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French prosecutors charge Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan with rape

© Benoît Fauchet, AFP | Ramadan during a conference in Bordeaux, March 26 2016.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-02-03

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan was charged with rape on Friday, a judicial source said, following claims by two women that he assaulted them in French hotel rooms in 2009 and 2012.

Ramadan, who was arrested by French police on January 28, has now been charged with connected charges of rape and rape of a vulnerable person, a judicial source said.

The accused, a Swiss citizen and the grandson of the founder of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement, has furiously denied rape allegations from two women, which emerged late last year, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfurled in the US.

In November, Oxford University announced that 55-year-old Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, "by mutual agreement".

‘He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die’

Henda Ayari, a feminist activist, says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012, while an unnamed disabled woman also accused the academic of raping her in a hotel room in Lyon in 2009.

Popular among conservative Muslims and a regular panellist on TV debates in France, Ramadan faces regular accusations from secular critics that he promotes a political form of Islam.

Ayari, a self-described "secular Muslim" who used to practise an ultra-conservative strain of Islam that she has since renounced, detailed her rape allegations in a book published last year, without naming Ramadan.

But in October she said she had decided to name him publicly, encouraged by the thousands of women speaking out against sexual assault and harassment under the "Me Too" online campaign and its French equivalent, "Balance Ton Porc" (Squeal on your pig).

Ayari, who lodged a rape complaint against Ramadan on October 20, charged that for him, "either you wear a veil or you get raped".

"He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die," she told Le Parisien newspaper.

A controversial media figure

Since emerging on the European media scene, Ramadan has faced accusations of hiding a religious fundamentalist agenda behind his liberal discourse.

In 2016, he denounced what he saw as "nauseating remarks" and “structural racism” against Muslims in France during "speeches on the deprivation of nationality". He then announced that he would apply for French citizenship, in order to "give a concrete and positive example of adherence to the values ​​of the Republic".

In response, then French prime minister Manuel Valls said that there was "no reason" to grant this request, because, as he saw it, Ramadan’s values are "contradictory" with those of the French Republic.

Ramadan has denied accusations of Islamic fundamentalism, saying that he encourages young Muslims to become involved in society, that the wearing of the veil is a matter of individual freedom, that he rejects armed jihad and that he supports a "contextualising" reading of Islam’s sacred texts.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2018-02-02

  • FRANCE

    Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan detained in Paris on rape accusations

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  • UK

    Oxford academic Tariq Ramadan takes leave over sex abuse probes

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  • UK-France

    Alleged victim details rape claims against Oxford professor

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