Iran blasts Germany over court death

Ahmadinejad blames German "brutality" for pregnant Egyptian woman's stabbing; Merkel denies charges.

The stabbing of an Egyptian woman in a German court is proof of that country's "brutality," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said late Sunday, prompting a quick reaction from Germany which said Monday it did not tolerate hostility toward Islam. Marwa al-Sherbini, a pregnant 31-year-old, was stabbed 18 times in a Dresden court on July 1, where she was scheduled to testify against a man accused of insulting her with racial slurs. Her husband was critically wounded in the attack when he tried to intervene. The Iranian president referenced Iran's recent protests following the disputed presidential elections and said human rights groups were quick to criticize Iran then but have stayed silent after Sherbini's death. "This is an absolute proof of the brutality of the German government and proof to absolute corruption in Germany's judiciary system," Ahmadinejad told a cabinet meeting. In the aftermath of Sherbini's death, Iran has been the most vocal country in the region, at a time when the government is caught up in turmoil over the June 12 election and facing international criticism over its crackdown on postelection protests. Pro-government newspapers have been heavily covering her death, and on Friday worshippers in Teheran held a protest after weekly prayers. Many in the Egyptian media dubbed the woman "the headscarf martyr," and accused Germany of a low-key response to the attack. Ahmadinejad said the German government failed to react and called on the UN Security Council to condemn the incident. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference Monday that Germany does not tolerate hostility toward Islam. "What is important is that everyone who can speak for the German government has made it clear in the past days that in our country there is no tolerance of xenophobia, no tolerance of hostility toward Islam," spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a regular news conference Monday. Last week, Merkel expressed her condolences to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a summit in Italy and sent her top official for immigration affairs to offer sympathy to Sherbini's husband.