Middle East studies in the News
Oxford Professor Tariq Ramadan 'Sexually Abused Swiss Teens in His Car'
by Michael Sheridan and Rebecca Myers
The Oxford University professor and Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan was yesterday accused by four Swiss women of abusing them when they were teenagers as police investigated allegations he had sexually assaulted two French women.
Four Swiss women, including one who said she was underage at the time, claimed that Ramadan told them they were special before having sexual relations with them in the back of his car while teaching in Geneva between 20 and 30 years ago.
The women's accusations, published in the respected Swiss newspaper, Tribune de Genève, are the latest in a series of complaints against the scholar.
He is under investigation by French police for the alleged rape and sexual assault of two women in 2012 and 2009, which he strongly denies.
The Swiss women, who said they were aged between 14 and 18 at the time of the alleged incidents, requested that their names be withheld.
In the article, one described Ramadan as a "twisted and intimidating" man who manipulated them in an "abuse of power — plain and simple".
Ramadan, 55, is a fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, where he is professor of contemporary Islamic studies. He was once listed as one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world.
Raised in Switzerland, he is a Swiss citizen and taught at a secondary school and college in Geneva in the 1980s and 1990s.
His Swiss accusers said they were his pupils at the time of the alleged incidents. They claimed Ramadan would tell them they were special.
The women alleged that he took them for coffees and lunches outside school, giving them lifts in his car, where they would then engage in sexual activity.
One is reported as having said she was 14 when Ramadan made advances towards her.
She said he had put his hand on her thigh and told her that he knew she thought about him at night before going to sleep. She had no further relations with Ramadan, and told no one about the encounter.
Another of the girls told the newspaper she was 15 when he allegedly began propositioning her.
She said: "Two or three times we had intimate relationships, in the back of his car. He said it was our secret."
One woman, who said she was 18 when she had relations with Ramadan, described the sex in his car as "consensual but very violent".
She alleged : "I was abused and assaulted. I had bruises all over my body."
Ramadan is already the subject of two complaints of assault in France by Henda Ayari, a feminist writer, and another, unidentified, woman. Ayari said last week that, during a conference in 2012, Ramadan invited her to discuss religion in his hotel room where he raped her.
He "choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die", she said.
Ayari first described the alleged incident in her book I Chose to be Free, released last year, but without naming Ramadan. She said she had decided to speak out and name him in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
The professor claims he is the target of a campaign against him by his enemies and has counter-sued Ayari, alleging defamation.
He said last week: "The law must speak now. My lawyer is taking care of the case and we expect a long and tough fight." Oxford University said last week: "We are aware of these allegations and we are taking them extremely seriously."
A spokesman for Geneva police said they were aware of the Tribune de Genève report but were unable to comment.
There was no response to requests for comment from Ramadan yesterday. Nobody was available for comment at his Paris lawyer's office.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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