By Alain Gabon
Following rape accusations, Tariq Ramadan, Europe’s most influential Islamic intellectual, has now been incarcerated in France for over four months since February 2, despite the presumption of innocence. He has furthermore been placed in solitary confinement and to this day has been denied access to his own judicial file (and private mail, outside communications, etc.), obviously rendering his legal defense complicated, which one might think is precisely the whole point. For more background information on this affair, see here.
Besides the systematic vilification he continues to suffer in the mainstream media without being able to talk back and defend himself against this veritable lynching, his legal treatment by France’s justice system has literally been harsher than that of a convicted rapist or even murderer. For example, his own close relatives including his wife and children were denied visitation rights for nearly two months for no reason whatsoever, which is all the more unjust in the case of a person who, by French law, is supposed to be presumed innocent.
Even more shockingly, though in jail for already four months, it was only on June 5 that his judges accepted to listen to him for the very first time, after they denied his prior requests to be auditioned.
To our knowledge, no other high-profile personality accused of rape during that same time frame, including most notably President Macron's two ministers Gérard Darmanin and Nicolas Hulot, has been placed in preventive detention while innocent until proven guilty. Ramadan remains the only one. This strongly suggests that the rape accusations were just a pretext to silence and eliminate him, as France’s media and politicians had been trying to do for a good fifteen years already, without success. The obvious double standard, easily visible in every aspect and at every stage of this affair, therefore suggests that Tariq Ramadan is indeed a political prisoner. If not, then why has he been singled out from day one and subjected to such an exceptional treatment well outside French judicial norms?
Medically and mentally, Ramadan is not doing well at all. The rare few persons who have been authorized to visit him (his close relatives, lawyers and the Swiss consul) all testified that his health and physical appearance have rapidly, steadily and dramatically deteriorated. His lawyer, whose access to his own client is also restricted, expressed shock at the fact that “he now looks like his own father”. The multiple sclerosis and neuropathy he suffers from require, among other treatments, four massage therapy sessions a week. He is receiving only one. Only a neurologist can treat his neuropathy, yet, as of June 10, he has not seen any for three months.
Despite his double illness, Ramadan was strong and healthy when he entered jail, to the point very few knew about or suspected he had for years been afflicted by long-term diseases. But he can now barely walk, he must use a wheelchair or clutches to come to the parlor, and he is in quasi constant pain (lower limbs, head, hands, severe migraines and more including depression and episodes of anxiety attacks). He has visible physical lesions on his body, his hair is now entirely white, and he has become incontinent. For the first time in his life, he was too weak to do the Ramadan this year. His family is now worried he may suffer durably debilitating physical damage. Again, some may think this is also the goal intended: Ramadan had been such a thorn in the thighs of all French Powers that Be for so long that most wanted with a real vengeance this “indomitable Muslim” to be eliminated from the public arena any way possible. Besides, mocking and laughing at his medical hardship on the social media, or for journalists like Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, bluntly retorting “You won’t make us feel sorry for Tariq Ramadan” (after he himself solicited information on his health from his lawyer!) has become routine.
Despite this, and in deliberate ignorance of no fewer than 9 different medical certificates (including at least one from the chief physician of a prison hospital) that assessed his health condition was not compatible with jail, the courts decided to follow the one medical examiner (whom they themselves had chosen) who had concluded his health was “not incompatible with incarceration provided he receives all the medical treatment he needs” (which he clearly isn’t anyway).
The fact that he has spent most of these four months in various prison hospitals dying a slow death (he is now back again at the Fresnes prison medical unit) shows how his medical condition is “compatible” indeed with prolonged incarceration.
Due to his rapidly deteriorating physical condition, his lawyer recently asked for another medical examination. Even that was denied by the judges.
A Kafkaian Justice System
Ramadan’s numerous requests for liberation, assorted with concrete alternative offers including electronic bracelet, surrendering his passport, and even being placed in a communal house under house arrest and police surveillance, have also all been denied. The justifications provided by the judges from the appeal courts are frankly ridiculous and even absurd. To keep him jailed and in solitary confinement, they invoke three reasons: that if liberated, he might try to “escape to another country”, that he may “exert pressure to intimidate his accusers”, and that he may “commit new rapes”.
The fear he may seek to escape is ludicrous on at least three counts: first, he has himself offered to surrender his passport and be placed under police surveillance; second, fleeing would not only make him a fugitive and an outlaw (which so far he is not) but it would also constitute an admission of guilt and annihilate his chances to be acquitted; third, his cooperation with France’s justice system has always been absolute, something no one denies. “Exerting pressure on his presumed victims” would also be suicidal and could only aggravate his already awful situation including his judicial status. Besides, what “pressure” could he exert, with no allies and only enemies everywhere hell-bent on keeping him jailed for life and exploiting his slightest faux pas?
But the third reason (that he may “reiterate crimes of rape”) is both the most shocking, the most grotesque, and the most revealing of the partial mindset of judges who from the start have been utterly devoid of objectivity and basic judicial fairness: claiming that Ramadan must stay behind bars in order to “avoid further rapes” is a legal oxymoron that shows his judges have already declared him guilty before the trial and even before the investigations are over. Besides, provided they are even sincere, what suicidal madman would, in Ramadan’s situation, try rape “again” while being placed under house arrest, in full media limelight and with police surveillance on his back 24/7? If those judges truly believe such imbecilities (there is no other word), then it shows that for them, Ramadan is not a normal human being capable of reason or basic instinct of self-preservation, but an out-of-control animal solely animated by a bestial drive to “rape” no matter what. Which corresponds to how his accusers and the media have portrayed him for months: as at best, a sex monster and a brute devoid of any humanity (“the more I was yelling, the more he was beating me up”, said one), a frightening character straight from some serial killer horror movie.
Yet, his three judges continue to invoke those laughable reasons with a straight face, in obvious disingenuity and bad faith.
A turning point? No third indictment
On June 5, in what may a turning point in the affair and the first positive (for Ramadan) development since his incarceration, the case of his third accuser (“Marie”, real name Mounia Rabbouj, a former escort-girl rendered famous by the DSK sex scandal) was dropped by the judges, when, with his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny, Ramadan was finally auditioned for 6 hours and could for the first time make his own case at length and produce massive counter-evidence totaling 300 videos and 1000 photos. On one smartphone video, the woman filmed herself comfortably seated in a train, talking lovingly to Ramadan, looking perfectly relaxed and happy, saying she is anxious to see him again soon. She ends her message with a touching and heartfelt “I love you very much, my love”. This was the day after one of her nine alleged “traumatizing” rapes, which, between two sobs, she described to the media and judges as horrifically violent, a true torture and beating up session that left her durably terrified, adding “that night, I thought I was going to die” (watch her video interview here).
Considering the overwhelming exculpatory evidence Ramadan was finally able to present on June 5, the judges declined to prosecute him, though Mounia’s embittered lawyer claims he may still be formally charged later on, which at this point sounds like wishful thinking.
As for the one U.S. case against the Swiss theologian, the investigation apparently continues yet Ramadan has to this day not been charged, and there has been no information whatsoever about that case for months from the American authorities. After getting excited there was at least one accusation against him outside France and Switzerland, most French media are no longer referring to that affair either.
But there is a lot more. Like the case of that third presumed victim (“Marie”/Mounia Rabbouj), which at least for the moment has been dropped by the judges, the accusations of the first two women as well as their credibility have also at this point completely collapsed, to the point it is frankly surprising that the French courts are insisting on keeping Ramadan incarcerated, especially given the presumption of innocence that was supposed to apply to him too, but never did.
Henda Ayari (First Plaintiff)
Despite her ubiquitous media presence and red carpet VIP treatment by France’s talking heads, journalists and show hosts (as well as several prominent right-wing politicians who received her), Henda Ayari (the first and most famous accuser) has to this day been incapable of producing a single piece of evidence in 8 months, even a tiny one, to back her accusation. Incidentally, the same is true of the anti-Ramadan media, which suggests they truly have nothing to show against him. If they had any evidence, they would be all too happy to make headlines out of it, considering the heinous rage they have invested for years in vilifying and bringing him down by any means possible.
Ayari initially claimed she could prove her truthfulness. Yet, 8 months later, her computers, cell phones, etc. have all been searched by the police, the technical expertise is over and has produced no evidence whatsoever. In sharp contrast, Ramadan's lawyer did manage to show that her claims were at best false, for example when she said she had stopped all communication with Ramadan in mid-2013, yet nearly 300 emails from her to Ramadan where excavated, dated June-August 2014, in which furthermore she herself was asking Ramadan to see her, meet her, and not cut her off from his contacts. This, after her alleged rape, and after she claimed abundantly on all media she was "terrified" by Ramadan to the point that "even pronouncing his name was difficult". The evidence from her own electronic devices strongly suggests that she, too, like “Marie”-Mounia Rabbouj, was just lying and was most likely the one harassing Ramadan with no success. One of her texts (again, from after her alleged rape) reads: “I know you will never be in love in me, but next week, you will be between my thighs.”
