Middle East studies in the News
Oxford University Places Tariq Ramadan on Leave Amid Rape Claims
Oxford University has agreed to place the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on a leave of absence after multiple allegations of rape, assault and sexual harassment were made against him.
"By mutual agreement, and with immediate effect, Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies, has taken a leave of absence from the University of Oxford," the university said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The university has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Prof Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process," the Oxford statement said.
"An agreed leave of absence implies no presumption or acceptance of guilt and allows Prof Ramadan to address the extremely serious allegations made against him, all of which he categorically denies, while meeting our principal concern – addressing heightened and understandable distress, and putting first the wellbeing of our students and staff."
Ramadan's teaching and examining duties would be reassigned to other staff and he would not be present at the university or college.
Ayari named Ramadan in the wake of the sexual assault and harassment scandal involving Harvey Weinstein. She made a formal complaint to police in which she accused Ramadan of rape, violent assault and intimidation.
French newspapers reported last week that a woman had reported Ramadan to police over allegations that he raped and violently assaulted her in Lyon in 2009. And the Swiss paper La Tribune de Genève last weekend quoted four women who alleged Ramadan had sexually harrassed and had sexual relations with them in the 1980s and 1990s, when they were his teenage pupils while he was teaching in Switzerland.
Ramadan has denied the allegations against him. He responded to the most recent reports through a statement on his Twitter account on Monday: "Anonymous allegations have been made against me in Geneva accusing me of the abuse of students who were minors nearly 25 years ago. I categorically deny all these allegations."
The 55-year-old Swiss-born academic made his name as an author and commentator on modern Islam, as well as advising successive British government on Islam and society.
Ramadan did not respond to requests for comment but posted his response to what he called a "joint communique" with Oxford via social media.
"I salute the position taken by Oxford University since this matter first arose. The university has defended the principle of presumption of innocence without minimising the gravity of the allegations against me," he wrote.
"Contrary to reports in the French-language press, I have taken leave of absence upon mutual agreement with Oxford University, which will permit me to devote my energies to my defence while respecting students' need for a calm academic environment."
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