#MeToo: French Author Accuses Prominent Religious Scholar Of Rape

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Author Henda Ayari, who champions Muslim women's rights in France, has accused prominent religious scholar Tariq Ramadan of sexual assault.

The powerful #MeToo campaign on social media has empowered scores of women across the world to come forward and share their own stories of sexual assault and harassment. Doing so is not always easy, but the overwhelming number of people detailing their tragic experiences is playing a huge part in exposing the magnitude of the problem.

Apparently inspired by the movement, an anti-extremism activist and author in France recently filed a sexual assault complaint against prominent Swiss Muslim scholar and Oxford University professor Tariq Ramadan. The lawsuit, filed with the Rouen prosecutor’s office in northwest France by Henda Ayari, detailed criminal acts of rape, sexual violence, harassment and intimidation.

Ayari took to her Facebook page to share her story. The incident allegedly occurred in 2012 and though Ayari had mentioned it in her book, she only now named Ramadan, 55, as the man who allegedly attacked her after inviting her to his hotel room following a religious conference in Paris.

“I have been silent for several years for fear that he might take vengeance,” she said, explaining he had threatened to “take it to my children. I was afraid and I kept silent all this time.”

“I decided to file a complaint against Tariq Ramadan for what he did to me,” the activist said on Facebook.

Ayari said Ramadan continued to try to contact her and meet with her following the assault.

Her accusations come shortly after dozens of women went public with allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment against Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein.

In 2016, the divorced mother-of-three, who champions Muslim women's rights in France, detailed the accounts of sexual assault in her book, “I Chose to be Free,” where she labeled the offending character as “Zubair.”

“I confirm today, that the famous Zubair is Tariq Ramadan,” Ayari declared on social media. Her lawyer Jonas Haddad said she did not report the assault earlier out of fear.

Tariq Ramadan is not only the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hasan al-Banna), he's also one of the most well-known Islamist intellectuals in the world. He was once listed among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

He is currently a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

A spokesperson for the Oxford University said: “We are aware of these reports and are taking them extremely seriously. We are not in a position to comment further at this time.”

Meanwhile, Ramadan has denied the allegations and claimed he’ll lodge a complaint for “slander and defamation” with the public prosecutor in Rouen.

Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Adnan Abidi/Files

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