Middle East studies in the News
I'm the victim of public lynching, says Oxford don 'rape victim': French writer who accused professor of sex attack is branded a liar as she warns of 'David and Goliath' battle to prove her claims [on Tariq Ramadan]
by Ben Wilkinson and Emily Kent Smith
A writer who accused an Oxford professor of rape says she has become a victim of a 'public lynching campaign'.
Henda Ayari, 41, says she faces a 'David and Goliath battle' after making allegations on Facebook against Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan.
The academic, who advised the Government and has appeared on television as an expert commentator on Islam, has vehemently denied claims he attacked her in Paris five years ago.
He is today expected to file a defamation lawsuit in France against his accuser.
French writer Miss Ayari revealed the alleged attack on social media amid an outpouring of women sharing their stories online following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
She made a formal complaint to prosecutors in Rouen, Normandy on Friday.
Miss Ayari claimed she was raped by Mr Ramadan in a Paris hotel in 2012, but insists she was too scared to speak up until now.
The divorced mother-of-three also accused the contemporary Islamic studies professor of threatening her children to stop her from going to the police.
Supporters yesterday started a fundraising campaign to help her legal fight, while critics branded her a liar. Her claim on Facebook mirrors the plot of ITV drama series Liar, in which a schoolteacher used social media to make a public rape accusation against a surgeon. Miss Ayari is a self-confessed former extremist who was so horrified by the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015 that she declared herself a liberal Muslim.
She now champions Islamic women's rights in France.
Miss Ayari said she had written a chapter about the alleged rape in her memoir, I Chose To Be Free, which was published last year.
She wrote: 'When I resisted, when I told him to stop, he insulted and humiliated me. He slapped me and was outright violent. I saw someone who was no longer in control of himself. I was scared he would kill me.'
She said she had changed the perpetrator's name to avoid legal problems, but she said she could no longer 'keep it a secret'.
Writing yesterday, Miss Ayari said she was now caught in a 'huge storm' and had become victim of a 'real public lynching campaign'.
Writing on Facebook after a backlash against her claim, she said: 'I had to speak to be able to finally turn the page and to relieve my heart of this burden that I have been carrying within me for several years.
'I know that this is a battle of David and Goliath and a clay pot against an iron pot.
'I do not have the same capacities or financial means to pay for the best lawyers, unlike my opponent, who can allow himself to pay for a hotshot lawyer to defend himself – but I already knew what awaited me and I must assume the consequences after all.'
She added: 'But I do not intend to give up and I will tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to the justice system about what this man put me through several years ago because I trust the justice system.'
However a source close to Mr Ramadan, 55, reportedly said: 'Henda Ayari is a fierce ideological critic of Tariq's – she has often expressed hatred towards him.
'He will certainly fight these very serious allegations and prove that they are without foundation.'
The Swiss national is the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna who founded the Islamic organisation the Muslim Brotherhood – which the UK government has tried to ban. He was placed on the US no-fly list after the 9/11 attacks – stopping him from taking up a teaching post in the country. The ban was lifted seven years ago.
In a statement issued through his lawyer, Mr Ramadan said: 'Tariq Ramadan categorically rejects all these false allegations.
'A complaint for slander and defamation will be filed with the public prosecutor in Rouen on Monday.'
An Oxford University spokesman said: 'We are aware of the reports. We are taking them extremely seriously.
'We are not in a position to comment any further at this time.'
Hollywood movie mogul Weinstein this month faced accusations from scores of women – leading to others across the world sharing their experiences of sexual harassment on social media.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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