'Bitter confrontation'

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan comes face to face with rape accuser in court

Swiss Muslim intellectual and professor Tariq Ramadan delivering a speech in 2011. (SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has faced one of his rape accusers for more than eight hours in a Paris court, seven months after being taken into custody.

Ramadan, a television commentator and Oxford University professor vigorously denies the charges, of raping two women in hotels in 2009 and 2012, and is seeking bail. The 56-year-old Swiss citizen took leave from his role at the university when the rape allegations surfaced amid the #MeToo movement last year. He was charged in February.

A third investigation has been opened into allegations that Ramadan raped a woman in a Geneva hotel in 2008.

In addition to his expertise in Islamic studies, Ramadan is known for being the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. He is married and has four children.

On Tuesday in court, Ramadan faced a disabled woman, known in the media as “Christelle,” whom he is accused of attacking in Lyon, France, in 2009. “It was a bitter confrontation” in which “everyone maintained their positions,” the woman’s lawyer Eric Morain said. “Ramadan sees enemies everywhere, he is a conspiracy theorist, and my client was able to look him in the eye and tell him that she was not his enemy but his victim. She has carried this pain for 10 years.”

Christelle accuses Ramadan of raping and beating her in his hotel room. Ramadan maintains he engaged only in a flirtatious text exchange, and that the two met for around 30 minutes in the foyer.

French writer and feminist activist Henda Ayari, photographed in Paris, on November 24, 2017. The Muslim feminist activist alleges she was raped violently by Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan. (JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Ramadan’s other accuser is Henda Ayari — a Muslim fundamentalist-turned-secular activist. She initially made her accusations about Ramadan in a memoir, without naming her assailant — instead identifying her attacker by the moniker, “Zoubeyr,” or “strong” in Arabic. She also declined to identify the name of her attacker in an interview with Women in the World last year, but was galvanized by the flood of accusations against Harvey Weinstein to share the full details of her own #MeToo experience in a Facebook post in October.

Ayari and Christelle say they each approached Ramadan seeking religious advice.

Another woman, Mounia Rabbouj, has accused Ramadan of rape in France, London and Brussels in 2013 and 2014, but no charges have been laid. He maintains they had a consensual affair that included elements of “domination.”

Ramadan was seeking bail in order, he argued, to access better treatment for multiple sclerosis. It was denied, with the court ruling that he has adequate care in the prison hospital.

Read the full story at Channel News Asia.

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