Middle East studies in the News
Oxford Academic Defends Tariq Ramadan Amid Claims He is Being Attacked for Being a 'Prominent Muslim'
by Harry Yorke and Emily Lawford
An Oxford University academic has defended a colleague accused of sexual assault amid claims he has been smeared because he is a "prominent Muslim".
Professor Eugene Rogan, the director of Oxford's Middle East Centre, has come to the defence of the Islamic theologian Tariq Ramadan, who is currently being investigated by French police.
Prof Ramadan, who is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was last week accused of rape by three women in France, and has since been accused of making sexual advances by four Swiss women.
They include one woman who claims that Ramadan made advances when she was 14 years old, and another who claims she had sexual relations with the Oxford don when she was 15.
Prof Ramadan has strongly denied all the allegations and claimed on Facebook that he was the subject of a "campaign of slander" orchestrated by his "longtime adversaries".
He has also filed a case for libel in the French courts.
Despite the severity of the allegations, Oxford is yet to take any action against Ramadan, who is a Qatar-funded fellow of St Antony's College and member of the university's Middle East Centre.
Prof Regan, a colleague of Prof Ramadan's, has also been criticised for comments made in a faculty meeting last week, in which he suggested that the allegations amounted to "Europeans" attempting to "gang up against a prominent Muslim intellectual".
During the meeting, which was tabled to address students' concerns, he added: "It's not just about sexual violence. We must protect Muslim students who believe and trust in him, and protect that trust."
"I encourage everyone to use their moral judgement about how they voice their concerns – not to victimise the women who've made the allegations or the men who've been accused of things they've not yet had the chance to defend themselves against."
The faculty has told students that Prof Ramadan will continue teaching on his return from a trip to Qatar, but they will be allowed to request that another member of staff be present in the room.
Prof Ramadan is also believed to have taught a class of postgraduates last week, while the student newspaper Cherwell reported that he had been seen "laughing" with academics in the faculty.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, a postgraduate student accused Oxford of placing "its own interests" above the welfare of students.
"My view is that [Prof Rogan's comments] encourage a culture of diminished responsibility among ethnic minority groups.
"My perspective is that there are a number of very frustrated students, because it feels like the university has placed its own interests above their welfare.
"It would be bad in most circumstances, but the fact that there's a threat to student welfare is very concerning."
Another student added: "There should have been a more open and frank discussion with female students about how to make them feel safer. Women won't come forward here and say how they feel."
When approached for comment, Professor Rogan said: "I have always stressed that the allegations against Tariq Ramadan are extremely serious.
"Although he denies them categorically, I want to be absolutely clear that my paramount concern is the safety and welfare of students.
"It is important to note that since the reported meeting Tariq Ramadan has not taught at Oxford and, in fact, has not been in the city.
"Nevertheless, my colleagues and I have been in touch with each of Professor Ramadan's students, and have already made alternative teaching arrangements for any student who has asked for them."
Prof Ramadan was approached for comment.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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