Three men associated with the Jordanian Paralympic squad were arrested in Northern Ireland on Monday the 20th of August 2012, following allegations of sexual assault on several women and children. The team is staying in County Antrim, leading up to the Paralympics in London next week.
The story of the arrest seems to have first appeared rather late the following day. Initially the reports only stated that it involved three women.
However, reports the day after (Wednesday the 22nd) now state that two of the three men have been charged with sexual offences involving children, one man exclusively so:
A Google search reveals that the story hasn’t made it around the world, with the exception of a few US reports, and a short report in Ynet.
Considering the serious nature of the story, as well as its international dimension, it is odd how muted the reporting has been, especially in the UK and Ireland. For example, the initial report on Tuesday evening disappeared from the state broadcaster RTE’s teletext service after a relatively short period of time, and after having been given a very low news ranking (number 14 or 15 out of 16 listed stories). It has been given a similarly low ranking today (a drop from number 13 to 16 before again disappearing from the listings in the early afternoon), which is odd considering the revelation that the story involves children.
Could it be another example of the media’s reticence toward anything very controversial that could be linked with Muslims, as illustrated by the obfuscatory British media reports that continually substituted the word “Muslim” with “Asian”? It is difficult to say with any certainty but the muted media reaction is odd to say the least.
Additional information has since emerged after a court hearing in Londonderry earlier today. The three accused have been granted bail. They are:
His fellow powerlifter Motaz Al-Junaidi, 45, faces one charge of sexual assault against a woman.
Trainer Faisal Hammash, 35, has been charged with two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The story seems to have gained greater attention from the mainstream media (including RTE), perhaps after the court heard that King Abdullah II had taken an interest in the case, perhaps due to its potential for embarrassment:
The Arab administration promised to bring the men back before the court in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, if bail was granted, district judge Richard Wilson was told. […]
A representative of the Jordanian government, counsellor Rulan Samara from the London embassy, told the court: "His majesty the King of Jordan (King Abdullah the Second) was inquiring about the matter and was asking about all the details."
A similar article is also published at the Iconoclast.