Tariq Ramadan held in France over rape allegations

Tariq Ramadan held in France over rape allegations
2 min read
01 February, 2018
Swiss Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan spent the night in a Paris jail Thursday, over allegations by two women that the Oxford academic violently raped them.
Two women have accused Ramadan of rape [AFP]

Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan spent the night at a French jail Wednesday evening, as part of a preliminary inquiry into rape allegations against the Oxford academic.

A legal source told AFP that Ramadan remained behind bars Thursday morning, saying investigators wanted to question him further about the charges.

Ramadan - a Swiss national whose grandfather Hassan al-Banna founded Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - has strongly denied the charges that he raped two Muslim women in French hotel rooms in 2009 and 2012.

The 55-year-old academic is the most prominent figure to be held in France over the sexual assault claims, which coincided with the global "Me Too" campaign against sexual harassment.

Henda Ayari, a feminist activist who used to practice a conservative strain of Islam, had described being raped in the 2016 book "I Chose to Be Free".

She gave Ramadan a false name, but in October publically referred to the Islamic scholar as the alleged perpetrator following the "Me Too" campaign.

She alleged that Ramadan raped her in his hotel room.

"He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die," she told Le Parisien.

Ayari filed a rape complaint against Ramadan on 20 October.

In the following days, an unnamed disabled Muslim woman also accused the academic of violently raping her in a Lyon hotel room in 2009.

Ramadan took a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University "by mutual agreement".

He strongly denies the two charges along with further allegations in Swiss media of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s.

Lawyers for the married father-of-four have accused Ayari of slander and suggested the women colluded to try and disgrace him. 

Part of his defence were Facebook conversations in which a woman identified as Ayari allegedly made explicit advances towards him in 2014, two years after the alleged rape.

Both women have already been questioned by police in Paris and the northern city of Rouen.

The accusations have sparked heated online debate between opponents and supporters of Ramadan.

Ayari was placed under police protection in November after receiving death threats.

Agencies contributed to this story.