I was not surprised by the mass sexual attacks against German women during New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne. Shocked by the scale and the audacity of them, yes, but not remotely surprised. When Angela Merkel announced her decision to take in 800,000 refugees this summer, my sisters and I immediately predicted that this was going to lead to big problems for Western women.
In 1993, when I was 17 and my sister were 12 and 11, our family moved to the Turkish capital, Ankara, because of my father's job with the UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR. For the next two years we were leered at, jeered at, hissed at, groped and touched, again and again and again, every single time we left the house. The only time this treatment lessened was if we went out with my father. Once I was groped and hit in the face right outside the president's palace. The guards responded by hooting and laughing and shoving their pelvises at me.
Of course, not all Muslim men behave this way. Not all Muslim societies allow such misogynistic behaviour. I have never been insulted by, say, a sub-Saharan African Muslim or an Indonesian. But the confluence of certain cultural mores with particular interpretations of Islam, and particular understandings about Western women, can produce the toxic brew I've experienced.