Oxford University professor rape

Former Oxford University professor on trial accused of multiple counts of rape

Tariq Ramadan took a leave of absence from Oxford in 2017 following the emergence of multiple rape allegations

A former University of Oxford professor has gone on trial in Geneva on three charges of rape and one count of sexual coercion.

Tariq Ramadan, 60, who was a professor of contemporary Islamic studies for 12 years at Oxford, denied allegations he carried out the attack on a Swiss woman in a Geneva hotel in 2008.

The distinguished professor began working at Oxford in 2005 before taking a leave of absence in 2017 when separate rape allegations were made against him by a series of French women. On the first day of his trial yesterday, he confirmed he was currently receiving a monthly payment from the university.

The Swiss complainant appeared in court yesterday separated by a screen from Mr Ramadan. She wore a wig and asked to be known under the name “Brigitte” during the trial because of abuse she has faced.

Brigitte converted to Islam growing up and was 40 at the time of the alleged attack. She said she met the academic at a book signing in Geneva and later at a conference.

Having chatted over social media, she met Tariq Ramadan again a few months later after he invited her to the hotel he was staying in for coffee on the 28th October 2008.

They then went to Tariq Ramadan’s room where the prosecutors say he raped her three times and committed one count of sexual coercion.

Mr Ramadan is accused of almost suffocating her as well as beating her and making verbal insults. He faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

He told the Swiss court yesterday: “I have never raped anyone on the surface of the Earth.

“I am not a predator. The plaintiff’s objective was my moral downfall, that it be known that I was having extramarital affairs.”

Oxford University professor rape

Tariq Ramadan arriving in court yesterday morning – via Pierre Albouy/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

He also argued he had received dozens of text messages from Brigitte. “In these, she didn’t talk about abuse or violence but said she loved me,” he said.

The academic said he has been suffering from depression and multiple sclerosis and that he was “here to fight”.

He argued Brigitte had arrived at the hotel in a “suggestive outfit” which he implied to mean: “She had something in mind when coming to see me.”

He went on to say: “This is a fabrication. [Brigitte] is not a raped woman. She’s a woman spurned.”

Mr Ramadan was denounced as “a compulsive liar” by Brigitte’s French lawyer, François Zimeray.

He said: “This trial is an ordeal for my client, not therapy. She is waiting for recognition of the suffering that she has lived with for 15 years and which she has made it a painful duty to reveal.

“She expects a difficult, painful confrontation but she is ready for it, convinced that this fight is a duty for her as much as an ordeal.”

Tariq Ramadan was given exceptional authorisation to appear in court this week to attend his trial.

He was arrested in France in 2018 and spent nine months in prison on remand over rape allegations made by four French women. He was subsequently released on probation but was banned from leaving the country. Mr Ramadan also denies these allegations.

Last year, the French state called for him to stand trial in France for the alleged rapes of four French women between 2009 and 2016. It is in the hands of French investigating judges to rule whether these cases go to trial.

The academic has denied all allegations against him, instead claiming rape allegations against him in France and Switzerland are politically motivated. On the first of the three day trial yesterday, he condemned what he believes are “lies and manipulation” against him, asking for his name to be “cleared” in the eyes of his family.

The Swiss trial is being heard by a panel of judges who are expected to return a verdict on 24th May.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. A list of wellbeing services available to Oxford University students can be found here. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) on 0800 58 58 58.

Featured image via Pierre Albouy/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock