Series of sexual attacks in Europe, particularly in Cologne, on New Year Eve caution that the Arabian culture of ‘Taharrush Gamea’, collective harassment, where large gangs of men attack and even rape women during major events, has now spread to the continent.
On New Year’s Eve, 1,000 perverted men descended into the German town of Cologne to carry out widespread sexual attacks and robberies solelytargeted at women. The police have received reports from over 500 women describing horrific details of how they were surrounded by groups of men of Arab/North African origin who then groped, sexually assaulted and in some cases, raped them. When they tried to defend themselves, they were robbed of their belongings. A timeline of the sickening attacks has now emerged where the attacks took place from 10.15 pm till 4.15 am. In addition to Cologne, a similar series of sexual assaults and robberies took place in the German city of Hamburg where police received 50 complaints. German cities Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin and also the Swiss city Zurich also had reports of similar sexual attacks taking place. It is now evident that the attacks formed part of a coordinated plan.
Many are angered that the news of these attacks in Cologne took several days to surface. The authorities were accused of covering up these atrocities due to fears that the sex attacks would be linked to the refugee crisis, as all victims described the men as being of Arab/North African descent. The Cologne police chief was removed from his post due to public anger of a police cover-up of asylum-seekers’ involvement in the attacks. The cover-up also bears similarities to that of the Rotherham child sex abuse case in the UK, where men of Pakistani-heritage sexually abused 1,400 young girls for 16 years without punishment. The authorities were fearful of appearing racist and hid the ethnicity of the perpetrators in the interests of so called ‘community cohesion’.
Whist there have been repercussions to the migrant community in Germany with vigilante and far right-wing gangs seeking revenge attacks, the voices of the victims need to be heard and the authorities should be taking strict action to ensure that these abhorrent incidents are never repeated.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas also stated at a press conference on the attacks that, “making this an issue by over-simplifications, and connecting it to the refugee issue is nothing but a misuse of the discussion.” If that is so then we need to ask ourselves the question that why have attacks of this nature and scale never happened before? Why is it that these attacks have only happened at the end of last year when the figure of migrants entering Germany was 1.1 million? Last year, Germany received the highest number of new asylum applications where German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to put a cap on migrants and had an open door policy.
Ralf Jaeger, interior minister from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia told a special commission on the Cologne violence that based on testimony from witnesses, the report from the Cologne police and descriptions by the federal police, it looks as if people with a migration background were almost exclusively responsible for the criminal acts. All signs point to these being North Africans and people from the Arab world. Based on what we know now from the investigation, asylum seekers who arrived in the past year are among the suspects. Whilst all refugees are not criminals and rapists, unfortunately the evidence speaks for itself where all those that carried out the disgusting crimes on New Years Eve were of Arab/North African migrant backgrounds.
In an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the main investigative authority in Germany said mass sex attacks are a well-known phenomenon in ‘Arabic culture,’ where it even has a specific name ‘Taharrush Gamea.’ The name translates to ‘collective harassment’ where a large group of men surround their victim and sexually assault or rape her. Taharrush Gamea takes place at large gatherings where the perpetrators are harder to catch due to the large crowds and chaos. This holds true where in Cologne, only 21 arrests were made despite over 500 reports being made to the police. The sick Taharrush Gamea was witnessed in huge numbers during the Arab Spring, where Human Rights Watch reported that 91 women were raped or sexually assaulted in public in Tahrir Square in June 2013, during the height of the Arab Spring. Many would remember the sickening scenes of CBS reporter Lara Logan who was brutally sexually assaulted by 200 men while reporting on celebrations in Tahrir Square in 2011.
The bitter truth is that instead of respecting the culture and moral values of the West, some of those that have come from Arab/North African countries have also brought with them their misogynistic mindset and disgust for gender equality. Instead of sending out a strong message of strict punishment or deportation to those who violate not only German laws,but also basic human rights, it seems that those in position of authority are afraid of upsetting migrant communities. In Poking, a Bavarian town, the headmaster of the grammar school wrote a letter to parents last summer telling them at due to 200 migrants being put up in the school’s gym “modest clothing should be adhered to, in order to avoid discrepancies. Revealing tops or blouses, short shorts or miniskirts could lead to misunderstandings.” Instead of the migrants adapting to the German way of life, it seems that the culture of the migrants were being enforced upon those around them. Cologne Mayor, Henriette Reker, also prompted huge ridicule and criticism where she recently advised women to remain at “an arm’s length” from strangers in order to prevent sexual assault.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that deportation ought to immediately follow infringement of German law by refugees, however it is questionable whether human rights laws will undermine this. European countries that previously welcomed refugees are now beginning to act more cautiously. Germany is refusing more migrants entry at its southern border and Sweden and Denmark have tightened their borders.
Whilst previously, David Cameron was heavily criticised by the public for failing to take on refugees en masse, people in Britain are now thankful that Cameron didn’t succumb to EU pressure and emotional blackmail following the widely circulated images of drowning refugees. Instead of opening the borders to young virile men, Cameron announced a five-year programme where 20,000 refugees will be taken in from the camps on the borders of Syria.
The horrific large-scale sexual assaults that took place in Europe on New Years Eve serve as a reminder that some cultures and backward mindsets do not integrate into modern civil societies. Whilst in Europe, citizens are working hard to protect women’s rights and to promote gender equality, it is evident that there are those who are determined to undermine the values of their host nation. Instead of supposedly seeking sanctuary from war-torn countries, some migrants are abusing their status and attacking vulnerable women. Comments that put the onus and blame on women such as failing to keep men “at arm’s length” and wearing less ‘provocative clothing’ only plays into the hands of these criminals. In order to prevent these misogynists succeed in bringing Europe in line with their home countries, we need to stop covering up these despicable acts and stop blaming the victims.
Prerna Lau Sian (The London based writer is a Barrister, writer, broadcaster on Nusound Radio 92FM, committee member of the Hindu Lawyers Association )