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Taharrush Gamea: has a new form of sexual harassment arrived in Europe?

14 January 2016

12:27 PM

14 January 2016

12:27 PM

The Swedish and German authorities say they have never encountered anything like it: groups of men encircling then molesting women in large public gatherings. It happened in Cologne and Stockholm, but is it really unprecedented? Ivar Arpi argues in the new Spectator that it may well be connected to a phenomenon called ‘taharrush gamea’, a form of group harassment previously seen in Egypt.

So what is taharrush gamea, and should Western police be worried? Here’s what we know.

‘Taharrush’ means sexual harassment – it’s a relatively modern word, which political scholar As’ad Abukhalil says dates back to at least the 1950s. ‘Gamea’ just means ‘collective’. Taharrush gamea came to attention in Egypt in 2005, when female protesters against the Mubarak government were sexually assaulted by plain-clothes policemen. Many subsequent cases were political in nature, but not all: as Mariam Kirollos writes, in 2006 ‘Egyptian bloggers reported cases of group sexual assault in downtown Cairo, where large groups of men groped veiled and unveiled women, and in some cases ripped their clothes off’. There were also cases of rape.


After the revolution in 2011, the attacks became more organised. The following year, volunteer groups of men began patrolling parts of Cairo to protect women from collective assaults. These became horribly frequent: in summer 2013, in the ten days around the time President Morsi was deposed, there were 186 documented cases of mob harassment, assault and rape.

Heather McRobie, a journalist and academic previously based in Egypt, says some of the assaults in Tahrir Square were co-ordinated political attacks – the authorities wanted to make the square unsafe, and to drive out women. ‘Some were also opportunistic, like at a festival – lots of people, easy to get lost in the crowd, and men can take advantage of that situation.’

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’.

There are other possible factors in the Cologne and Sweden attacks: the sociologist Valerie Hudson has observed that male migrants greatly outnumber female ones – a population imbalance strongly associated with increased crime.

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.

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Show comments
  • Marcus Druse

    Everyone needs to learn how to safeguard themselves against Taharrush Gamea, Follow the link for more information.

  • Eclectic Vibrations

    I’m sick to my back teeth of claims like “violence against women is also at epidemic levels in Western societies”. This is laughably unfounded and hateful to suggest that it’s so. The expectation of personal safety for everyone, men and women, has been rising incrementally over the past century. Claims to the contrary are insulting and stink of an agenda to mitigate a justified resentment over our societies being flooded with people who have a drastically different way of life than ours.

  • Caroline Burton

    There’s a recognisable thread here; first it’s the Muslims, then it’s
    the immigrants, then it’s the refugees, then it’s the liberal lefties,
    then it’s the environmentalists, and oh yes, let’s not forget the EU.
    And they said WWII was the war to end all wars – they didn’t take human
    nature into account. This is exactly how Hitler marginalised the Jews.

  • Heinz Stiller

    So, it’s all a little exaggerated? Because sexual harassment is common in our Western societies? Strange. When I ask my mother, my 4 aunts, or my wife (quite a good-looking chinese girl) or her female friends, they know nothing of permanent and ubiquitous sexual harassment in Western Europe. Have they missed something? They are even so impertinent to laugh about such stories. Whom should I believe? Feminists or my relatives and friends? Feminists don’t lie, or do they?

  • Cobbett

    Who gives a fcuk what it’s called…get them out of Europe.

  • WTF

    Gang rapes on underage girls didn’t exist in Britain until it was exposed in Rotherham and had been going on for 10+ years. Of course this sexual harassment has been going on for years its just never been exposed so vividly before on the public stage. When liberals embolden male migrants with special treatment creating an Islamic Apartheid and segregation that benefits them, of course they’ll take the p*** and behave in this manner.

  • Mr B J Mann

    Is this Dan Hitchens Hitchens Junior to Hitchens Minor to Peter Hitchens?!

  • Xen Mistress

    So is sexual harassment, assault, and rape acceptable now?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      From Muslim immigrant perverts protected from the police by HMG and shielded by cowardly MSM journalists, yes.

  • Patrick Roy

    If you import millions of single testosterone-filled males, what do you think will happen? The failings to understand the basics of cause and effect are absolutely mind-boggling.

  • A real liberal

    Change a few details and some timing and this article could have published about Rotherham a few years ago. Disgraceful excusing complacency.

  • Tamerlane

    More cultural enrichment! We lucky few!

  • Sue Smith

    Ssshhh!! Don’t mention it and it will go away!!!

  • Terenc Blakely

    Your dear leaders are perfectly willing to sacrifice your women and children upon the PC alter. Wasn’t Rotherham sufficient evidence? I’m curious, has any official in Rotherham been punished for allowing children to be raped for over a decade by ‘Asians’.

  • Opal

    “Eve Teasing” in Islamic Pakistan is the same thing.

