The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Nearly 300 teens arrested on Cairo's streets for harassment

Completely surreal:

Egyptian police announced Wedneday they had arrested more than 550 teenagers suspected of sexually harassing girls outside schools in several Cairo districts in a single day. The culprits were awaiting interrogation and trial Thursday.

The police launched an extensive clampdown targeting stores and internet cafes near schools. Security forces raided six internet cafes that did not have permits, and another five that played pornographic videos for truants, according to a statement issued by the Cairo Security Department on the day of the crackdown.

After many families complained about girls being targeted outside schools in several neighborhods the head of the Cairo Investigations Bureau, General Farouk Lashin, launched a campaign against sexual harassment, an interior Ministry source told

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that most of the harassers were between 16 and 18 years old.

According to the source police launched an earlier campaign that resulted in the arrest of almost 300 people for harassment in Cairo streets.

And I'm sure these arrests have nothing to do with the fact that Egypt has become so synonymous with sexual harassment that it's become a major topic of discussion in newspapers, the topic of travel warnings in foreign newspapers, and of course that it's reached the ears of a certain First Lady.

The authorities are serious about making sure that boys behave themselves? Great. But this looks like the random arrest of the first youths that came across zealous officers, probably many of them the usual suspects who get arrested every time there's a crime in their neighborhood, and this will be a one-off action on the part of authorities that won't ever be followed through with awareness campaigns and a more consistent to preventing and punishing harassment. I hope to be proved wrong on this, but I won't be holding my breath.