Man Who Stabbed Pregnant Muslim Woman Sentenced to Life

Dresden, Germany—A German man was found guilty on murder charges stemming from a courtroom incident in which he stabbed a pregnant Muslim woman.

Alexander Wiens, 28, confessed during a court hearing in July that he had stabbed an Marwa al-Sherbini, but said that it was not a premeditated crime, and that he did not kill the Egyptian woman because of her faith.

Al-Sherbini, 31, had filed a complaint against Wiens in 2008, in which she alleged that he had insulted her with racial slurs and epithets, calling her a “terrorist” and “Islamist.” The attack happened when the two appeared together in a Dresden courtroom for a hearing on the matter, in which al-Sherbini was scheduled to testify against Wiens.

Yet because of Germany’s courts’ lackadaisical security measures, Wiens had been allowed to bring a kitchen knife with a 7-inch blade into the courtroom, which he used to stab al-Sherbini at least 16 times. When her husband Elwy Okaz, a scientist conducting research in Dresden, stepped in to try and save her, Wiens also stabbed him several times. He suffered serious injuries. Additionally, the couple’s 3-year-old son witnessed the attack in the courtroom.

Wiens was also tried and convicted for stabbing Okaz, on charges of attempted murder. His attorneys had sought a lesser conviction of manslaughter, but to no avail.

Said prosecutor Frank Heinrich, “It’s clear that his motive was hatred for Muslims. Like a maniacal, cold-blooded killer, he started stabbing the woman and her husband, who was trying to protect her.”

Wiens declined to respond in court.

The killing had trigged outrage among the worldwide Muslim community. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed condolences privately to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but did not make a public statement about the incident. This contributed to what Egyptians perceived as a racist and anti-Muslim response on the part of Germans in general. Demonstrators outside of the courtroom where Wiens was sentenced carried signs that read “the death of Marwa is the result of Islam hunting” and “stop the Islam hate in Germany.”

Wiens was a Russian-born German citizen who has lived in Germany since 2003. He has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of early release, a term which is considered relatively severe by German standards. Most convicted murderers are sentenced to life in prison, but are eligible for release after 15 years behind bars.

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