German chancellor meets Egyptian counterpart

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BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her condolences to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over the brutal stabbing of a young Egyptian mother in a Dresden courtroom last week.

Merkel s spokesman Thomas Steg said Friday the chancellor had brought up the slaying of 32-year-old Marwa Al-Sherbini during her meeting with Mubarak at the Group of Eight summit in Italy on Thursday. Al-Sherbini was attacked by a Russian-born German during his trial on charges of insulting her with racial slurs.

The chancellor expressed her personal sympathy, as well as the condolences of the German people, Steg told reporters.

He said that Merkel had also sent her top official for immigration affairs to visit the victim s husband, injured while trying to protect his wife from the attack, in the hospital to personally bring him the condolences of the German government and people. The couple s three-year-old son was also in the courtroom and witnessed the July 1 attack.

The attacker, a Russian-born immigrant whose name has been given only as Alex W., has been detained and is under investigation on suspicion of murder. Charging a suspect typically takes months in Germany.

It is particularly important for us to make clear that the German government has reacted in many ways, Steg said. He repeated the government s position that such racially and ethnically motivated crimes have no place in modern Germany.

Egyptians have expressed outrage at the attack and charged the German response has been too little, too late and serves as an example of racism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

The Central Council of Muslims had called for Imams in Germany to remember Al-Sherbini and her family in their Friday prayers.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his condolences to Al-Sherbini s family and the Egyptian people in a letter to his Egyptian counterpart.

I assure that we do everything possible to prevent such crimes, Steinmeier wrote. We stand behind the belief that every person feels safe in Germany, regardless of their ethnic background, nationality or religious beliefs. -AP

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