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By Bettina Borgfeld
DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) - An Egyptian man described for a German court on Monday how his pregnant wife was stabbed to death before his eyes in a courtroom four months ago in a case that incensed the Muslim world and shocked Germany.
The murder of 31-year-old Marwa El-Sherbiny, the mother of a 3-year-old, prompted accusations that Germany tolerated xenophobia and anti-Islamic views and sparked protests in Egypt and Iran.
The attacker, a German of Russian origin named Alex Wiens, stands accused of murder and attempted murder. Wiens, 28, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Suspected of being a right-wing radical, Wiens also stabbed Sherbiny's husband, Elwy Okaz. German police then shot Okaz in the leg, having mistaken him for the attacker.
"It's quite clear that he was motivated by a fanatic hatred of foreigners," state prosecutor Christian Avenarius said of Wiens.
Okaz appeared on crutches on Monday for the first day of the trial, held in the same eastern city of Dresden where the July attack occurred. The attack took place in another courthouse.
"He had to testify about the death of his wife," Avenarius told Reuters. "Everyone in the courtroom was really shocked by his account, it was upsetting."
Security is tight, with about 200 police officers securing the court and the accused, whose hands and feet were chained together, sitting behind bulletproof glass.
The defendant, who hid his face under a hood and baseball cap, declined to speak and was fined for refusing to take off his sunglasses, a court spokesman said.
The killing took place in a court where the alleged attacker was appealing a conviction for insulting Sherbiny by calling her an "Islamist," "terrorist" and "slut" when she asked him to make room for her son to play on swings in a playground.
"We're following the trial with great interest, in particular because our women and girls are afraid and already feel discriminated against," said Ayyub Axel Koehler, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany.
Germany, which has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France, was criticised for taking several days to condemn the murder.
Media in Islamic countries have closely covered the death of Sherbiny. Some have described the veiled woman as a martyr. A verdict was expected by November 11.
(Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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