Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Alleged rapist Tariq Ramadan hires convicted teacher for his new school

Yacob Mahi was barred from teaching for 10 years for assaulting pupils

Scholar Tariq Ramadan has recruited a convicted teacher to work at his new educational establishment. AP.
Scholar Tariq Ramadan has recruited a convicted teacher to work at his new educational establishment. AP.

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has recruited a barred teacher who showed support for the Charlie Hebdo massacre to work in his new school.

Mr Ramadan is launching a centre in France to teach ethics and feminism this month, despite being suspended from his Oxford University post over rape allegations.

The new centre has announced its faith and belief teacher will be Yacob Mahi, who last year was given a three-year prison sentence in Belgium, suspended for five years, for assaulting pupils and immoral acts.

Mr Ramadan, 58, who is the grandson of the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was given a leave of absence from his post at Oxford University after he was charged in France with raping a feminist activist in 2012 and a disabled woman in 2009.

In February this year he was charged with two further rapes, and the expanded rape investigations into Mr Ramadan are still continuing. He denies all the charges.

Now, his controversial centre faces renewed criticism after he announced Mahi would be joining the staff, despite being barred from teaching for 10 years.

Last November a court in Belgium ruled Mahi "used violence in order to establish his authority with the students" and declared physical violence was "in no way tolerable" in a modern school.

Sympathy for Charlie Hebdo attackers

Mahi also expressed support for the Charlie Hebdo killings, which resulted in the deaths of 17 people in three days, including 11 during the attack on the editorial staff of the satirical newspaper.

He wrote a letter expressing his views a month after the January 2015 attack, while working as a professor of Islamic religion at the Leonardo Da Vinci Athenaeum secondary school in Anderlecht.

Many of his pupils sympathised with the terrorists and mounted a petition to force a history teacher to resign who had condemned the attack.

A pupil who refused to sign the petition was also assaulted.

Mahi tried to appeal the Charlie Hebdo ruling last month at the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds of freedom of expression, but judges unanimously threw it out, declaring his request “inadmissible” and “manifestly ill-founded”, specifying the tension which reigned within the school following the Paris attacks.

"[These tensions] were characterised by attacks by the students of this establishment against another teacher from the same establishment who had defended Charlie Hebdo and by attacks against a student who had refused to sign a petition against this teacher,” the judge said.

On Twitter, Mr Ramadan said Mahi will be conducting face to face lessons at the institution.

Mr Ramadan is opening Chifa, an international research and training centre for students based in France, in October.

The topics in the curriculum include religion, spirituality, humanism and law, as well as ethics and feminism.

“Courses will be taught by a team of teachers around the themes of religion, spirituality, humanity, psychology, feminism, ecology, teaching, ethics, colonialism, racism, law, economy, etc. You will be able to sign up for ‘face-to-face’ and ‘distance’ classes, basic classes or more targeted modules,” he wrote.

Mr Ramadan’s project has been met with anger due to the rape allegations he is facing, and the case has been dubbed the #MeToo of the Muslim world.

Last year he portrayed himself as a victim of a political witch hunt in a book he published.

Being charged in France does not necessarily mean a suspect will end up on trial, as a case can still be dropped for lack of evidence.

Oxford University has previously told The National he had taken a leave of absence “by mutual agreement”.

Updated: October 6, 2020 06:59 PM

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