New York – Tariq Ramadan, the most prominent scholar of Islam in Europe, was incarcerated on February 2nd of this year, and placed in solitary confinement despite the presumption of innocence since he has not actually been convicted of any crime.
Tariq Ramadan turned himself in, so there was no reason for the authorities to detain him claiming he posed a flight risk. He was also denied access to his own judicial file and mail, which makes his defense more complicated than that of any other similar case.
Ramadan has been treated in a way that is harsher than that of most convicted rapists and murderers all while there is no sufficient evidence to support any of the rape charges. Solitary confinement is reserved for the most dangerous and despicable criminals and yet, Ramadan, while innocent, was placed there for months. The systematic vilification of Tariq Ramadan is carried out in the cowardliest of manners: they prevent him from speaking and defending himself and continue to spread baseless accusations against his character.
The evidence and testimony of the witnesses, who are coincidentally profiting enormously from their newfound fame and willingness to participate in the demonization of Muslims and Islam, has completely fallen apart. Countless falsehoods, holes and contradictions are found in the testimony of both Henda Ayari and “Christelle,” among which is the fact that they both claimed not to know each other when in fact they had been communicating and texting for years. Ayari had also been in contact with some with some of the most powerful Islamophobes in French media.
The accusations of these two women are entirely insubstantial and the French judges know it quite well. As an attorney, I find it enormously problematic and shocking that the French legal system insists on keeping Tariq Ramadan incarcerated, and under the most inhumane of conditions at that, while having literally zero evidence to find him guilty. For two months, Tariq Ramadan was denied the right to receive visitations, including those of his wife and children. I repeat: Ramadan has not been convicted of any crime. In the French legal system, theoretically, (although clearly not in practice if one happens to be a Muslim Arab man they happen to want to silence and destroy) a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, just as in the American system.
Because of the recent “Me Too” movement, with its onslaught of sexual misconduct and rape allegations against various famous personalities, it is simple to compare the treatment other similarly situated men have received. The torture Ramadan is being subjected to has not been inflicted upon anybody else accused of rape. This includes French President Macron’s two ministers Gérard Darmanin and Nicolas Hulot, who were accused of rape but not jailed or placed in “preventive” detention at any time. So why is Ramadan being dehumanized and treated in this manner?
I have been terribly distressed, hurt and angry from the beginning of this affair. My heart and constant prayers go out to Tariq Ramadan, his family, loved ones, all his followers and supporters. I strongly urge the Muslim community globally, as well as everybody else who claims to believe in justice, basic dignity, and the human treatment of individuals, to pay attention. Please do not ignore the Tariq Ramadan case. Do some thinking, some thorough research and analysis. Do not jump to conclusions when a key Muslim scholar suddenly becomes accused of crimes he may or may not have committed. Never take accusations for granted as proof that a crime happened. I personally strongly believe he did not commit these crimes and is being framed. Tariq Ramadan is extremely inconvenient to the current global structures of power. He is a strong, powerful and charismatic figure that draws millions of followers in Europe, America and globally. This is the best way to silence him and in fact (God forbid and protect Tariq Ramadan and give him the strength to prevail) perhaps even kill him:
While he was strong and in perfect health when he entered jail in February, he is now nearly unable to walk. His multiple sclerosis and neuropathy have been improperly treated. He has been subjected to the horrors of solitary confinement for months at an end, which is also destroying him mentally. While ignoring the results of 9 different medical records, which all resulted in the incontrovertible conclusion that his health is not compatible with jail, his lawyer’s request for further medical examinations, and of course, his release, have been refused by the greatly “just” French judges, who will be accountable for the suffering they are inflicting on him, his family and community.
Tariq Ramadan’s treatment is unconscionable, shameful and a disgrace to France. It is transparently a complete pretext to devastate Tariq Ramadan’s career, destroy him physically, mentally and in the eyes of many of his followers, who, given the situation Muslims endure globally, subjected to the powerful Islamophobia machinery, the latter is fairly easy to do. Many Muslims feel insecure, are subject to constant or frequent abuse, oppression and discrimination, and while many fare remarkably well and keep their strength, others lose hope, and due to exhaustion and the penetration and internalization of this damaging rhetoric in all media nonstop, come to believe that “they must be right” and Tariq must have done something terrible like rape some “poor” and “innocent” women.
