07 July, 2009

A convenient distraction?

It is very easy to understand the anger that the murder of Marwa el-Sherbini in Germany has provoked in Egypt. As usual, there is a lot to be said about western media bias (imagine, as many bloggers suggest, what a story it would be if some fanatic stabbed a German citizen to death in Cairo). And even if we can never understand or explain every single act of violence completely, I believe the general climate of intolerance and islamophobia that exists in Europe today must be at least part of the explanation.

Nevertheless, I think Mostafa Hussein has a good point when he compares the public reaction to the murder with that against another murder that took place in Egypt last year: "Marwa was also a pregnant Egyptian mother and her son witnessed her death. Mervat, however, was never called a martyr. Mervat's death is not an isolated incident. Every couple of months we know of a death by the hands of our police, with great impunity by the ministry of interior, prosecution and judiciary. Let alone torture which happens daily."

Did Sheikh Tantawy call for the capital punishment against any of those police torturers? And did any government officials attend the funerals of their victims? I don't think so. Islamophobia is a real problem for many muslims in Europe - but for regimes like the one in Egypt it is often a convenient distraction: Point to the crimes of others to hide your own.

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