New evidence added to Tariq Ramadan rape case

Prosecutors to look into two potential victims identified from Islamic scholar's computer records

MARCH 29, 2010, DOHA, QATAR: Professor Tariq Ramadan, a west-based Muslim scholar and intellectual. Abu Nadha for The National
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The French authorities have expanded an investigation against Tariq Ramadan, the Islamic scholar already charged in France with raping two women, to include evidence from two more alleged victims, judicial sources said on Sunday.

Mr Ramadan, a Swiss national, 57, has already been charged in France with raping a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012. He denies the charges.

Paris prosecutors earlier this month instructed the investigating magistrate handling the case to look into the evidence from "two new potential victims" over incidents that took place in 2015 and 2016, a judicial source told Agence France-Presse, confirming a report in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Investigators took witness statements from the two women after they were identified from documents found on Mr Ramadan's computers. The women themselves have not filed a criminal complaint.

But they both say they were led into a brutal sexual relationship with Mr Ramadan, one from November-December 2015 and the other in March 2016.

"It was something other than physical rape, it went beyond that ... there was a moral rape," one of the women said in her testimony seen by AFP.

"He had such a hold on you that you did everything that he demanded. But this relationship was consensual, yes," she said.

"I asked him to be milder, but he said 'it is your fault, you deserve it' and that he needed to be obeyed, which is what I did," the other said.

Le Journal du Dimanche said prosecutors believe the two testimonies contained "serious and concurring" evidence that could incriminate Mr Ramadan.

Mr Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, could face up to 15 years in jail if convicted of the current rape charges, and another 20 years for the sexual assault of a disabled woman.

He was professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the "Me Too" movement in late 2017.

He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for more than nine months before being granted bail.

Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country while two other criminal complaints of rape have been filed relating to incidents in March 2018 and July 2019.

Mr Ramadan has in the last week gone on a media offensive to deny all the allegations against him, publishing a book called Duty of Truth and insisting all his relationships have been consensual.

A French court this month turned down an appeal by one of his accusers to block publication of the book on the grounds that it would reveal her identity. The court ruled that the identity of the woman, who is referred to in the media by the pseudonym Christelle, was already known to the public. But it also accepted that damage would be done to if her real name was revealed and ruled Mr Ramadan must pay her a symbolic single euro.

Mr Ramadan initially denied any sexual encounter with Christelle but later admitted to a consensual relationship in 2009.