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Justice

Tariq Ramadan accuser seeks ban on book about rape allegations

Swiss Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan is under investigation in France following two accusations of rape.
Swiss Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan is under investigation in France following two accusations of rape. AFP/Mehdi Fedouach

A French court was to decide Tuesday whether to block the release of a book by Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan after a woman accusing him of rape alleged it violates a publication ban revealing her identity.

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The complaint is based on an 1881 press freedom law that forbids publication “of information concerning the identity of a victim of sexual assault or abuse”.

The plaintiff, known by the pseudonym Christelle in the media, alleges the Muslim intellectual raped her in a hotel room in the French city of Lyon in October 2009.

“The release of this book as it stands has to be banned, as it reveals the identity of my client in 84 instances,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Eric Morain.

“All media have respected the law,” Morain continued. “Tariq Ramadan must respect it, as well.”

He asked that the name of his client be replaced by the pseudonym Christelle.

A violation of a ruling in the plaintiff’s favour could mean Ramadan would face a fine of up to 15,000 euros.

Book recounts experience of allegations

Ramadan’s book Devoir de vérité, the title of which translates roughly as “the obligation to tell the truth”, is slated for publication on Wednesday.

In it, the Swiss scholar of Islam recounts his experience of facing multiple accusations of rape, which emerged in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Ramadan faces two charges of rape in France, one from the woman referred to as Christelle and the other from feminist activist Henda Ayari, who alleges the scholar raped her in a Paris hotel in 2012.

After they filed charges in October and November 2017, Ramadan was forced to take a leave of absence from the University of Oxford, where he was professor of contemporary Islamic studies.

French police arrested Ramadan and held him in custody from February to November 2018.

He initially denied any sexual contact with either women, but then said they had “consensual relations” after investigators uncovered sexually explicit text messages between him and Christelle.

Controversial figure

Ramadan, whose grandfather was founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was known for influential views on Islam in Europe that made him a controversial figure before the accusations

He has argued that he is not receiving fair treatment and told a court last year he was “demonised” in France.

In addition to the book, he gave an interview on French television last week in which he expressed his wish to “fight” against the accusations.

“I have kept silent,” he said, “since public opinion and the media have determined I am guilty”.

Ramadan and Dreyfus affair

In his interview and book, Ramadan strikes a parallel between his case and an infamous scandal involving Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish army captain accused of treason in 1894 before being rehabilitated in 1906.

In the interview, Ramadan compared “the anti-Muslim racism that has grown” in France to the anti-Semitism that sustained the Dreyfus affair.

The Crif, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, objected the parallel was “an insult to the memory of Alfred Dreyfus and an offense to all who worked towards his rehabilitation”.

 

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