Image by luc legay via FlickrEgyptian Marwa El Sherbiny lived in Germany with her husband. Subjected to verbal abuse by a Russian man, Alex M, because she wore a veil, Marwa eventually took legal action against him. She was in the courthouse in Dresden when the man walked across the room and stabbed her 18 times with a knife he had brought into the coutroom. She died in the attack.
Marwa was pregnant.
Her husband rushed to help her, but he was shot by a policemen who apparently mistook him for the attacker. Having spent three days in a coma, he is currently in intensive care.
The man who stabbed Marwa is to be charged with murder. Early reports on Bild apparently said that the charge would be one of manslaughter. Interestingly, the vast majority of reader comments on the Bild website were horrified at the crime and how the man could have been allowed into the courtroom carrying a weapon.
The Guardian, finally, tells the story here. The incident took place on Wednesday last week and I picked it up when colleague Mai tweeted the news. Her first tweet on it came on Thursday (sparked by a tweet she had received linking to a report on Egyptian blog Bikya Masr) and was part of a growing tide of horrified Tweets from around the world reporting the incident. The horror expressed was both at the crime and at the way mainstream media appeared to be largely ignoring the incident - outside local German media such as Bild, which carried a report on its website the day the attack took place - there were no files from the major European newspapers and nothing from news agencies, either. Reuters, in fact, didn't file until Sunday 5th July, when it deigned to release a picture story caption showing protestors holding placards that said things like 'Our blood is red too, not cheaper than yours'.
As Bikya Masr points out quite correctly, European media coverage didn't break until almost a week after, when mainstream outlets started to report the protests in Egypt that took place. Those protests, as The Guardian points out, were fuelled at least in part by the way that the European media was seen to have ignored the killing. The Guardian's story, its first, was filed yesterday.
So, once again, we have news that travelled around Twitter, Facebook and blogs, the social media I talk so much about, but that was not considered newsworthy by the newspapers and TV channels that form 'mainstream media'.
At a time when the debate in Europe over women wearing the veil has been refreshed and brought into sharp relief by comments such as those made by Nicola Sarkozy, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a horrific murder committed IN a courtroom against a pregnant woman because she was veiled would be 'newsworthy' - the many people around the world who picked up the story from social media sources certainly thought so.
Now, a week later, we are seeing coverage of the protests - those comforting images of screaming zealots in the streets chanting for revenge that help people in Europe to 'understand' the Middle East.
The real question is why we didn't get to see that a gentle woman was killed in cold blood last week, when it happened. It took Twitter and blogs to tell us about that.