Cafe harassment demands careful handling

By Shan Renping Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/19 21:23:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


A woman alleged that she was sexually harassed in a cafe on the Bund in Shanghai recently, evoking a strong response on the Chinese Internet. She said the man sexually molested her and declared himself a Muslim from the Middle East. He then allegedly said he had many Muslim friends in the city. After she posted this story on Weibo, it went viral.

Shanghai Huangpu District police on Sunday announced they had detained a suspect. The police stated the drunk man who allegedly harassed the woman came from China. In the announcement, police did not clarify his identity. Nevertheless on the same day the woman posted that she was told by police he was Muslim.

The case triggered strong emotions among Internet users, most of whom immediately accepted her claim the man was Muslim. And they were even more unsatisfied by the deletion of her Weibo post and the police's failure to identify the suspect's alleged religion.

In this case, there are several points worth noting. First, regardless of the ethnicity or religion of a person involved in a crime, police should not be hesitant about dealing with him or her in accordance with law.

Second, with the implementation of rule of law police have become more objective in dealing with ethnic minority suspects, especially those of a Muslim identity.

Third, when reporting crimes involving Muslim suspects, especially Muslims from border areas, police still tend to conceal the suspects' ethnicity and religion, a practice that provokes strongly differing opinions.

Fourth, the reason police hold back information is that such crimes may have a negative effect on ethnic and religious harmony. Compared with the negative effect of concealing the information, the negative effect of exposing such information to the public will be much larger.

Fifth, some people hold that the Chinese government's protection of Muslims has created inequality. This has to be taken seriously. The global rift between Western and Islamic worlds influences some Chinese people.

Sixth, ethnic and religious policies can be discussed. But we must handle discontent toward these policies with restraint. We should believe in our government to properly deal with ethnic and religious issues. Ethnic and religious unity is an important and complex undertaking for all countries, requiring continuous efforts. Our country has tried hard to deal with this issue fairly. It is impractical for us to think a simple policy adjustment could create landmark changes.

Seventh, a matter-of-fact approach must be maintained toward crimes involving Muslim suspects. It's an individual issue that should be investigated for individual legal responsibility according to the law. In such a globally charged ideological atmosphere, China should avoid evaluating crimes with a Muslim-versus-non-Muslim mind-set. If we indulge in this kind of warped thinking, it will exert a profoundly negative effect on Chinese societal governance.

In our current era, people are unusually sensitive about matters involving Muslims. The issue automatically generates public debate. However, when this tendency becomes a trend, the negative effects far outweigh the positive. Thus when it comes to Muslims it is a necessity that we address misunderstandings and grievances promptly and efficiently to preserve long-term ethnic and religious unity.

The author is a commentator with the Chinese edition of the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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