Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

French court asked to block new Tariq Ramadan book identifying accuser

Grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder compares himself to Captain Dreyfus in book promotion

Mr Ramadan is facing a new complaint in France for a rape that allegedly took place in 2014. AFP
Mr Ramadan is facing a new complaint in France for a rape that allegedly took place in 2014. AFP

A woman who has accused Tariq Ramadan of rape has asked a French court to block publication of a new book written while he was on criminal charges.

A furious reaction has erupted in France after Mr Ramadan, grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood founder, appeared on television to promote the book, Duty of Truth, which is due to be published on Wednesday.

The writer portrayed himself as victim of a political witchhunt against extremists and likened his situation to the Dreyfus Affair, which divided France more than a century ago.

Mr Ramadan has been indicted on two charges of rape and faced accusations from at least two other women.

While the authorities investigate the case, he has been suspended from his professor's post at the University of Oxford.

Other effects are less clear. He has reportedly been paid $35,000 a month by Qatar Foundation.

Eric Morain, a lawyer for a woman known as Christelle who accused Mr Ramadan of raping her in 2009, said he had revealed her identity in the book.

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

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

French newspapers said the TV appearance was the part of a plan to rehabilitate his image from the damage caused by the investigations.

The effort to drawn between his case and an infamous scandal involving Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish army captain accused of treason in 1894 before being exonerated in 1906, drew widespread derision.

“The anti-Muslim racism that has grown” in France could be equated to the anti-Semitism that sustained the Dreyfus affair.

"Nothing is trivial in the words of Tariq Ramadan," said a commentary in Le Parisien.

"He has blown on the embers because he knows he has important influence on a section of the population, mostly the youths.

"His desire to be the leader of the radicalised part of France is stronger than ever."

The court is hearing the request to block the book under an 1881 press law that forbids forbids publication “of information concerning the identity of a victim of sexual assault or abuse”.

Mr Morain asked that his client's name is replaced with the pseudonym Christelle and a ruling in her favour could mean Mr Ramadan would face a fine of up to €15,000.

The book is a retelling of his detention and questioning since the allegations of rape emerged.

Christelle said he lured her to a room in a hotel in Lyon and kept her overnight while carrying out the attacks.

Henda Ayari, a feminist activist, alleges the scholar also raped her in a Paris hotel in 2012.

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

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.

Mr Ramadan sought to become the voice of political Islam in Europe.

Now he says he is “demonised” in France for his work. He told the interview he would fight against the accusations.

“I have kept silent since public opinion and the media have determined I am guilty," Mr Ramadan said.

The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions has also decried his words as “an insult to the memory of Alfred Dreyfus and an offence to all who worked towards his rehabilitation”.

Among the appearances planned to promote the book is a public gathering at a bookshop on Sunday.

Updated: September 11, 2019 12:45 AM

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