Middle East studies in the News
Rape Allegation Against Scholar Tariq Ramadan Fuels Islam Row
by Charles Bremner
A Muslim woman has claimed that she was raped by Tariq Ramadan, the theologian and Oxford professor whose alleged sexual violence has prompted a furore in France over the place of Islam.
The Frenchwoman's claim against Professor Ramadan, 55, has added to a feud between leftwingers who depict the outcry as a war against Muslims and those who accuse his defenders of playing into the hands of Islamists. Professor Ramadan denies the claim.
Britain has been accused of turning a blind eye towards his alleged criminal conduct because he is a Muslim intellectual and professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony's College, Oxford. His accuser, a convert named only as Christelle, 45, said that he leapt on her when she visited his Paris hotel room for a religious discussion in 2009.
The woman, who is disabled, said: "He hit my crutch. He made me fall and picked me up by the hair. I feared for my life. Then it was hell. Blows. Sexual violence. Unspeakable, disgusting language . . . The more I screamed, the more he hit me." The assault lasted several hours, she told the news channel BFM TV.
Christelle's alleged ordeal is one of two legal complaints from women over the past month against Professor Ramadan, a Swiss citizen. He has taken leave from his Oxford post. French police are investigating him on suspicion of possible "rape, sexual assault, violence and making death threats".
He denies all the claims.
Accusers in France, Switzerland and Belgium have alleged that he used guru-like powers to lure Muslim women into private meetings. In Geneva, four women have claimed that Professor Ramadan had sex with them when they were teenagers and he was their teacher. He also denies these claims and has said he would sue his accusers for defamation.
Some of his supporters on social media have made death threats against Henda Ayari, his first accuser, who said that she had been raped in 2012. Police have provided full-time protection to Ms Ayari, 40, a former Salafist, after she handed over 21 pages of violent messages. "They call me a whore . . . a dirty Jew . . . They say I'm making money out of Islamophobia," Ms Ayari said.
After the magazine Charlie Hebdo put a caricature of a priapic Professor Ramadan on its cover, Edwy Plenel, from the investigative site Mediapart, accused it of waging "war against Muslims". In an outraged riposte, Manuel Valls, the former Socialist prime minister, last week accused Plenel of doing the job of Islamic State by "calling for murder". France is "facing the problem of Islam, of Muslims", he said this week.
Britain's "deafening silence" over the Ramadan affair is evidence that he enjoys protection as the holder of an Oxford post financed by Qatar, as a contributor to The Guardian and as a former adviser to Tony Blair, according to Le Monde.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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