Tariq Ramadan: Update on Islam’s Golden Boy
The Oxford professor turns out to have been a sexual predator of the worst kind.
When last we heard about Tariq Ramadan, at one time the most famous Muslim “public intellectual” in the Western world, he had fallen from grace. The curtain was pulled back and as one woman after another came forward to charge him with rape, he was revealed to be not only a serial rapist, but one who enjoyed humiliating – and physically hurting – his victims. He has been allowed out of prison, and awaits trial in Paris. He may also have to face trial in Geneva, with a different set of accusers. In the wake of these charges, he was relieved of his prestigious position at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. His travels across the world to lecture eager audiences on “the ethics of Islam” also came to a halt. Few want to hear the serial rapist dilate upon “ethics” of any kind. For many, Ramadan has become an object of ridicule, scorn, and embarrassment. But he’s not withdrawn from public life; he’s still proclaiming his innocence, and still trying to keep himself in the public eye, even starting a new career as a singer of protest songs against the malevolent West.
As I have pointed out previously, before Tariq Ramadan was charged with being a serial – and violent – rapist, he had been the Islamic world’s golden boy. He was hailed as a “towering intellect” and a “leading Islamic scholar.” In 2000, TIME called Tariq Ramadan “one of the seven most important religious innovators” of the 21st century; in 2004, TIME named Ramadan as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” In Internet polls, Foreign Policy magazine listed Ramadan as one of the “100 top global thinkers” in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. No longer.
Now after so many revelations have come out about this monstrous human being, for so long the privileged paladin of Islam in Europe, he’s unlikely to be ever taken seriously again. He still has his supporters. The Qatari Emir apparently is still providing him with 35,000 Euros a month. He won’t starve. He and his wife recently bought two luxury apartments in Paris. But he is no longer taken seriously as a “thinker.” It turns out that what has brought him down is not his stout defense, over decades, of both his grandfather, Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and of the Brotherhood itself. Nor is it his years of well-practiced taqiyya on behalf of Islam, lecturing here, debating there, speaking one way before Muslim audiences and quite another way before the Infidels. He’s well-versed in the practice of mendacity, dismissing all mention of the relentlessly increasing threat from Muslims in the West to the well–being of Unbelievers. No, it is something more sensational. Professor Tariq Ramadan, formerly of Oxford, turns out to have been a sexual predator of the worst kind.
Behind that impassive mask of the thoughtful, soft-spoken, well-mannered academic was someone quite different. One of his rape victims described him as being “transformed before my very eyes into a vile, vulgar, aggressive being – physically and verbally…when I cried to him to stop, he insulted and humiliated me. He slapped me and attacked me. I saw in his crazy eyes that he was no longer master of himself. I was afraid he would kill me…I started crying uncontrollably. He mocked me. He choked me hard that I thought I was going to die.”
Another of his rape victims, who has a disability in her legs, described Ramadan as subjecting her “to a terrifying and violent sexual assault.”
Still another described how he “sexually harassed her and blackmailed her for sexual favors.”
A fourth said in her own relationship with Ramadan she was “scared for her life”: “He can be very, very violent, grabbing you very violently, expecting from you any sexual practice and demanding it aggressively enough.”
These were women, all of them Muslim, who had been admirers of Ramadan, which is why they initially accepted his invitation to further discuss Islam, often after his lectures, in his hotel room. And that’s where Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde. Or he was like the figure of Treachery as Chaucer described him: “the smyler with the knyf under the cloke.”
Of the four victims in Paris, two have already brought charges, while the two others are still considering it. It’s not an easy choice. There is a reasonable fear that Ramadan’s supporters may indeed harm those, or the families of those, who dare bring those charges. Some may share the view Ramadan expressed that these charges are all part of an anti-Islam conspiracy, designed to bring him down, presumably because he has been an eloquent defender of Islam, perfectly fluent in both French and English; of course allusions to a “Zionist plot” against him have already been made.
Nor can it have been easy for his accusers to make public what they were forced to endure, including deliberately humiliating sexual practices which were forced on these women, or that they were forced to perform, by the “vile, vulgar, aggressive being” Ramadan became. Many women will want to spare their husbands or children from learning about these things. So we may never know the full extent of his record as a sexual predator.
The first to reveal the story of what she had suffered from Tariq Ramadan was the former Salafist, and now liberal Muslim, Henda Ayari, who had written about Ramadan in her book I Chose To Be Free, describing what she suffered at his hands in great detail. But when she wrote the book she was not yet ready to name him; in the book he is called “Zoubeyr.” Finally,, inspired by all the stories at #metoo and #balancetonporc (which contain the stories of women who had been subject to sexual assault), she was ready to name Ramadan, which is exactly what she did, bringing charges for rape, and inspiring three other Muslim women to tell their stories, quite similar to hers, about how Ramadan had savagely mistreated them.
How did Oxford react? The head of the Middle East Studies Centre, Eugene Rogan, in explaining why Ramadan would continue to teach, continue to meet one-on-one with female students for whom he was their tutor or supervisor, offered a bizarre justification: “It’s not just about sexual violence. For some students it’s just another way for Europeans to gang up against a prominent Muslim intellectual. We must protect Muslim students who believe and trust in him, and protect that trust.”
In other words, Rogan was suggesting that the claims of some, presumably Muslim, students, that this whole business was merely a gang-up to take down Ramadan, might have some validity. He should instead have answered forthrightly that anyone who might have thought that way is simply wrong, noting that all four of his accusers in Paris were Muslims, that far from there being any sign of a “gang-up,” they had been most reluctant to come forward, and that two were still unsure of whether they would bring charges. What makes Rogan’s statement even more unacceptable is that apparently the students at the Middle East Studies Centre were not rallying around Ramadan, whom they supposedly “trusted” — Rogan’s justification for keeping him on — but quite the contrary, they were angry that he was being allowed to teach. The Cherwell, the Oxford student paper, reported that “students at the Oxford Middle East Centre have reacted in anger to the University’s response to the mounting accusations of rape against Islamic professor Tariq Ramadan, accusing senior figures of acting ‘as if nothing had happened.’” They were angry at not being kept informed of the charges against Ramadan. What angered the students was the behavior of the “senior figures,” with Eugene Rogan at their head, who acted as if nothing had happened and allowed Ramadan to continue his tutorial and supervisory functions. The students exhibited a moral clarity that eluded those “senior figures.” Rogan has still not explained why he thinks Oxford had a duty to keep “the trust” of Muslim students by itself trusting Ramadan. And one might note that these students did not think what Eugene Rogan ascribed to them but, rather, were angry with the “senior figures” at the Middle East Centre for being too trusting of Tariq Ramadan, in allowing him to continue in his tutorial and supervisory roles with female students
That might have been the whole story. Ramadan might have continued to teach at Oxford, while trying to paint those who had accused him in Paris as part of an anti-Islam cabal. It could only help his image, and therefore his version of events, were he still being allowed to teach — it would have signaled a vote of confidence from “senior figures” at the Middle East Centre, who were prepared to give him the benefit of every doubt. But then something happened, in Switzerland, that changed everything – and led to Oxford’s decision to cut all ties to Ramadan.
Quite independently of the investigation in Paris of charges brought by Muslim women against Ramadan, the Tribune de Geneve looked into Ramadan’s record when he taught in the 1980s and 1990s at a high school in Geneva. And they discovered that when he was a teacher, he seduced four underage girls, having sexual relations with three of them.
One, known as Sandra, was 15 when Mr Ramadan made advances towards her. She said he told her: “I feel close to you. You are mature. You are special. I am surrounded by many people but I feel lonely.” She started spending time with him outside of school, and “two or three times we had intimate relationships. At the back of his car.” She added: “He said it was our secret.”
Another, Lea, said she was 14 years old when the teacher approached her during a trip. “He put my hand on my mouth telling me he knew I was thinking about him in the evening before falling asleep. Which was wrong. It was manipulation. He said he thought of me but he was married.”
In her case, she says nothing physical happened. She described him as a “crooked, intimidating man who used perverse relational ploys and abused the trust of his students. There was such an impression [pressure?] on us.”
A third woman, known as Agathe, was 18 and described being “captivated by the speech of this charismatic teacher.” She said Mr Ramadan invited her for a coffee outside of school, “and then I had sex with him. He was married and a father. This happened three times, especially in his car. It was consented but very violent. I had bruises all over my body.”
Agathe says the scholar [!] threatened her and demanded she tell no one about the encounters. “It was an abuse of power, pure and simple.”
The fourth woman, Claire, was 17 when the pair started a relationship and 18 when they first had intercourse. “I was fascinated, under his control. He took me, threw me [about], established a relationship of dependence.”
None of these incidents was made public before now, with one of the women expressing feelings of “disgust” and “shame” which made her stay quiet.
How many more girls and women in Geneva remain too “disgusted” and “ashamed” for what they allowed themselves to endure from their respected “prof” Tariq Ramadan to come forward even now? How many more Muslim women in Paris who were admirers of the famous “scholar” Tariq Ramadan and were invited to discuss the subject of Islam in his hotel room with the great moralizer, and then were choked, beaten, raped, and threatened, will never come forward, out of shame, disgust, horror, a desire not to share such humiliations with a husband children, friends, the public? Yet there is always the possibility that more women, in Geneva, in Paris, possibly in Oxford (surely he would have taken advantage of students there) will step forward. A permanent sword of Damocles hangs over the head of the once seemingly invulnerable Tariq Ramadan. No one deserves it more.
In the past Ramadan always managed to overcome setbacks. He did not take up an appointment at the University of Leiden, after he was accused of being a “radical Islamist” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” but landed on his feet, being then made a guest professor of Identity and Citizenship at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Again, he was dismissed by both the City of Rotterdam and Erasmus University from his positions as “integration adviser” and professor, because both the university and the city’s leaders felt that the program he hosted on Iran’s Press TV, Islam & Life, was “irreconcilable” with his duties in Rotterdam. A devastating book about his forked tongue, his defense of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his refusal to condemn outright some of the worst features of Islam (as the stoning of women to death for adultery), Caroline Fourest’s Frere Tariq, did not prevent Ramadan from becoming a professor at Oxford’s Middle East Centre, with a chair named, and paid for, by the ruler of Qatar. But now his past, as a violent sexual predator, seducing girls, attacking women, has caught up with him, first in Paris, and then in Geneva, and finally, in Oxford, where he was initially made only to take a “leave of absence” but then the university severed all ties with him, except that for several years after, it continued to pay his salary, as requested by the Qataris who have been big donors to Oxford and who had paid for Tariq Ramadan’s endowed chair. And Qatar continues to pay him a separate monthly amount of $40,000. Even in his disgrace, he continues to take in well over a half-million dollars a year. After all that has been revealed, he has run out of academic places willing to employ him; he can’t even get a job at the university in Doha, despite the Qatari Emir’s previous support of Ramadan. Judges in Paris and Geneva, now waiting to put him on trial, may finally give Tariq Ramadan his just deserts. And it will have had nothing to do with Islam.