More news outlets are picking up on the phenomenon of ‘taharrush’ – mass sexual assault of women at crowded events in the Arab world – but at the Spectator, Dan Hitchens thinks some of the reporting may be a bit ‘overexcited’.
Breitbart London first brought the term to the attention of the English-speaking world last Sunday following the mass sex assaults in Germany in New Year’s Eve.
So far, over 600 complaints have been received from women who say they were harassed, but nonetheless the Spectator thinks people may still be ‘overexcited’.
Dan Hitchens quotes a Guardian journalist, Heather McRobie, who says that any concern over ‘taharrush’ by anyone other than the liberal-left is really just ‘feigned’ to ‘propagate racism’.
Some news reports have said vaguely that this is an ‘Arab phenomenon’ which is ‘recognized in Egypt’. What about other countries? This is pertinent since Egyptians are not especially well-represented among migrants in Germany and Sweden. But outside Egypt – say, in Afghanistan and Syria – reports of this kind of assault are harder to find. According to McRobie, Egypt was exceptional in the region: there are no similar accounts from Tunisia in 2011-13, for instance – although that country also has serious problems with sexual harassment and assault.
So based on what we actually know, the link between the Cologne and Sweden stories and recent Middle Eastern history is not as clear-cut as has been suggested. McRobie says: ‘it would be disingenuous to pretend that violence against women isn’t an issue in the Middle East/Arab world – the whole region has a terrible track record.’ At the same time, she adds, violence against women is also at epidemic levels in Western societies – and ‘there is a danger that the real tragedy of violence against women is being instrumentalised by those who do not sincerely care about sexual violence, but only feign concern in order to propagate racism’.
Taharrush gamea shouldn’t be ruled out as a factor; but given what we know so far, some of the news reporting and the social media hubbub seems a little over-excited.
As Breitbart London’s Raheem Kassam said: