Swiss court cleared Islam scholar of rape charges

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Tariq Ramadan was one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2004

A Swiss court exonerated renowned Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan of rape and sexual coercion.

Mr. Ramadan, a Swiss national, is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s founder.

In 2008, a Swiss woman claimed she had been assaulted by Mr. Ramadan in a Geneva hotel, and she filed the lawsuit.

The woman told the court that she had been subjected to a vicious sexual assault, beatings, and insults by Mr. Ramadan’s supporters.

She stated that it occurred after the Oxford academic invited her to coffee following a conference.

60-year-old Mr. Ramadan faced up to three years in prison if convicted. The only allegation he admitted to was meeting the woman.

The trial was a stark contrast to the former “rock star” of Islamic thought’s previous career.

As Europe struggled with terrorist attacks and rising anti-Muslim sentiment, Mr. Ramadan appeared as a voice of reason, condemning terrorism, opposing the death penalty, and even being denied entry to Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Syria because he had criticized their lack of democracy, he claimed.

In 2004, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the globe.

In 2007, he was appointed Islamic studies professor at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford. Additionally, he had his detractors, especially in France, where a number of prominent academics accused him of anti-Semitism.

In 2017, Mr. Ramadan’s meteoric ascent came to an end when he was accused of rape by a French woman.

When the case was made public, additional women came forward.

By the year 2020, he faced five rape charges – four in France and one in Switzerland – and had been detained in France for nine months before being released on probation. He has always denied all charges brought against him.

The Swiss case was the first to be brought to trial, and the courtroom in Geneva was fraught.

Mr. Ramadan was met with a barrage of cameras upon his arrival. His accuser, using the alias Brigitte to conceal her identity, asked for a screen to be erected in the courtroom so she would not have to see the man she claimed assaulted her.

She described the alleged assault in detail, expressing dread for her life.

Mr. Ramadan acknowledged that he invited her to his hotel room, but he denied all allegations of violence. He claimed that every accusation leveled against him was politically motivated and intended to discredit him.

His French and Swiss attorneys questioned the veracity of the accusers, citing discrepancies in the dates of the alleged attacks.

Supporters of Mr Ramadan protested on the streets of Paris following the allegations in France. Image source: Getty image

His family supported Mr. Ramadan in his argument. Citing his father’s “role in the debate about Islam in France,” his son Sami told the BBC in 2019 that the cases against his father were “motivated by other reasons, which we feel are political.”

Dozens of prominent figures, including the American philosopher Noam Chomsky and the British filmmaker Ken Loach, who signed an open letter querying whether Mr. Ramadan was receiving a fair legal process with the usual presumption of innocence, supported this viewpoint.

Brigitte could not have fabricated the alleged assault or described it to the judges in such detail, according to the prosecution in Geneva court.

Mr. Ramadan’s defense attorney asserted his innocence and referred to the charges against him as “crazy.” Mr. Ramadan pleaded with the court not to try him based on his “real or alleged ideology.”

The three Swiss justices found him innocent after a week of deliberation.

Even though he has been cleared in Switzerland, this may be the first of many trials.

In France, prosecutors are still determining whether Mr. Ramadan’s allegations should proceed to court.

He has sworn to clear his name and continues to protest his innocence in all the cases.


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