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In the middle of the crisis that has been taking place in Iran following the recent presidential elections, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad found the time to comment on the crime that took place in a German courtroom last week.

This crime which saw young Egyptian pharmacist Marwa al-Sherbini murdered [by the German neighbor that she was testifying against] must have reminded Ahmadinejad of the young Iranian Neda [Agha Soltan] who was killed during the protests that followed the announcement of his election victory, and which have come to be known as the Green Revolution.

In his comments, Ahmadinejad laid the blame for this crime on the German government, and criticized US President Obama, the European leadership, and the UN Secretary-General. He called on them to condemn Germany, saying “When there is a small incident in a country which is opposing them, they adopt resolutions against it, but they do not respect the minimum rights of people in their own countries.” The conclusion that can be drawn from Ahmadinejad’s statement is that he is making reference to young Iranian Neda, describing her death that resulted in an international outcry after video images of it were viewed around the world as a “small incident.”

The comments made by Ahmadinejad are just one example of the many responses to the crime that resulted in the death of the Egyptian chemist. Many of these responses were justifiably angry but ultimately it must be remembered that this was an unprecedented crime carried out by one individual. However other responses by groups and individuals were merely an attempt to politically exploit this crime and inflame public opinion in an attempt to create external enemies and a state of permanent suspicion that serves their own agenda which in reality has internal objectives, not external ones. In the case of Iran, Ahmadinejad found an issue to distract the Iranian public from the internal crisis taking place in the country and the criticism that Iran has faced for the manner in which it handled the post-election crisis.

What happened in the German courtroom is a heinous crime by any human standards, and the killer – according to the facts – is an individual full of hatred and racism, and it is very likely that he is insane. These kinds of crimes take everybody by surprise, and it is unusual to hear of a case where a defendant in court attacks [and kills] the complainant in this manner, especially in a civil court under relaxed security.

However regardless of the severity of the crime and the manner in which it occurred, it should not be politically exploited to incite racial hatred and encourage destruction and anger, especially as there is no specific target for this. In the end, a crime can only be blamed upon the perpetrator and he will be tried in court for this; nobody will benefit from the incitement of racial tensions as this does not resolve anything.

There is another dimension to this case that has been touched upon by some Human Rights groups and media agencies regarding the climate that leads to the emergence of a person capable of committing such a crime, and the increasing racism that is seen during this time of crisis and unemployment, as well as the stereotypes that revolve around Muslims and Islam. This is an issue that needs to be calmly discussed and resolved, but it seems that racism is part of the human condition. Racism creates imaginary enemies out of a fear of a difference in race, religion, or culture. However the single human reality since the beginning of human civilization is that of diversity and multiplicity. The only antidote to racism is to work towards mastering the concepts of tolerance, dialogue, and communication.

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat's deputy editor-in-chief. He is based in London.

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