Feminist campaigner accuses Oxford professor of rape

Lawyer for Tariq Ramadan says he denies Henda Ayari’s allegation and will sue her for defamation

A feminist campaigner has filed a police complaint alleging she was raped by an Oxford University professor, Tariq Ramadan, whose lawyer said he denied the accusation and would sue for defamation.

Henda Ayari, 40, who heads the women’s organisation Les Libératrices, filed a complaint on Friday with prosecutors in the Rouen, France, alleging rape, sexual violence, harassment and intimidation by Ramadan, who is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford.

Ayari’s lawyer, Jonas Haddad, said she had not previously reported the alleged attack in 2012 out of fear. She named Ramadan on social media on Friday after women began using social networks to talk of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“After revelations over the past few days of rape and sexual assault claims in the media, Henda has decided to say what happened to her and take legal action,” Haddad told Agence France-Presse.

Ayari wrote on Facebook on Friday that she had been the “victim of something very serious several years ago” but had not until now given the alleged assailant’s name because of “threats” by him.

She said she had described the rape in a chapter of her book, I Chose to be Free, published in France in November 2016, giving her attacker a made-up name. In the book, Ayari describes a sex attack by an intellectual in a Paris hotel room after a conference, saying she fought back but was “insulted”, “slapped” and treated violently. On Facebook on Friday, she named Ramadan as her attacker.

Ramadan’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, told the French paper Le Parisien on Saturday that he denied the allegations and would file a complaint of defamation with Rouen prosecutors on Monday morning.

Bouzrou told Le Parisien: “The complainant says she did not name my client in her book in order not to be sued for defamation. When you’re telling the truth, it’s surprising to fear being accused of defamation.”

Swiss-born Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

It now falls to the Rouen prosecutor’s office to decide whether to open an investigation.


Angelique Chrisafis

The GuardianTramp

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