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Tariq Ramadan on Trial in Geneva
Tariq Ramadan on Trial in Geneva
Will his victims finally get justice?
By Hugh Fitzgerald
Tariq Ramadan is now living in a world of woe. Once a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford, described by TIME Magazine as a “towering intellect,” he has ever since 2017 been subject to charges of particularly violent rape by four women in France, a Swiss woman in Geneva, and, in a separate case, four Swiss women who at the time of his sexual assaults were his young students in a Geneva lycée. While he claims to be the victim of a “plot by Islamophobes” to destroy his reputation, it has been pointed out that several of his accusers are themselves Muslims, making his charge most doubtful. The testimonies of at least nine women and girls, both in France and in Switzerland, consistently paint him as a particularly vicious rapist and sodomizer; his youngest victim was fourteen.
Ramadan appeared on May 15 at a Geneva criminal court. Allegations by other women that were first made public in 2017 led Ramadan to be put “on leave” from Oxford beginning that year, though thanks to the intervention of Qatar, a major donor to the university, he continues to receive a salary.
More on his appearance at the courthouse in Geneva is here: “Scholar Tariq Ramadan goes on rape trial in Geneva,” AFP, May 16, 2023:
The Swiss Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan went on trial at a Geneva criminal court on Monday charged with “rape and sexual coercion”, allegations which the former Oxford University professor denies.
Ramadan arrived at the Geneva courthouse, where security had been visibly boosted as members of the public streamed in to watch the highly anticipated trial.
The Swiss complainant, who says she has faced threats and therefore wishes to be known under the assumed name of “Brigitte” during the trial, was in her 40s at the time of the alleged attack, which dates back almost 15 years.
Ramadan, 60, is accused of having subjected her to brutal sexual acts accompanied by beatings and insults on the evening of Oct 28, 2008, in a Geneva hotel room. Brigitte filed a complaint with the Geneva courts in April 2018.
The Swiss intellectual [sic],a charismatic yet controversial figure in European Islam, could face two to 10 years in prison if convicted. One of his French lawyers, Philippe Ohayon, declined to comment ahead of the trial, which is expected to last two to three days.
The verdict will be delivered on May 24, the Geneva courts said, and Ramadan will be able to appeal if convicted.
Let’s refresh our memories of Tariq Ramadan’s appalling past. Before all those unpleasant charges – rape with extreme violence — were made against him by four women, at least three of them Muslims, in France, and then by four women in Switzerland who accused him of having committed sexual assaults, including rape and sodomy, on them when they were his students in lycée, Tariq Ramadan had been the Islamic world’s golden boy. He was once hailed as a “towering intellect” and a “leading Islamic scholar.” In 2000, TIME called Tariq Ramadan “one of the seven most important religious innovators” of the 21st century; in 2004, TIME named Ramadan as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” In Internet polls, Foreign Policy magazine listed Ramadan as one of the “100 top global thinkers” in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012.
This “towering intellect” has become, thanks to the patronage of the state of Qatar, a millionaire. Ramadan has always presented himself to the world as a brave would-be reformer of Islam, an independent intellectual beholden to no one. Many knew he held a professorship at Oxford; few were aware that his professorship was paid for by the government of Qatar, or that he had been selected by the Qataris themselves to fill the chair. And until a study of by Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, Qatar Papers – How the emirate finances Islam in France and Europe, appeared, no one knew of the additional huge sums that Tariq Ramadan had been receiving from Qatar. It turns out that since Ramadan’s legal troubles began, he has been receiving $40,000 a month directly from Qatar. In addition, though he has been “on leave” from Oxford since November 2017, he has continued to receive his full salary from the university, from funds supplied by Qatar. Finally, aside from his Oxford salary and the $40,000 he receives each month directly from Qatari sources — sums which pay for many things, including the best legal counsel money can buy — he withdrew from Qatari bank accounts (where did this money come from, if not from the government of Qatar?) the impressive sum of $663,000, which was apparently then used to help pay for two apartments, one for Ramadan and one for his wife, in an expensive neighborhood of Paris. With an annual income of more than six hundred thousand dollars, Tariq Ramadan has not exactly been suffering.
Ramadan has consistently denied being a member, or even a supporter, of the Muslim Brotherhood. But the journalist Caroline Fourest, who wrote a scathing study of Ramadan, Frère Tariq (Brother Tariq), laid out a charge sheet against him that included his visceral loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his use of double discourse to fool non-Muslim audiences.
Thanks to the study by Chesnot and Malbrunot, which includes detailed evidence of Qatar’s massive funding both of Muslim Brotherhood-related people, projects, and institutions in Europe, and of Tariq Ramadan in particular, we can see more clearly that, as Fourest charged several years ago, he has all along been not the nonpareil independent reformer, beholden to no one, that he pretended to be, but has for years been a well-paid agent of influence for Qatar and for the group it so lavishly favors, the Muslim Brotherhood, the fanatical faith group that his grandfather founded in 1928. Let Ramadan now explain just why he has been receiving more than six hundred thousand dollars a year from Qatar. As a past master of taqiyya, he can surely come up with some preposterous explanation.
In my next post, I will examine the charges made by so many women against Tariq Ramadan. It took courage for them to go up against the much-admired “towering intellect” and “leading Islamic scholar” who is , according to TIME, “one of the seven most important religious innovators” of the 21st century” as well as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” Yet here were these women, armed only with their determination to t make him answer for his crimes.
Now that the first trial against Ramadan for rape has just opened in Geneva, we should know, by May 24, if he will somehow manage to slither away, unscathed, a salamander of fate, at least in this first trial — there are many more to come — because Qatar hired the very best lawyers in the land to defend him or if, at long last, Tariq Ramadan will receive the justice he deserves.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons