On Monday, the trial of the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan, began before a criminal court in Switzerland on charges of “rape and sexual coercion.”
Islamic thinker Tariq Ramadan, who suffers from depression and multiple sclerosis, affirmed his determination to “confront lies and manipulation” with the start of his trial before a criminal court in Geneva on charges of “rape and sexual coercion”, which he denies committing.
Tariq Ramadan arrived with a smile at 08:30 (06:30 GMT) to the court, where many people attended to follow up on the sessions, which are expected to be tense, as the plaintiff demanded the establishment of a barrier separating her from him.
The latter’s lawyer, Frenchman Francois Zimray, a former diplomat and human rights expert, told AFP that his client “expects a difficult and painful confrontation, but she is ready for it and is convinced that this battle is both a duty and an ordeal.”
The Swiss plaintiff “complainant”, who says she lives under threat and uses the pseudonym “Brigitte”, was about 40 years old when the alleged incidents took place some 15 years ago.
She asserts that Ramadan subjected her to brutal sexual acts, accompanied by beatings and insults, on the evening of October 28, 2008, in a hotel room in Geneva.
Tariq Ramadan, 60, who may also face trial for similar incidents in France, admitted that he met the plaintiff, but confirmed during the investigation that he had given up the idea of having a sexual relationship with her. He said Monday before the court: “I suffer from depression and I want to defend the truth. I am here because I want to confront. I will not let lies and manipulation overcome me.” He affirmed his innocence in front of the audience, including his children, saying, “I have never abused anyone in my life.”
The Swiss thinker, who is causing controversy in European Islamic circles, faces the possibility of a prison sentence of two to ten years if he is convicted. The verdict will be issued on May 24, according to the judicial authorities in Geneva. Tariq Ramadan can appeal the verdict.
Judicial control in France
On Monday, the defense revealed that it would summon, among the witnesses, one of the former close associates of the plaintiff, the controversial French comedian Dieudonne, whose name was mentioned in an anonymous letter received by the court.
Ramadan holds a PhD from the University of Geneva, where he wrote a dissertation on the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, his maternal grandfather. He was a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom until November 2017, and a guest professor at several universities in Morocco, Malaysia, Japan and Qatar.
On Monday, he confirmed that he suffers from multiple sclerosis and depression, and that he had embarked on early retirement, according to which he would receive a salary from Oxford University, estimating his annual income at 36 thousand French francs and his wealth between 700 and 800 thousand francs.
Ramadan is popular among conservative Islam, but it raises controversy, especially among advocates of secularism, who consider it a supporter of political Islam.
In France, he is suspected of committing rape between 2009 and 2016, targeting four women, a case that caused his downfall in 2017. In July, the Paris Public Prosecution requested that he be referred to the criminal court, and it is up to the investigating judges to decide whether or not to try him.
In the framework of the French file, he was temporarily imprisoned for nine months in 2018 and released in November of the same year. He has been under judicial control since then.
One of the legal conditions imposed on him is residence in France, but he obtains exceptional permission to leave French territory to go to Switzerland in the context of the current case.
During the investigation, “Brigitte”, who converted to Islam, said that she met Ramadan during a signing session for one of his books months before the night of October 28, 2008, and then during a conference in September, and that was followed by more intimate correspondences through social media.
On the night of the supposed facts, she met him at a hotel where he was staying in Geneva. The Islamic thinker confirmed that he repelled her after her “attempts (to establish a relationship with him) became very urgent.”
The head of the court asked him, “How do you explain these attempts while she was on her monthly habit? Ramadan replied, “The question must be asked to her.” On the other hand, “Brigitte” reports that Ramadan forced her in the room over a period of hours to perform sexual acts accompanied by violence.
The indictment states that he committed “three rapes” during the same night, as well as “sexual coercion” during which she nearly suffocated.