Please: it is not so simple. We need to wake up. This is a strong message and we need to stand behind Tariq Ramadan and support him fully. Even if somebody makes the worst of mistakes (again, I am personally convinced he did not rape the women), he deserves human treatment, sympathy and the support of the community he contributed tremendously to for so many years. We also need to think in larger, structural ways and ask ourselves not only small questions such as if Tariq Ramadan is innocent or not, but, more importantly: who gains the most by eliminating him? Who is benfitting from all this? Why is he being treated so differently than other men accused of similar crimes? We are not to presume and take for granted the accusations and conclusions of the very people who have a huge stake in destroying him. This is the worst possible thing to do.
Back to facts: Defense counsel requested freeing Tariq Ramadan and placing him in house arrest, which would be more than sufficiently adequate for a person who is not guilty of anything, but merely being investigated, an investigation which is far from being carried out in a transparent and smooth way, by the way. These requests have been repeatedly denied. Petitions that he be placed in a communal house under arrest with police surveillance have been likewise denied. The reasons the courts give are completely ridiculous, such as “he may rape again” even under such exceptional circumstances. The man has not even been convicted of raping to begin with. The women accusing him have instead been shown to be liars. No matter how hard and diligently they try, they cannot make the evidence fit because there is none. All there is are baseless allegations attempting to serve as the proof of the point they are trying to make. No. In any “justice system” actual, substantial evidence is required to jail anybody for this length of time.
Eight months after this painful ordeal began with Henda Ayari’s false accusations, she has, to this day, been unable to produce a single piece of evidence. However, she is greatly able to benefit from her repulsive actions, and keeps appearing in red-carpet events, writing books she has no business writing because she is frankly mentally incompetent by any standards one judges her. It is a disgrace how cheaply some people are willing to sell not only themselves, but willing to destroy the life of those who have, through painstakingly diligent effort, done so much for the Muslim community, devoting their lives to uplift others and spread knowledge. Even these brilliant characters are human and make mistakes. Perhaps they, God forbid, may even become occasionally attracted to women. This does not make them rapists. And this does not mean they should be tortured as Tariq Ramadan is being tortured. This entire situation is wrong no matter how one looks at it. As is the reaction of many in the Muslim community who have jumped to conclusions and summarily condemn Tariq Ramadan. The only proven crime to this day is the one that continues to be perpetrated by the French against Tariq Ramadan: the infliction of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and financial torture, defamation, etc etc.
Henda Ayari’s computer and cell phones have been thoroughly searched by the police and technical experts have produced zero evidence. However, when she began her false campaign against Ramadan, she claimed she had plenty of evidence. Tariq Ramadan’s lawyer, however, produced incontestable evidence of the fact that while she claimed she had stopped contacting Ramadan in 2013, more than 300 emails from her to him were produced, dating August 2014, where Ayari was actually the one begging him to see her, not cut her off, meet her, etc. This is all after the alleged rape, and after she shamefully claimed in public, blatantly lying, that she was “terrified” of Ramadan to such an extent that even saying his name was difficult.
Now, as women, we really need to be careful with what we say. There is a strong propaganda machine that “brainwashes” people to levels we may not be aware. Ayari is not a stable person mentally and it is clear and obvious to most competent people that becoming an Islamophobe is a profitable career choice these days, as is selling fake and shallow new-age spirituality under the guise of “Sufism,” coming from people who have no business guiding others since they cannot manage to even guide their own selves or families and know nothing whatsoever of the Islamic tradition. We need to wake up and re-assess our values and priorities. All of this is terribly wrong and will sooner or later have devastating consequences not just for those we harm or falsely guide, but for our own selves too. I am not asking for altruism, but for self-consciousness and a minimum degree of integrity, reflection and honesty.
For a thorough analysis on the Tariq Ramadan case, please read Alain Gabon’s excellent analysis, which I used to write this article. I often have to stop myself from checking on Tariq Ramadan because my outrage and heartbreak become paralyzing. Also please read Peter Oborne’s article on Tariq Ramadan and the integrity of French “justice,” and finally, my own article for Morocco World News, which I happily discovered was republished by Arab America: On the Overlooked Stigmatization of Muslim, Arab, Latin Men. Tariq Ramadan would never have been treated in this cruelest of manners had he been a white prominent scholar, and we all know this. The standards used to judge an Arab man are entirely different than those used for European or American white men. This is so wrong. And needs to stop. Please sign the petition to support Tariq Ramadan’s immediate release.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.
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