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Tariq Ramadan: Now We Are Three
by Hugh Fitzgerald
A third woman in France — known only as “Marie” — has just come forward to accuse Tariq Ramadan of doing what apparently comes naturally to him: that is, to have raped her repeatedly, and to have subjected her to “violent and sexually degrading acts” during a “dozen meetings” between February 2013 and June 2014.
Here’s the sordid story, a blend of the Marquis de Sade and Histoire d’O, as reported by AFP:
A third woman has accused prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan of rape, a month after he was indicted over similar charges and remanded into custody, judicial sources told AFP on Wednesday (March 7).
The French Muslim woman, who wants to remain anonymous and uses the pseudonym “Marie”, claims to have suffered multiple rapes in France, Brussels and London between 2013 and 2014. [She is not to be confused with this Marie.]
She has accused Ramadan, 55, of subjecting her to violent and sexually degrading acts during a dozen meetings, often in hotels at the sidelines of conferences.
“Marie tried in vain to escape the influence of Mr Ramadan who did not stop threatening her,” according to a judicial source, discussing the period between February 2013 and June 2014.
Ramadan, a prominent TV pundit and Oxford University professor whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, was detained on Feb 2 over charges he raped two Muslim women in France, which he denies.
French authorities ordered Ramadan to be placed in custody after he was charged, judging him a flight risk.
His lawyers unsuccessfully proposed handing over his Swiss passport, bail of €50,000 (S$80,000) and daily check-ins at a police station to secure his release.
A professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford, Ramadan has been on leave since November after the allegations emerged.
One of European Islam’s best known figures, he has dismissed the accusations against him as a smear campaign by his enemies and his lawyers argue there are inconsistencies in the women’s accounts.
His supporters – including two million Facebook followers – have lashed out angrily at his arrest, with many complaining that he has been unfairly targeted because he is Muslim.
Now they are three — and it must be an agony for Tariq Ramadan, just a few months ago the “towering intellect” and suave Master of the Universe, as he waits in prison for the next one to accuse him, and the next, and the one after that.
First there was Henda Ayari, who accused Ramadan of rape, sexual violence, humiliation, and making threats to destroy her and to harm her children if she told anyone about what he had done. She described his acts in her book “J’ai choisi d’être libre” (I Chose To Be Free), calling him “Zoubeyr”:
“This man, Zoubeyr, transformed before my very eyes into a vile, vulgar, aggressive being – physically and verbally,” she wrote. “For modesty, I will not give the precise details here of the acts he made me submit to. But it is enough that he took great advantage of my weakness and the admiration I felt for him. ”
“He allowed himself gestures, attitudes and words that I could never have imagined.”
“And when I resisted,” she wrote, “when I cried to him to stop, he insulted and humiliated me. He slapped me and attacked me. I saw in his crazy eyes that he was no longer master of himself. I was afraid he would kill me. I was completely lost. I started crying uncontrollably. He mocked me.”
Later Ayari added: “He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die.” She also described him as threatening that her children might be harmed if she were tell anyone.
Then a second accuser appeared. Like Henda Ayari, “Christelle” is a Muslim. She understandably uses a pseudonym, given that Henda Ayari, who bravely used her real name when she first stepped forward, received thousands of death threats from Ramadan’s loyal followers — he has two million Facebook friends — and now Ayari requires round-the-clock security, possibly for years to come. “Christelle” accused Ramadan of “blows to the face and body, forced sodomy, rape with an object and various humiliations, including being dragged by the hair to the bathtub and urinated on.”
Now, on March 7, a third accuser has appeared. Like the first two, she is a Muslim. And she has accused Ramadan of behavior quite similar to what those two previous accusers described: rape, and his trademark “violent and sexually degrading acts.”
Ramadan’s lawyers have tried, but failed, to shake the stories or undermine the credibility of Henda Ayari and “Christelle.” With Henna Ayari, they noted her many emails to him, long after she says she was raped. She has explained these emails as attempts not to seduce her rapist, but to entrap Ramadan into a discussion that would become a confession of guilt.
Those lawyers tried to claim that “Christelle” could not have been raped, as she testified, on the afternoon of October 9, 2009, because Ramadan was on a London-Lyon flight that arrived in Lyon at 6:30 PM. That alibi blew up when records of Ramadan’s flights on October 8 and 9 were located. They revealed that he took a London-Madrid flight early on October 8, then another to Jerez de la Frontera, where he gave a lecture at 5 PM on that day — and a photograph of Ramadan giving that lecture also surfaced. Other flight records showed him on October 9, flying early in the morning back to Madrid, and then from Madrid to Lyon, arriving at 12:15 PM. That gave him plenty of time to do what he wished with the hapless, trusting, disabled “Christelle.”
“Europe’s foremost Muslim intellectual,” “the great Muslim thinker,” “this prominent theologian,” “this eminent Oxford professor,” “one of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers,” this “profound scholar,” this “great reformer of Islam” — none of that idiotic praise will help him now.
Of course, we know what his lawyers will say. How could ”Marie,” who says she was raped, still show up, eleven more times, to meet her putative rapist, Tariq Ramadan? They’ll claim it makes no sense, she must be hallucinating. But as the police and psychiatrists can testify, many people can endure an “abusive relationship” for a long time, until that moment when they just can’t. Ramadan apparently threatened her, but with what? We know he took pictures of her. “Marie” told Europe 1 radio that “I had to obey him, be available 24 hours a day, do whatever he told me, take pictures [let him take pictures of me] in submissive positions, on my knees to ask for forgiveness, call him ‘master’.”
Did he threaten to post them online for the world to see? Was she married? Could Ramadan have threatened to send her husband pornographic pictures, or videos, unless she kept coming dutifully back for more? Did she have children whom he could harm, as he suggested to Henda Ayari might happen with her children? Or could he have said he could send those “pictures” to her children unless she yielded again, and yet again? Everything was possible, nothing was unimaginable, for this character out of a horror movie. She knew he was violent and cruel, and took great pleasure in his cruelty. She realized that he was a monster capable of anything, and that’s why she kept on, until, after sixteen months of this, she could stand it no longer. How many others will now step forward, one by agonizing one? Eric Morain, the lawyer for “Christelle,” says that “bringing forward a complaint can be a slow process,” but “there will be others.”
And one final question: How many years behind bars does Tariq Ramadan deserve? Pick a number, divisible by twenty.