Former Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan accused of ‘destroying’ alleged rape victim’s life
Awoman who claims to have been raped by Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan has accused the Oxford professor of trying to “destroy” her life by writing a book naming her 84 times and “hijacking” her birthday for an ‘international day of action’ to protest his innocence.
Ramadan, 57, was suspended from his post as Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St Antony’s College after being charged in France with raping a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
In an interview with UK newspaper The Telegraph on Friday, the woman, known by the pseudonym Christelle, said she had tried to commit suicide after supporters of Tariq Ramadan announced that an international day of action, to protest the French government’s handling of the professor’s case, would take place on her birthday.
“They’ve decided that my birthday wouldn’t be mine anymore, that wouldn’t decide anything anymore, that’s the message,” she told the newspaper.
Christelle, 47, detailed the “smears” she has been subjected to after accusing Mr Ramadan of raping her in 2017.
In September Mr Ramadan published a 300-page book in which he describes Christelle and his other accusers as “liars” who “were jealous or who felt cheated and who looked to settle scores after the facts”.
Christelle had tried to block the publication of the book, which reveals her identity 84 times, but was refused by a French court which ruled her name was already known to the public in France. The Telegraph is not naming the woman.
Mr Ramadan was held in custody for 9 months in 2018 in a case dubbed the #MeToo of the Muslim world.
A website called ‘Free Tariq Ramadan’ contains articles questioning the truthfulness of the professor’s accusers.
Ramadan published a book ‘Devoir de Verite (Duty of Truth)’ in September setting out in public his defence, accompanied by a number of media appearances and online videos. In the 300-page book, Ramadan – who initially denied physical contact with his accusers before admitting to having ‘consensual sex’ with both women … described his alleged victims as ‘all liars’ and ‘women who were jealous or who felt cheated and who looked to settle scores after the facts’. He also accuses French judges of ‘deep hostility’ towards him.
“The articles give an image of me of a white supremacist,” says Christelle, referring to articles posted on the site linking her to hard-right politician Marine Le Pen. “I’ve received messages like: ‘When are you going to commit suicide? When are you going to open your veins?’ All the horrendous things that you can imagine have been said about me. That I’m a whore as well, that I’m a prostitute who was in jail already in the past, that I have peep show companies, sex shops, even that I eat the doo-doo of fifty year old men. And the purpose of that is to make my image dirty. For all the people who may be related to me in terms of friendship, socially, professionally, would be impacted as well. . . “
Christelle, 47, who claims to have first contacted Ramadan to wish him a happy new year on December 31, 2008 after converting to Islam says she is speaking out to protect other Muslim women. She no longer practises the religion.
“It is always going to be difficult for Muslim women to speak up about sexual harrassment and abuse because they are going to lose their family, they’re going to lose their friends, and they’re never going to be able to marry and create a family because they will be dirty forever. They’re called whores. That’s it.
“I’ve had some people saying what happened to me was just the life of a Muslim woman, as if women’s rights, depending on whether you are Muslim or not are not the same. ‘Oh, your husband hits you? Well, it’s serious if you’re not a Muslim woman. But if you’re a Muslim woman, it’s normal, it’s tradition, so let’s respect tradition. This thing is absolutely discriminatory and a cover for protecting tradition and the culture of people. I don’t want Muslim women to feel frightened. I want them to feel like they’re going to be listened to.”
The second woman he is charged with raping, feminist activist Henda Ayari, went public with her accusation he raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012.
In an interview with French television in September, Ramadan . . . suggested ‘anti-Muslim racism’ in France was fuelling his demonisation. Ramadan said: “I have kept silent, since public opinion and the media have determined I am guilty”.
The case against Ramadan was earlier this year expanded when a woman in her 50s claimed he and one of his staff raped her when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014. The accuser, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing ‘threats or acts of intimidation’ to dissuade her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, French judicial sources said. She described the alleged attack as being of ‘untold violence’ and claimed when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: ‘You don’t know how powerful I am.’
He also faces a rape allegation in his native Switzerland.
Christelle believes he should be back in jail following these allegations, but he currently remains on bail and has to a local police station every week.
A spokesman for Oxford University, from where Ramadan was asked to take a leave of absence, said the former professor has ‘categorically denied’ the allegations. It added: ‘The university has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process.