Sexual assault on New Year's Eve in Milan: wrong to keep silent about the origins of the attackers

Overlooking the fact that they were young North Africans prevents a clear reading of what happened. And it exercises the correctness of reception in the skin of women. The parallel with the events in Cologne in 2016 and the opinion of German feminist Alice Schwartzer
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A few days ago, five girls on the train returning from Gardaland were sexually and verbally assaulted by a pack of at least thirty young men of North African origin (the here). A very similar dynamic to the events of New Year's Eve 2021 in Milan (and New Year's Eve 2016 in Cologne). The things to be said are always the same, and we reiterate them for you. It is no longer possible, out of correctness, to pretend that the problem does not exist. Women are not prey.

Violence, a function of male dominance, has no nationality.

But silence or glossing over the origins of the members of the gang that attacked at least nine girls in Milan on New Year's Eve (all young North Africans or Italians of North African origin, here one of the videos) is wrong for at least two reasons: the first is that removes elements necessary for a clear reading of what has happened; the second, that the correctness of reception cannot be exercised over the skin of women.

The phenomenon of collective harassment of a woman (taḥarrush jamāʿī) would be widespread in the Arab world.

Years ago The Swedish police had admitted that they kept silent about the origins of many perpetrators of rape and harassment in order not to offer arguments to the right, only to realise that these omissions actually play into the hands of xenophobes. Of the 842 men convicted of rape or attempted rape in the last five years, as detected by a service broadcast by the public television broadcaster Svt Nyheter, 58% were of foreign origin -Middle East and North Africa, Southern Africa and other non-European countries. 

The events in Milan are strikingly reminiscent of New Year's Eve 2016 in Cologne and other German cities. It is therefore worth proposing some reflections published on that occasion which also apply to New Year's Eve in Milan.

Followed by ainterview with Alice Schwartzer, German feminist and founder of the magazine Emma.


Violenze sessuali di Capodanno a Milano: sbagliato tacere sulle origini degli aggressori

The greatest danger we face after the events in Cologne -a thousand 'Arabs and North Africans' who, on New Year's Eve, attacked all the women they encountered in the streets, 90 complaints of harassment, 2 rapes - is the undervaluation (similar incidents also occurred in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart).

It was a act of guerrilla warfare organised, energized by alcohol and barrels, in which women played the part of the prey, as always in circumstances of war. In fact, it was much more than that. The marauders stole and they harassed: there was no difference between the things and the women. If the attacks in Paris were spoken of as an act of jihad in the heart of Europe, the events in Cologne should be spoken of as an act of jihad in the heart of Europe. Tahir Square exported to GermanyNot Tahir Square of the Arab Spring, where women participated as equals in the 'revolutionary' uprisings, but Tahir Square immediately afterwards, where women were harassed, insulted, humiliated and groped in order to brutally return them to their state of illiberty.

All of us have been harassed at least once in our lives. And the message is clear to us: you are only one thing at my disposal, especially if you walk the streets alone, showing that you don't belong to any man; no freedom is allowed to you, except to surrender yourself to a master, and if you don't do that, if you think you can be autonomous, earn your own bread, drive your own car, dress as you like, you are just a whore at my disposal. And you have to be afraid.

'Being a woman is dangerous everywhere', as Mona Eltahawy writes ('Why do they hate us'): it must become so again in Germany, in Europe too. This is the message that had to be sent, and it has arrived.. The babbling of the poor mayor of Cologne (the advice to her fellow citizens to 'keep an arm's length, EineArmlaengeby strangers) are there to prove it. The danger of being born a womanthe fear that must follow - i.e. the precise inversion of the fear that men feel of maternal power and unlimited female enjoyment - is the ineliminable foundation of patriarchy, the heart of the male question. If one woman shows no fear, the whole system is at risk of collapse.

The men of Cologne were not poor sexual abstainers Rape and molestation are only pseudo-sexual acts, what is sought is not pleasure but domination and the symbolic murder of the prey. The men of Cologne andwere men who put things right, reaffirming a system of values, and which in the posture of dominance - male on top, female on the bottom - finds its foundation, its seal, its guarantee. The men of Cologne wanted to teach the men of Germany a lesson, who let their women boss them around, who even have a female premier. Something similar to the ethnic rapes.

As I was saying, it is a question of not underestimating: to pretend that the men of Cologne are not so different from the Oktoberfest drunks is to leave the xenophobic right exclusively in charge of interpreting the event and imagining political responses. And the males of the xenophobic right are certainly not champions of female freedom.

