CAIRO — Dalia Shams was counting the days to welcome home her pregnant daughter, her husband and their four-year-old son.
But she only got a closed casket with the body of her daughter Marwa al-Sherbini, who was stabbed to death by a German racist in a courtroom last week.
“My daughter was pregnant in her third month,” the heartbroken mother told Egypt’s Al-Masri Al-Youm daily on Sunday, July 5.
“I never imagined she would be a victim of terrorism and we would see her pictures in the media.”
Sherbini, 32, was stabbed to death by a 28-year German of Russian origin, in a courtroom in the eastern city of Dresden on Wednesday.
He stabbed her 18 times while her husband, who was preparing to discuss his Masters next month, was injured when he tried to intervene to protect her.
He is still in hospital, recovering from stab wounds and an accidental police gunshot.
Sherbini’s body has been taken back to her native Egypt for burial on Sunday. Senior Egyptian officials and German diplomatic staff attended the funeral on Monday in Alexandria along with hundreds of mourners.
“I never imagined that I will lose my daughter like this,” said her mother, with tears rolling down her checks.
“Instead of taking her into my arms and kissing her, I’m now receiving her in a casket.”
Many believe Sherbini was killed because of her hijab, an obligatory code of dress that every Muslim woman must wear.
“My sister was a martyr of hijab,” Tareq al-Sherbini told Al-Doustour, an Egyptain opposition daily.
He said his sister was harassed several times by the killer, who tried to remove her hijab by force.
The brother repeated accusations by Sherbini’s husband for the German police of leniency in protecting her.
The Egyptian woman was reportedly warned before the trial that she should take off her hijab to avoid being targeted.
“A day before the murder, a friend told Sherbini that she should remove her hijab as it poses danger to her life,” said Hisham Al-Askari, a Physics professor at Alexandria University and a friend of the family.
“She was told that she could lose her life because of her religiosity.”
Hijab has been the subject of heated political debate in Germany, home to 3.5 million Muslims.
Several German states have banned hijab for school teachers.
Dresden prosecutor Christian Avenarius said the killer, who immigrated to Germany in 2003, harbored a deep hatred of and contempt for Muslims.
“It was very clearly a xenophobic attack of a fanatical lone wolf.”