German politicians have woken up to the potential fallout from the bloody killing in a Dresden courtroom of a 31-year-old Egyptian mother which has unleashed anger in the Islamic world.
It took Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has talked much about boosting the integration of Germany’s roughly 3.5 million Muslims, several days to condemn the killing, perpetrated by a German of Russian origin suspected of being a neo-Nazi.
Suddenly, the government is trying to soothe tensions to avert a potential storm similar to the violence which erupted over Denmark’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. And less than three-months before an election, politicians are also worried about security — intelligence services say Germany is already a target due to its deployment of troops in Afghanistan. (Photo: Memorial gathering in Dresden – sign says “Racism kills,” 11 July 2009/Fabrizio Bensch)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the U.N. should condemn Germany for the killing. Last week, hundreds of mourners in Alexandria, Egypt, protested at the funeral of the slain woman, Marwa El-Sherbiny. Egyptian media have made much of the incident and some Egyptians have even called for a boycott of German products.
“Germany has no room for xenophobia or Islamophobia,” Merkel’s spokesman told reporters when pressed on the subject at a news conference, adding political failings had not led to the killing. Some politicians attended a memorial ceremony for the victim at the weekend.