it’s because the anti-jihadis were quick to seize on Neda’s death as proof that Islam is inherently evil and murderous. After all, those who killed her were believed to be agents of the so-called Islamic Republic. Visibility is also an issue, albeit a secondary one; Neda’s death was caught on camera and broadcast via Internet, but Marwa’s wasn’t. The anti-islamists therefore had more graphic “evidence” to exploit. But most of all, I think it’s because Marwa was killed by an obvious islamophobe, while Neda was killed by an alleged islamist. Apparently, a Muslim who kills is a worse person than a killer of Muslims–so runs the logic, no?

Now, why is it worse for a killer to be Muslim than white, presumably Christian, etc.? The antis would probably justify their unequal consideration by saying it’s because those people are all violent, all terrorists, all out to impose their religion on the west by force. The fact that nothing of the sort has happened makes no nevermind to them. “They’re just lying in wait”, is the standard response you’re likely to hear. “They’re still plotting it, still waiting for all you dhimmis to fall in line before dropping the hammer.”

Well, there’s a fine bit of projection. And you’re just as likely to hear it coming from the slimeballs at Stormfront, where the lying-in-wait, the plotting, and the hope that conditions will ripen into favorability are all running rampant…among the very people who are out to exterminate anyone who doesn’t “breed” correctly.

What makes all these rightard bloggers and pundits any better than those neo-Nazis? What makes them any better than the kind of person Ingo Hasselbach was before he saw the light and left the movement? The fact that Mark Steyn used to be Jewish (he’s now a Catholic)? Gimme a fucking break. Adolf Hitler probably had Jewish ancestors too, and he was definitely a practicing Catholic. Does that make him any less of an antisemite, any less a murderer of Jews?

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re on the right-hand side of the political spectrum and you subscribe to or defend this kind of beliefs, this attitude that “they” are out to oubreed “us”, you fit right in with the neo-Nazis. Why not go on over there and join them in
earnest? They’re looking for recruits. I’m sure they’ll be happy to have you. And it will be easier for me to identify you if I can see a swastika tattooed right there on your big dumb forehead.

But if you’re really NOT a racist, and NOT a bigot, and you find those swastika-wearing thugs abhorrent, then you’d better wake up and speak out. Wake up to the death of Marwa al-Sherbini. Speak out against bigotry. Wake up to the fizzing brew of insanity and inhumanity that got into the killer’s blood. Start using free speech for its true purpose–denouncing–and stop defending racist and fascist blather on the grounds of freedom of speech simply because they’re “unpopular”. They’re not, in fact. They’re very popular indeed, as anyone who’s been on the receiving end of the brutal end product of such speech could tell you…assuming s/he lived to tell the tale.

Marwa al-Sherbini did not.

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