  • Radford_NG

    The Establishment has orchestrated the mass immigration of hundreds of thousands of unemployed EUROPEANS into Britain;many overqualified for the jobs they do here.The vast majority of them are single young men.
    At the same time The Ruling Caste,lead by Harriet Harman,has effectively made it illegal to approach a pruzt-t-te for zex in a public place.This has not lead to cases of mass assault.
    (The white-slave-trade is being carried on from the long established persons of Mirpuri heritage.)

    Europe has allowed in hundreds of thousands of single young men recently with few skills and from territories from the Atlantic to the Kyber whose none Judo- Christian populations have always been hostile to Europeans.And we see what has happened.

  • TonyB

    BS… It’s an Islamic barbarian thing… They look at the world through Dark Age eyes… And call it culture.. If ANY group refuses change, it becomes STAGNANT and, hopefully, OBSOLETE…

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    ‘Over-excited’? Hardly.

    Not excited enough!

    Time to act against the migrant-invaders and their domestic apologists.

    • Mary Ann

      Well there is an election in another 4 years so start a new political party, kick all the migrants out, BTW, what are you planning to do against those who have married into the local population, or are you simply planning to kill them all.

  • musosnoop

    Folks you will start seeing more and more journalists like this rotten to the core coward who is hedging his bets for the future. It wont work, they will kill him to no matter how much he claims he supported Muslim invasion, rape of our women, killing of our men and Sharia implementation
    Believe me now – this man is a moral and physical coward. He is the ilk who will never defend a woman, his country, or his culture.
    Ignore these weak men for they will be among the first to fall. Do not follow them for they will lead you to your death. Your survival instinct should be burning bright red now – this man doesn’t possess the survival gene and he knows it.

  • Opal

    To the writer: If you haven’t been a white woman living or working in the Middle east, you really don’t know what you are talking about. I have, and you haven’t. This is what MENA men do to European women, in the street, on public transport, anywhere they can. They will even do it to you when they are students you are teaching, if they think they can get away with it. They don’t do it to their own women because punishment would be swift and severe in their countries, and because they consider white western infidel women to be wh@res.

  • jeffersonian


    Wonder what the view will be when one of the author’s female friends or family experience something similar.

  • Space 1999

    Here in the UK, I wonder if Cameron could have survived this?

    Lets 1.1 million people of a very different culture in, all at once. Grandstands and prances around in a holier than thou way.

    Attacks on women and crime soar. Police try to cover up. Finally gets so bad that people come forward to protest. 1000s of riot Police present on protest march, when only hundreds protect British women. Mass outbreak of truth, when people come forward to say what’s really happening.

    Wouldn’t we be calling for him to go by now?

  • Mary Ann
  • Bubbs

    You only authenticate this appalling behaviour by using their name for these attacks. I won’t, I will call it what it is, shameless,rape of women, their person & their space.Humiliation on a scale unknown in Europe.
    Before long we will hear of children suffering the same…as is within the same ‘culture’.
    Importing such disgusting behaviour all those responsible should be charged with dereliction of duty.

    The first & primary purpose of government is to keep the country & its people safe……..clearly all have failed abysmally.
    Nor do governments show any concern,,quite the opposite in fact, they wanted it all covered up,this indicates the sheer stupidity & ignorance in this media/technological age.
    Excuses & muttering about ‘perhaps’ deporting offenders is nowhere near enough,we need positive,assertive & immediate action.
    Not one politician has resigned or apologised for the gross error, made by politicians, now seen right across Europe.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    No dogs or Muslims.

    • jeffersonian

      That’s a bit harsh on our canine friends.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        But they do crap everywhere. The dogs, too.

  • jpt4w

    Under excited I’d say – there should be riots.

  • Dai

    Over-excited? Over 600 complaints from victims of violent criminal behavior in one Western city centre – mostly young females – and this spineless excuse for a journalist wants to play it down. lugenpresse#

  • Chris

    Dan Hitchens; another useful idiot telling us that everything is fine as our society burns around us.

    Let’s ask Lara Logan of CBS (assaulted in Tahrir Square in 2011), or the unnamed Dutch journalist who was gang-r@ped in Tahrir Square 2013 (there is video of the incident) if the reportage on this phenomenon is “a little over-excited.”

    Ctrl+F: “Lara”, “Logan” or “dutch journalist”. 0 results in article.

  • Mrbill

    Better get your guns back. IF you know how

  • Totes

    A disgraceful article. & “At the same time, [McRobie] adds, violence against women is also at epidemic levels in Western societies”? What a fool. Also, the original title is still in the URL you cowards.

    • Mary Ann

      So English men don’t batter their wives. interesting.

      • Totes

        I guess “epidemic” means something different to you, then. Like, a cholera “epidemic” isn’t that some guy on your street has it. It means rapidly spreading (the opposite is true of male on female violence in the West), infectious (not even by analogy), & a large number of people (so give me the percentage and tell me you believe that it’s large).

        I stand by “fool”, but you can join her if you like.

  • blank

    Europe is done for. Thanks, lefties

  • Andy Hall

    Of course had one of the victims been a close female relative of yours you would still have written this patronising crap?