Paris – The Free Tariq Ramadan Campaign unequivocally condemns the indefinite detention of Professor Ramadan and unjust denial of his due process. Prof. Ramadan has not been convicted of a single crime and we demand his immediate release. There is evidence that he is the target of a politically motivated prosecution masked as a criminal investigation. The French prosecution’s case rests on unsubstantiated claims and flimsy evidence.
Since February 2, Prof. Ramadan has been held in a solitary cell in the high security wing of Paris’s Fleury-Mérogis prison. Since last Wednesday, January 31, when Prof. Ramadan voluntarily went to the police station in Paris to answer questions about the allegations leveled against him, his family has been denied access either to visit or speak with him over the phone. It remains unclear when Prof. Ramadan’s family will be able to communicate with him and check on his condition.
At the end of the Tuesday hearing, Prof. Ramadan was ordered by a judge to be held indefinitely, allowing the prosecution to continue to build its case against him. The prosecution maintains that he may attempt to flee the country, and went to the extreme of forcing his detention despite Prof. Ramadan’s full cooperation with investigators so far. In fact, he traveled to France more than one week ago to meet with investigators, fully confident of his innocence. Despite his show of goodwill and trust in the system, the judge apparently considered no alternative options, which would ensure that he remain in France during the ongoing investigation.
This unusually harsh treatment further points to the politicized nature of a case that suffers from serious weaknesses and multiple contradictions.
It is based on unsubstantiated claims made by accusers with questionable motives. Prof. Ramadan’s legal team has already presented evidence that casts serious doubts upon their stories. One of the two plaintiffs, known as “Christelle”, alleges that she was raped in a hotel in Lyon in the afternoon of October 9, 2009. In response, Prof. Ramadan’s defense attorney provided an airline reservation showing that Prof. Ramadan’s flight from London did not arrive in Lyon until 6:35 PM—and he was in a lecture hall by 8:30 PM to give a speech to hundreds in attendance.
Although Prof. Ramadan’s legal team provided this crucial piece of evidence to the French police, and they subsequently confirmed receiving it, the police later suspiciously claimed that it was “missing” from the case file because it had been “lost”. This major discrepancy challenging “Christelle’s” story appears not to have been taken into consideration, neither in the prosecution’s decision to press charges, nor in the examining magistrates’ decision to continue unjustly holding Prof. Ramadan in prison.
Serious questions are likewise raised by a meeting between “Christelle” and a high-ranking French magistrate, Michel Debacq, in 2009 with the apparent intention of bringing a case against Prof. Ramadan, with the assistance of notorious islamophobes Caroline Fourest and Antoine Sfeir. Debacq would thus appear to have unethically colluded with Fourest and “Christelle” against Prof. Ramadan nine years ago. Debacq, who now serves in France’s Court of Cassation, did not disclose his previous involvement either with “Christelle” or the current case, which is illegal according to French law.
In such circumstances, can France’s judicial system be relied upon for the neutrality essential for a fair and just disposition of the allegations against Prof. Ramadan?
Another major discrepancy in the case lies with Henda Ayari, the other accuser. Ayari claims that she was allegedly raped in April 2012. But Facebook messages presented by the defense reveal that Ayari sent Prof. Ramadan no fewer than 280 messages via Facebook between June and August 2014, more than two years after the alleged incident. Ayari recently admitted to French media that she did indeed send these messages through a second Facebook account she had created - after Prof. Ramadan had blocked her first account because she was harassing him - in the hope that she could seduce and entrap him. These recent revelations may be the reason why Ayari did not appear when French police summoned her last week.
These facts raise serious questions about both the manner in which the investigation is being carried out, as well as the veracity of the claims. Nonetheless, the prosecution and its allies in the mainstream media have advanced several other unsubstantiated claims and distortions in an attempt to smear Prof. Ramadan.
The mainstream media’s nefarious role in this latest campaign has been especially damaging. French media outlets continue to peddle misinformation and repeat verbatim the so-called “evidence” held by prosecutors without any attempt to verify their claims. This includes:
The unsourced claim in several media reports that Prof. Ramadan has an Egyptian passport, which he might attempt to use in order to flee to Egypt. Prof. Ramadan does not have an Egyptian passport, and is a citizen of Switzerland only.
The unsourced claim in media reports that Prof. Ramadan is “not welcome” in Qatar, which is false.
The fake news that “Christelle” pinpointed a scar located on Prof. Ramadan’s groin area, which he allegedly confirmed having, never in fact took place.
The impression that the prosecution has mountains of evidence, including messages exchanged between Prof. Ramadan and his accusers: in reality, the evidence provided by the defense revealed that it was Ayari who messaged Prof. Ramadan hundreds of times a full two years after the alleged rape took place, and with the recent admission of her intent to seduce and entrap him. “Christelle”, on the other hand, claims to have lost her cell phone and, conveniently, has no access to any of the original alleged messages exchanged in 2009.
Under ordinary circumstances, such a weak case would almost certainly be thrown out. But, even in the event that the prosecution should wish to continue its investigation, the manner in which Prof. Ramadan is forced to remain behind bars despite his clear cooperation with investigators; the mismanagement of solid exculpatory evidence; and the overt collusion between media outlets propagating the prosecution’s false narrative, strongly indicate that in Prof. Ramadan’s case, due process, not to mention the presumption of innocence, is being denied.
After decades of being vilified, suppressed, and attacked by top-ranking politicians as ‘the Muslim enemy’ of France, it comes as no surprise that authorities would be politically driven to take down a fierce critic of the French government’s unjust and discriminatory policies directed against poor people, Muslims, immigrants, and victims of its colonial rule.
There is clear evidence that anti-Muslim forces, represented by powerful media, political institutions, and islamophobes like Caroline Fourest and Antoine Sfeir—all of whom have viciously campaigned against Prof. Ramadan for years—are directly linked to this latest shameful attempt to destroy him. Prof. Ramadan has been a voice for millions of disenfranchised peoples, including but not limited to, Muslims, worldwide. Since his life’s work has been to champion the causes of justice, coexistence, and mutual understanding, it seems his adversaries sought to hijack a worthy women’s movement and tarnish the reputation of a renowned scholar for their own dark motives.
As Prof. Ramadan remains unjustly incarcerated on false charges, we urge human and civil rights groups around the world to condemn the politically motivated case against him, and demand his immediate release from detention and right to due process.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION CALLING FOR TARIQ RAMADAN'S IMMEDIATE RELEASE AND HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.
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Free Tariq Ramadan Campaign
|Tariq Ramadan (Wikipedia)|
|Born||August 26, 1962
|Alma mater||University of Geneva (PhD)|
|Institutions||Collège de Saussure
University of Fribourg
St Antony's College, Oxford
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