Neda and Marwa: a Tale of Two Murdered Women

One Becomes an Icon, the Other is Unmentioned, By WALID EL HOUR, Counterpunch :

”Neda’s death became an icon of the Iranian opposition and a symbol for millions of people of the injustice of the Iranian regime and the defiance of the protesters. Neda’s death was put in context. It was taken from the personal realm of the death of an individual to the public realm of the just cause of a whole society.

On July 1st Marwa El Sherbini, an Egyptian researcher living in Germany, was stabbed to death 18 times inside a courtroom in the city of Dresden, in front of her 3-year-old son. She had won a verdict against a German man of Russian descent who had verbally assaulted her because of her veil. Her husband, who rushed in to save her when she was attacked in the courtroom, was shot by the police. Marwa’s death was not reported by any Western news media until protests in Egypt erupted after her burial. The reporting that followed focused on the protests; the murder was presented as the act of a “lone wolf,” thus depriving it of its context and its social meaning.

The “lone wolf” who stabbed Marwa 18 times inside the courtroom is the product of the society he lives in. If anything, the murder of Marwa should raise the discussion about the latent (perhaps not so latent anymore) racism against Muslims that has been growing in European societies in the last few decades, and noticeably so since the mid-90s.

What is significant to note is that in Neda’s case the media accused the Iranian regime as the authority responsible for the context in which the crime was committed rather than looking for the person who actually shot her. The accused is the establishment or the institution rather than the individual shooter. However, in the case of Marwa’s murder the media were persistent in stressing on the individuality of the murderer, calling him a “lone wolf”, implying that he is a social outcast who holds no ties to the society he lives in. The murderer was given a name “Alex W.” and the institution, the society, and the establishment he lives in were taken away from the picture.

While Neda’s death enjoyed wide arrays of interpretations and readings in context, Marwa’s death was deprived of its context and was presented as a personal tragedy, featuring a madman and his victim. Meanwhile Europe keeps shifting to the right at an accelerating pace, and cultural stereotypes, failure to integrate (read: social and political alienation), miscommunication, and a growing financial crisis only nourish this trajectory and support the populist and chauvinistic discourse of various newborn and resurrected right wing parties.”


3 thoughts on “Neda and Marwa: a Tale of Two Murdered Women”

  1. a very interesting comparison. But as an Iranian I wanted to comment that to many Iranians, Neda’s death looked more like an arranged plan than to the reflection of an “unjust regime”. I don’t think my government is unjust, but that is the way western media reflect it.

  2. The views of the writer of the article did not completely agree with mine. I wanted to write a comparison myself of the two events, but I couldn’t have put it better than the article. However, this does not mean that I agree with all of the editors views. I am certain that the whole sequence of events was an attempt by western backed individuals and groups to weaken the government and causing mayhem and chaos. I don’t want to go into the details here, I’ve posted quite a lot on the elections, but as a husband of an Iranian and supporter of (most) of the governments policies, I agree with your comment and appreciate your effort and time to post here.

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