Tariq Ramadan, who is facing rape charges in France, has been in the custody of French authorities since early February. On July 15, 2018, Ramadan's daughter, Maryam, sat down with RT France to answer questions about her father’s case. She hopes to draw attention to the unfair conditions endured by her father in prison.
Maryam Ramadan met us in a park, in one of Paris’ southern suburbs. Along with her mother, Maryam resides in Doha, Qatar. Since her father was imprisoned in Paris, however, she and her mother have put their lives on hold and moved to Paris to be close to him.
Having been held in pretrial detention since the beginning of February, the Swiss intellectual of Egyptian origin is currently imprisoned in Fresnes prison, Paris. He suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition he has had for twelve years, but which was diagnosed four years ago. Ramadan spent several days in the intensive care unit at the Salpêtrière hospital as a result of negligence and lack of treatment for his MS. Maryam, his eldest daughter, aged 31, agreed to talk to RT France and shed light on an alarming report about her father's conditions of incarceration.
RT France: Do you regularly visit your father? What is his condition now?
Maryam Ramadan: He is very weak. It's very hard for him. He just left the Salpetriere hospital where he spent three weeks in a room without a view to the outside. He could only leave that room for a few minutes. His disease, multiple sclerosis, requires that he walks and exercises regularly, but he was not allowed to do so. He has unbearable pain in his legs and arms, extremely violent cramps, and permanent migraines.
He only sleeps for around two hours a night because the pain continues to wake him up. He is being subjected to very harsh treatment, which is leading to many terrible consequences on his health. He lost 11 kilos, and told us he could not concentrate for more than 20 minutes continuously. We are also noticing symptoms of memory loss. At Fresnes prison, he is allowed to walk for only 30 minutes a day, in a very small empty courtyard. He cannot walk normally, and is only able to move with a walker. These new symptoms, which appeared in prison, are probably irreversible, according to the doctors.
When he entered prison, he was able to walk and write normally. Today, not only is he unable to walk without a walker, he cannot even write anymore. His condition has worsened substantially as a result of his detention.
RT France: Did you consider other options?
Maryam Ramadan: A lot. Despite several alarming medical reports, the judges believe that his health is compatible with detention. Yet, they must know that his illness was diagnosed four years ago, and that it was contained thanks to regular and rigorous medical monitoring. He had some pain, but it did not prevent him from having a normal life. We asked for a new medical expert opinion on his condition, but that request was rejected by the judges. Even though his condition continues to get worse, which the latest report from the neurologist at Salpêtrière hospital confirms, my father remains detained. We are ask ourselves a lot of questions about the treatment he is receiving. This nightmare is even more difficult for us since we are witnessing the deterioration of his health day by day.
RT France: What are the judges’ arguments to keep him in pre-trial detention?
Maryam Ramadan: On the one hand, they say they fear that pressure might be exercised on the alleged victims, and on the other hand, there is the risk that my father might flee to another country. None of these two arguments hold water. Between the filing of the complaint in October and his detention in February, he did not put any pressure on these women. Why would he do it now? He is not stupid.
These women say that they have received threats from "Tariq Ramadan's supporters." Even if that is true, we condemn it. But, so far, they have not provided any evidence to support what they are saying.
As for fleeing to another country, it's ridiculous. Where would he go? My father is a public figure and it would be an admission of guilt on his part to flee. We offered all the guarantees that he would remain on French territory, including an offer to hand in his passport, to wear an electronic bracelet, and even to pay a deposit. But the judges refused everything. It's incomprehensible.
RT France: Where does the case stand now?
Maryam Ramadan: We do not know when all this will end. At the moment, we do not even know if there will be a trial at all. I recall that he presented himself to justice on January 31, trusting it completely. He refused to speak about it publicly out of respect for the procedure, unlike the complainants who have been seen on all TV shows and who are very active on social media.
RT France: What do you say about their statements?
Maryam Ramadan: There is more and more evidence that these women are lying, and journalists (like judges) are not taking into account the many exculpatory elements at all. They put forward a lot of contradictory information—stories that do not make sense. During the procedure, Henda Ayari changed the date and place of the alleged rape. She sent my father over 300 messages after the date in which she claimed she was raped, while at the same time claiming she was too traumatized to communicate with him.
The other complainant, Christelle, confessed to creating fake Facebook accounts in Tariq Ramadan’s name. She also confirmed that the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, had promised to pay for the best lawyers in order to file a complaint against Tariq Ramadan. But all this information did not interest journalists nor made them ask questions. It is not normal!
As for the third complaint, on June 5, the judges decided not to indict him for this case, so the rape charges were implausible. In addition, these women have alleged that they do not know each other, but it is now clear that they knew each other since 2009 and that they were linked to public figures hostile to my father, like Caroline Fourest and the paparazzi Jean-Claude Elfassi.
RT France: Who is allowed to visit him beside you?
Maryam Ramadan: My mother, my three brothers and sister, my two uncles, Aymen and Bilal, and his lawyers. We can visit him three times a week, but not more than three people at a time. Moreover, he is in total isolation, has no contact with other prisoners, and it is not his choice, contrary to what has been said. Now he has French television in his cell, it's his only window to the outside world. He receives a very small part of the innumerable letters sent to him. They all go through the judges who read them and transfer them to the prison. Besides, the prison director had to admit that they had lost many of the letters.
RT France: The support committee is organizing rallies on July 17 in front of the French embassies around the world. What is the purpose of this action?
Maryam Ramadan: We hope to make the French authorities aware of my father’s situation. In addition, on July 18 and 19, a court confrontation session will take place with one or more complainants. We do not know exactly who, but we are pinning a lot of hope on these dates because part of the reason judges refused to release him was because such confrontations had not taken place. But now they will.
We are impatient because after that, the judges will have no other excuse not to release him. He must go out for treatment, and have access to his file in order to prepare his defense under decent conditions.
RT France: After he was heard by the judges on June 5, the media reported that Tariq Ramadan had made a confession about extramarital affairs. This has created a number of defections among his Muslim supporters.
Maryam Ramadan: First, my father told us that what was reported in the media was not exactly what he said in front of the judges. Then, contrary to what was said in the media, he did not change his line of defense. It was the first time he had been heard, so it was the first time he could speak in front of the judges. Now, I understand that there may be disappointment, but I encourage people to be discerning and not to confuse the moral aspect with the judicial aspect. There are things that are about privacy and only concern him and God, his wife, and his family. Then there is the very serious charge of crimes he did not commit.
RT France: Does he still have a lot of support?
Maryam Ramadan: He has more and more, Muslims and non-Muslims, and everywhere in the world. Every day we have new people who are joining us, many of whom tell us they do not particularly appreciate Tariq Ramadan and that they do not necessarily share all his ideas, but are shocked by the treatment he has been subject to from the French justice system has not granted him the presumption of innocence.
( Source: Change.org )
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