x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

‘Tariq Ramadan's victims could be in their hundreds’ – new exposé

The prominent Islamic scholar is facing a string of accusations of rape and sexual assault

Tariq Ramadan has strongly denied the recent allegations of rape and sexual assault against him. AP / Michel Spingler
Tariq Ramadan has strongly denied the recent allegations of rape and sexual assault against him. AP / Michel Spingler

The victims of Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan are in the tens, if not hundreds, stretching back over more than two decades, according to a new exposé.

Majda Bernoussi, a woman of Moroccan origin, kept a daily journal throughout her tumultuous relationship with the prominent Islamic scholar, extracts of which have been unveiled in French magazine Le Point.

While Ms Bernoussi was herself not raped or beaten in the five year relationship, which lasted from 2009 to 2014, she claims to have been threatened by his fans when she tried to denounce him for his “predatory” behaviour towards women.

She is now planning to publish her journal, entitled: A voyage into troubled waters with Tariq Ramadan.

The latest development follows a string of damning allegations about Mr Ramadan, who is a professor at Oxford University and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Three women have accused him of rape or sexual assault in the past month, providing graphic details in interviews and on social media. Four of his former students also claimed he seduced them when they were just teenagers.

After the first accusation, Mr Ramadan issued a strong denial and filed counter-charges for libel.

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Read more:

Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan takes leave of absence amid fresh abuse complaints from four women

Tariq Ramadan accused of ‘seducing his teenage students’

Oxford scholar faces third sexual assault accusation

French official knew of Tariq Ramadan’s ‘violent’ sexual encounters but failed to act

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Ms Bernoussi made contact with Mr Ramadan on the internet after returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca, attracted by his reputation as a holy man. “He was very cooperative during this first exchange,” she said, adding that she was not in the least concerned. “How could this emblematic figure of Islam, respected worldwide, hurt me?”

They started to exchange text messages, "at first very modest". But soon, "his fake neutrality gave way to tender words, then love," she said. Lingering doubts over his marital status plagued her, and she asked him to clarify his position several times, but without success.

His messages became more and more daring, she said, including statements such as: “I want you, you are mine”, despite having still not met in person.

“I felt less and less peaceful,” Ms Bernoussi said. Still, a date was set to meet, in Lille in July 2009.

“That's when a friend advised me to go on the Internet. I then fell on a site that chilled me with dread. There, before my eyes, dozens of girls screamed their dismay anonymously. They revealed what happened during their meetings with Ramadan…. They depicted a monster without faith or law, who took advantage of everything, their souls and their bodies.”

As Ms Bernoussi’s doubts mounted, she says Mr Ramadan started getting angry. “He called me a tease. He wrote to me, saying: ‘That's it?’ …I felt the evil in him, the fake, the deceived makeup man of Islam."

A relationship nevertheless developed, and according to Ms Bernoussi, Mr Ramadan asked her to be his wife. “He told me he was divorced… He never answered the most basic questions about his family and private life,” she said. “He spent his time telling me he loved me. An inner voice screamed at me that he was only a manipulator, who was only trying to destroy me, while he promised me the light.”

Ms Bernoussi grew rebellious, telling him "truths he hated, which he categorically refused to hear".

"I used to send him text messages, asking: 'Would people would continue to come and listen to your sermons if they knew what you were doing to their daughters?'"

Eventually, she says, she realised she was "just an object" for him. "I exceeded my rights by daring to ask him what he had promised me, respect and love.

“I was sincere, not him, never him. For him, it's only a game.”

The relationship came to an end when, according to Ms Bernoussi, Mr Ramadan realised he could not control her like he could the other women.

“After a multitude of lies, and my rebellion, Ramadan let go of me. He was disappearing because he told me I was not who he had believed I was, I had not done what he expected of me. Namely, let him trample and abuse me."

“And with the back of his hand, he swept everything away.”

Ms Bernoussi first gave an interview about her relationship with Mr Ramadan to Le Point three years ago, in which she claimed the number of his victims stretched into double, if not triple digits.

The comments provoked abuse and insults from his fans, she said. “His fans refused to accept that their pseudo-prophet was a usurper and a hypocrite. Eloquent and brilliant, certainly, but an usurper nevertheless."

She added: "Tariq's love is pitiful and boring. I know terrible things about him today. I am so often riddled with rage and pain.”