French court rejects appeal to drop Tariq Ramadan charges

The Islamic scholar is accused of sexually assaulting two women in 2009 and 2012

FILE - In this Feb.7 2016 file photo, Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan delivers a speech during a French Muslim organizations meeting in Lille, northern France.  A French judge has decided to keep prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan in detention, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, four days after he was charged with two alleged cases of rape by women who sought his counsel. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)
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A French court has rejected a request by Tariq Ramadan to drop the two rape charges levelled against the accused academic.

Investigations into the 56-year-old, who is currently on bail and has surrendered his passport to the French authorities, are now set to continue.

The Oxford University professor was accused of raping two woman in 2009 and 2012. One is the outspoken feminist and activist Henda Ayari and the other, a disabled convert to Islam who has been named only as “Christelle,” has said Mr Ramadan assaulted her too.

Mr Ramadan had previously denied having any sexual contact with either women but changed his story when nearly 400 explicit text messages between him and Christelle were discovered in October. Some were said to describe detailed sexual fantasies and dated back to the latter months of 2009, the same year Mr Ramadan is alleged to have raped and assaulted Christelle.

He was released on a €300,000 (Dh1.24 million) bail last November after ten months in a French jail. The Swiss academic was a professor at Oxford University but agreed to take a leave of absence in November 2017 when the allegations surfaced.

A married father of four, Mr Ramadan’s Egyptian grandfather was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and his brother Hani heads the movement’s Islamic Centre of Geneva.

Mr Ramadan says his accusers have manipulated the furore and leveraged interest in the rise of the #MeToo movement against him. Since his arrest he claims he has developed multiple sclerosis and, as such, should not be in detention.

His supporters say the coming months “will be critical to determine if Tariq Ramadan will be able to walk again without a walker”.