02/01/2018, 12.02
FRANCE - ISLAM

Paris, Islamic theologian and intellectual Tariq Ramadan arrested on rape charges

The police arrested him following a report presented by two women, already heard by the police in Rouen and Paris. He is awaiting interrogation. He stepped down “by mutual accord” from his teaching position in Oxford in November. He will have to answer for charges of "rape and sexual violence".

Paris (AsiaNews) - The French police have arrested the controversial Islamic theologian of Swiss origin Tariq Ramadan, months after allegations of rape filed by two women against him. According to police sources, the arrest occurred yesterday in the capital Paris; now the Muslim leader and Oxford University lecturer is awaiting questioning.

Tariq Ramadan, 55, a Swiss of Egyptian family (he was born in Geneva), is the nephew of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hasan al-Banna, an organization in power in Egypt in the recent past with former President Morsi, but today declared outlaws. He is very popular in Muslim conservative circles, while he is the object of strong criticism from the secular world which considers him an extremist.

According to rumors he is accused of pursuing a radical Islamic infiltration project and being anti-Semitic. Allegations that he has always strongly rejected, as well as covering the radical circles of the faith of Muhammad and pushing young Muslim women to wear the veil.

A long-time professor at Oxford, from last November he left the chair "by mutual accord" with the university for a sabbatical period. The choice is believed to have been motivated by the rape allegations submitted a few weeks before by the two women who accuse him of rape and sexual violence. To this day he still holds the position of lecturer at the University of Geneva, his hometown, where he pursued a doctorate in  2004 after the then President George W. Bush had denied him a visa for the United States. He was supposed to fly overseas to take up a professorship at Indiana University.

French police sources report that he was arrested for interrogation, in the context of "a preliminary investigation" initiated in Paris "following allegations of rape and sexual violence". The first to file a complaint against him was Henda Ayari, who accused Ramadan of having raped her in a Paris hotel in 2012. The woman first spoke of violence - in a hotel room in Paris - on her Facebook page and in 2016 in a book, without revealing the identity of the accused.

 

In response, Ramadan's lawyers presented some passages of discussions between the two, in which they claim the complainant tried to pursue a relationship with the Islamic intellectual, without receiving a response. A second complaint concerns facts dating back to 2009, which took place in a hotel in Lyon. In this case the disabled woman wanted to remain anonymous even though she presented medical certificates in court.

The two women have already been heard by the Rouen and Paris police.

To two women’s allegations have been substantiated by some documents and writings of the French essayist Caroline Fourest, feminist and for years an arch rival of  Tariq Ramadan, whom she has often countered  in her writings and television interventions.  Ayari, presented a second complaint after being targeted with offenses and threats from supporters of the theologian.

In Switzerland, at the beginning of November, Ramadan filed a report for defamation after accusations against him of sexual abuse of minors published by a newspaper in Geneva. For the intellectual it is a "slander campaign" by his "long standing enemies".

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