Oxford teacher still holds academic chair amid several rape accusations

Oxford teacher still holds academic chair amid several rape accusations

Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born professor of contemporary Islamic Studies at the prestigious University of Oxford was accused of rape, yet still occupies his chair at Oxford

Last month, after the revelations of the Weinstein scandal, many women took to social media “to report sexual harassment and violence they had suffered and often left unreported due to fears of repercussions.” Many prominent actors, politicians and businessmen faced these accusations, organised around the Twitter hashtag #MeToo, and in some cases leading to their resignation or dismissal. For example, the British Defence Minister, Michael Fallon, resigned on November 2nd after being accused of inappropriate behaviour by a journalist.

This is what led Henda Ayari, a former religious fundamentalist and now head of the feminist organisation Les Libératrices, to publicly accuse Tariq Ramadan, a controversial Oxford scholar, of raping her after a conference in Paris in 2012. “He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die” she told Le Parisien. She claims that he then forced her not to report the incident by threatening her children and herself. Many more women have now come forward denouncing the professor of rape and accusing him of sexually harassing minors. The most recent accusation involves a relationship in the early 2000 with a 15-year-old. Although consensual, the affair has been reported as violent and happened while she was his student (the youngest age of consent in Switzerland is 16).

“It happened three times, at the back of his car. It was consensual but very violent. I had marks all over my body. He’s always made me believe I asked for it. The story got out, and he threatened me, asking for my silence,” the victim told La Tribune de Genève last week, the biggest Swiss Francophone Newspaper.

Ramadan, whose grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is known for his controversial appearance. He failed to condemn stoning in a clash with the former Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2003. Ever since the accusations were made, Le Monde reports that anti-semitic attacks (God knows why) and death threats against Mrs. Ayari have skyrocketed. Many now denounce the hypocrisy between the radical religious stances of Tariq Ramadan and the nature of the accusations.

Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper that suffered a bloody Islamist terror attack in 2015, made the story its front page last week and has also been receiving death threats. Since then, the Paris Prosecution Department has opened an investigation and the French Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe has expressed his hope of seeing prosecutions in the near future.

After the Weinstein scandal broke out before any formal legal complaint, Harvey Weinstein was kicked out of his company as well as has been dismissed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board, also known as the Academy. When Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct on a minor, his multi-million-dollar show and his soon-to-be-released movie were cancelled, before any form of legal procedure.

Amid increasing discussions of “rape culture” on college and university campuses, and two weeks after the first rape accusations were made against him, Tariq Ramadan returned to Oxford. He will continue to teach his Islamic Philosophy and Theology module and carry on his one-on-one tutorials with students for whom he supervises Master’s dissertations.

Eugene Rogan, the Oxford director of the Middle East Centre at St. Anthony’s, even came out defending Ramadan saying he had been accused because he is a “prominent Muslim.” Tariq Ramadan has since been put on leave of absence from the University, however still remains the owner of its Qatar-funded academic chair at Oxford.

Featured image: The New York Times

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