It's about being able to read what happened on New Year's Eve. without seeking shelter in the rhetoric of correctness. Or, worse, by setting up pathetic and self-consoling diatrologies, such as: it was all organised, even the non-intervention of the police, so that they could restrict reception policies, and other similar nonsense.

Let's stick to certain things. And one thing that is certain, as we have always said, is that the woman's body is the ultimate battlefield. What happens to the Yazidis, Syrians and Saudis concerns us, it is much closer than we would like to believe. E Reducing our claims to freedom, even by the size of an arm, means reducing theirs as well.

Keeping women at the centre - starting with reception policies - is a very first, inescapable response. There is no one more refugee than them.

Marina Terragni


Violenze sessuali di Capodanno a Milano: sbagliato tacere sulle origini degli aggressori

Alice Schwarzer, German feminist historian, publishes a book-denunciation. The police concealed the origin of the suspicions. And the law does not punish 'harassment'. A bit Emma Bonino, a bit Oriana Fallaci, Alice Schwarzer is an undisputed protagonist in the history of German and European feminism. A pro-abortion, anti-pornography and anti-prostitution activist, Schwarzer is tireless: she founded the magazine Emma, has written 16 books, some of which have been translated into many languages... Now she is back with a new book: the trigger was the group harassment on New Year's Eve in her home town of Cologne by thousands of North Africans of hundreds of women who took to the streets to celebrate the New Year.

Why a new book?
"In the weeks following New Year's Eve, journalists from all over the world came to Emma's newsroom, a 15-minute walk from Cologne station. They asked many different questions, but they all asked one. "Why is it that nobody in Germany wants to understand the political dimension of the night of horror? And I ask myself that too. It had never happened before in Germany or in Europe that the main square of a city became a lawless place where thousands of men could attack hundreds of women for hours. To date, 625 complaints of sexual harassment have been registered in Cologne alone. In addition, that night, two issues that I have been working on for 40 years exploded with virulence: sexual violence and the politicisation of Islam.

Despite harassment in the hundreds, hardly any of the perpetrators fell foul of the law.
"I assume that not a single one of those offenders will be convicted; and I say this for two reasons. Firstly, these methods of aggression make it very difficult to arrest a single person. There were between a thousand and two thousand men on the square that night: from the herd, small groups of six, seven, eight individuals would break away, surround the women, chase away any companions, and mistreat their victims. Then, as fast as lightning, they would merge back into the mass. In this way, it is very difficult for investigators to recognise the individual and prove responsibility. Secondly, in Germany today, mere sexual 'harassment' is not a criminal offence. Rape - i.e. penetration - is, but groping is not. Therefore, even if one of the perpetrators were proven guilty, he would have little to fear.

Do you believe in the political will of some who would have tried to hide or conceal the foreign origin of the harassers?
"Yes, and there are many signs and indications about this. Already in 2008 in North Rhine-Westphalia (the Land with Cologne, ed.) a ministerial circular was issued recommending not to disclose the ethnic origin of apprehended criminals. And for decades now, the police in Cologne have had a climate of political correctness, dictated by the fear of being accused of racism.

But does Islam belong to Germany or not?
"What does 'Islam' mean? There is no single answer because there are hundreds of ways of interpreting it and living it. Islam as a faith belongs to the private sphere and is obviously compatible with the German way of life. Islam as a political strategy, on the other hand, is not compatible, because for Islamism the sharia is superior to the law, and women inferior to men."

Do you think the full veil should be banned? Also the chain with the cross?
"Do you feel like joking? A cross on the neck is in no way comparable to the full veil, which is disabling and inhuman. In Islamic regimes or where terror reigns, women risk their lives if they do not wear the burqa. The process of making women invisible is the lowest level of vilification of them. And as for the cross: I am totally in favour of banning all religious symbols in schools: both the veil and the crucifix on the wall. But the fact that today's Western political leaders visiting Tehran are covering their heads is pathetic; and it is a betrayal of millions of women who are instead obliged to wear the veil".

How do you think the government and civil society should address the problem of violence against women?
"I belong to a generation of feminists who have been fighting against sexual violence for over 40 years: from sexual abuse to rape, from prostitution to sex murder. And of course also against German-led violence. We haven't achieved everything yet, but we have done a lot: we certainly don't want to go backwards'.

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