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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Oxford scholar faces third sexual assault accusation

Islamic philosopher Tariq Ramadan is facing multiple accusations of rape and sexual assault

Mr Ramadan has denied the accusations and has filed counter-charges for libel. AFP / MEHDI FEDOUACH
Mr Ramadan has denied the accusations and has filed counter-charges for libel. AFP / MEHDI FEDOUACH

Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has been accused of sexual assault by a third woman, while another complainant has detailed her claims against him in a hard-hitting interview on Monday.

The latest woman told Le Parisien in an interview on Saturday that Mr Ramadan, who is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University and is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hassan Al Banna, sexually harassed her in 2014.

The woman, identified as Yasmina, said Mr Ramadan blackmailed her for sexual favours, threatening to distribute “compromising pictures” of her.

She is said to be filing criminal charges against him.

Another complainant, French writer Henda Ayari, who says Mr Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012, told the same French newspaper the details of her alleged ordeal.

Ms Ayari, 41, who lodged a rape complaint against the 55-year-old Swiss national on October 20, claimed that for Mr Ramadan, "either you wear a veil or you get raped".

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

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She said she was encouraged to speak out against him publicly by the "Me Too" campaign sweeping the world.

"It was the #BalanceTonPorc campaign that pushed me to reveal his name," she said, in reference to France's version of the hashtag which means "Expose your pig".

Ms Ayari had used a chapter of her 2016 book I Chose To Be Free to disclose details about the rape but without naming Mr Ramadan.

“I actually devoted a whole chapter to the attack in my book but changed his name to avoid legal problems. But now I can no longer keep it a secret. It's too much for me to bear and it's time to tell the truth,” she explained in a Facebook post.

Mr Ramadan is also accused of raping another woman in a hotel room in 2009. The unnamed 42-year-old, who is reported to have disability in her legs, said on Friday that the professor had subjected her to a terrifying and violent sexual assault. She has filed a formal complaint against him, in which she describes her battle with depression and her attempt to commit suicide following the attack.

Mr Ramadan has denied the accusations and has filed counter-charges for libel.

On Saturday, he wrote in a Facebook post that a new suit would follow "within a few days, in response to the campaign of lies launched by my adversaries".

"These accusations are simply false, and betray all the ideals I have long strived for and believed in," he wrote.

Supporters of Mr Ramadan are describing the accusations against him part of a “international Zionist plot” to destroy his name, according to journalist Caroline Fourest, who has written extensively about the scholar’s career.

All the complainants said they had initially made contact with Mr Ramadan for spiritual guidance.

Thousands of people took the "Me Too" campaign - started by allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein - onto the streets of France on Sunday.

Some 2,500 people joined a rally in Paris against sexual abuse and harassment, while other protests were staged in Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille and other cities.

In addition to Mr Ramadan, several other prominent figures have been targeted in French assault claims, including a lawmaker in President Emmanuel Macron's party and a judge on France's equivalent of "America's Got Talent".