Middle East studies in the News
Oxford Professor of Islamic Studies Tariq Ramadan Charged in France With Rape
by Patrick Sawer
The prominent Muslim scholar and Oxford professor of Islamic studies Tariq Ramadan has been charged with rape, following claims by two women that he assaulted them in French hotel rooms.
Ramadan, who was arrested by French police on Wednesday, was charged on Friday with connected charges of rape and rape of a vulnerable person in 2009 and 2012.
After two days of questioning by investigators, the 55-year-old professor was brought before three magistrates, in a move which suggests he is facing an extensive investigation, judicial sources said.
The decision to charge Ramadan was welcomed by the lawyer representing Henda Ayari, 41, the first of the women to accuse him.
Jonas Haddad said: "If there are other victims in France or elsewhere, they now know that the justice system will respond to what has happened to them."
Sources close to the investigation said women who have testified anonymously during three months of preliminary investigations might now also file rape complaints.
The claims against Ramadan, a Swiss citizen whose grandfather founded Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the United States.
He has denied them, claiming he is the victim of a smear campaign.
Critics of the Muslim scholar have long claimed that despite his moderate stance he preaches a more radical line when addressing Muslims in Arabic.
Ramadan is the most high-profile figure to be held in France in connection with allegations of sexual assault and harassment which have emerged as part of the "Me Too" campaign.
Ms Ayari, a feminist activist who previously practised a conservative strain of Islam, described being raped in a book published in 2016, without naming her attacker.
But in October, she said she had decided to name Ramadan publicly as the alleged perpetrator as a result of the "Me Too" campaign, using the French hashtag "Balance Ton Porc" (Expose your pig).
She claimed that Ramadan, a married father of four, raped her in his hotel room, telling Le Parisien newspaper: "He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die."
She lodged a rape complaint against Ramadan on October 20.
Several days later an unidentified disabled woman, a Muslim convert, also accused the academic of raping her in a hotel room in the southeastern city of Lyon in 2009.
Vanity Fair magazine, which met the woman, said her lawsuit against Ramadan described "blows to the face and body, forced sodomy, rape with an object and various humiliations, including being dragged by the hair to the bathtub and urinated on".
During three hours of testimony in Paris on Thursday, the woman - using the pseudonym "Christelle" - repeated her allegations to the judge in Ramadan's presence.
She also revealed that Ramadan had a small scar on his groin that would not have been noticed except in the case of close contact.
Rejecting her testimony, the scholar refused to sign the official summary of the account, sources close to the case said.
During three months of investigations since the allegations emerged, police have interviewed dozens of people close to both Ramadan and the two women, and examined email and social media exchanges between them.
In November, Oxford University said Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, "by mutual agreement".
He has also denied allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s published in the Swiss media, denouncing them as "a campaign of lies launched by my adversaries".
Lawyers for Ramadan have accused Ms Ayari of slander and suggested the women colluded to try to disgrace him.
As part of his defence, he has presented investigators with Facebook conversations in which a woman identified as Ayari allegedly made explicit advances towards him in 2014, two years after the alleged rape.
The accusations have sparked furious online exchanges between supporters of Ramadan, who commands a following of more than two million fans on Facebook, and his opponents.
Despite his leave of absence from Oxford, Ramadan continues to head the Islamic Institute for Ethical Training in France.
Ms Ayari was placed under police protection in November after receiving death threats.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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