Professor Tariq Ramadan was acquitted of rape charges in his native Switzerland on Wednesday, May 24. In 2017, the Oxford professor was accused of rape by Henda Ayari which led to several other charges in both France and Switzerland. He has always maintained his innocence of the allegations. In addition, during the time Ramadan was imprisoned, his health declined because of inadequate treatment for his Multiple Sclerosis.
The original accuser Ayari was forced to modify aspects of her account when it was shown that she was not in the location she claimed to be when she was allegedly raped. In the latest verdict, the accuser was a Swiss convert to Islam referred to by the pseudonym of Brigette.
According to Al Jazeera, “The academic was also awarded about 151,000 Swiss francs ($167,000) in damages from the Swiss canton of Geneva. After the verdict was read in the court, the 60-year-old Swiss preacher smiled and was hugged by one of his daughters. His 57-year-old Swiss accuser, identified under the assumed name of “Brigitte”, left the courtroom before the end of the verdict. The woman had accused Ramadan of raping her in a Geneva hotel in 2008.”
This was the first time the academic had been formally tried in France or Switzerland for the rape accusations. Ramadan says the accusations were made because of his role as a prominent European Muslim leader and told the court to judge the case on his merits rather than him personally.
Even before the accusations, Ramadan was a famous yet controversial figure for his role as a leading public intellectual in the European Muslim community. He had said that Muslims should embrace their identities as Westerners while criticizing the failures of their nations both at home and abroad. The allegations have impacted his career as he took a leave of absence to contest the claims and formally retired in 2021. Ramadan says the allegations were a trap to discredit him since he was a leading Muslim public figure. The allegations came as part of the wider #MeToo movement.
According to The Guardian, the plaintiff’s lawyer said “She told the truth,” Robert Assael, one of Brigitte’s lawyers, had told the court during the three-day hearing, adding: “Could such a story be invented with so many details?”
She does intend to appeal. The alleged attack took place in 2008 in France. Ramadan also held visiting roles in Qatar and Morocco in addition to his previous post at Oxford.