She too abundantly, repeatedly and graphically described her rape as horrific, bestial, ultra-violent, sadistic, terrifying, and deeply traumatizing, saying “I thought I was gonna die” (a recurrent leitmotif that the other three women simply seem to have copied from that first accusation along with others, especially “falling under his mental grip”, his emprise mentale). And yet, Ayari admits that she was the one who wanted to meet Ramadan again after that “traumatizing and terrifying rape” she describes as a “nightmare”, that she did everything she could for that, and that she even continued an “epistolary sexual relationship” with him (here at mns 4-6 of her latest tv appearance in a high-profile popular entertainment show).
None of the hundreds of text, Facebook and email messages produced by Ramadan’s lawyer and sent by Ayari herself after her alleged rape mention anything close to a rape or other acts of violence. Far from it, since many show her literally begging Ramadan not to “cut her off”, not to deprive her of access to him, asking him repeatedly to let her in (from her own communication, he himself was clearly not interested). At the very least, this is not typical of a woman who was recently raped and is “terrified” of the man. Especially when she also claims Ramadan threatened to kill her and her children! (here at mn 7).
It is also noteworthy—or at least it should have been for the judges—that besides the complete absence of material and concrete evidence of any type not to mention the accumulating counter-evidence, Ayari could not produce a single witness either to back her claims. Not even a relative or a close friend who could have testified she was bruised (she claims Ramadan strangled and beat her up too) or affected psychologically, emotionally, etc. But again, the witnesses against her are plenty, and they include both her parents, her older son, her former sister-in-law and others, who have formally testified already or agreed to testify in court that woman is a complete “mythomaniac” pathological liar who has for years been known as such by her family and close entourage (whom she abundantly trashes in her first book).
Ayari is now famous for her systematic contradictions and dramatic story changes. The latest? Faced with evidence her previous story was simply not possible, she just casually changed both the date and the place of her alleged rape so it fits. One can imagine how one could make a mistake about the date, but not remembering where one has been raped is a harder sell. Even better, the new date, which she claims she rectified “after searching around the house for a day” and finding “a little notebook” where she had written the day of her meeting with Ramadan, also proved to be impossible! In her modified version, the rape happened on May 26, 2012 (as opposed to “sometime between March and April” in her prior version). She said she now remembers clearly because that day, “it was pouring rain in Paris” and when she arrived from Rouen, the rain messed up her hairstyle and she even had to change clothes. Bad luck: Ramadan’s lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny verified the Paris weather that day from Météo-France (the national official weather institution), which confirmed to him that not a single drop of rain fell anywhere in Paris during that entire day and night.
Ayari has not explained that latest mishap nor has she been asked any question about that by the deeply empathic media, but there’s no doubt she will find another “little notebook” somewhere to adjust again her story, in the unlikely case a judge asks her about that latest impossibility of her new rape narrative.
Finally, people who were expected to testify on her behalf have actually further contradicted and invalidated her story. For example, Ayari said that right after her “traumatizing and terrifying rape”, she went to see her close friend “Malica A.” for some comfort. Yet, auditioned by the judges, Malica A. declared that Ayari was then “in her normal state, looking happy and thriving, she never mentioned any rape or incident, and she had no suspicious traces on her face or anywhere else” (though she was supposed to have just been beaten up savagely too).
More surprisingly, none of this damning and accumulating counter-evidence seems to bother or interest Ramadan’s judges in any way and even less affect their determination to keep him jailed for no serious and credible reason.
Fully capitalizing on her newfound fame and status as a minor icon among white Western supremacists and other raging Islamophobes (she recently received the support of Robert Spencer, a key figure of the U.S. Islamophobia Industry, which did not bother her a bit), Ayari is not even trying anymore to offer evidence of her accusations (clearly, she has none) or explain her ceaseless contradictions, radical story changes, and extravagant claims (e.g. each time she says she is about to produce hard evidence, that material somehow mysteriously disappears without a trace, “gets stolen from her car”, etc.).
A media seeker who long before finally grabbing the limelight thanks to her accusation was already posturing (without success) in interviews and sensationalist tabloids like Closer as an “ex-Salafist who liberated herself from Islamism to become a free, modern woman,”Ayari is now busy promoting her new book (opportunistically titled “I won’t be veiled, I won’t be raped” and advertised as “Written by the first woman who accused Tariq Ramadan of rape”), while hyping herself every possible way as a “survivor of Salafism” and a role model of “feminist, laicist, anti-Islamist emancipation”. Between two tearful media appearances, she regularly vilifies other Muslim women (the “wrong” type, the veiled ones, Salafists etc.) on her Facebook page and tweeter account (whose followers are quasi exclusively white French Islamophobes of various political stripes), gratuitously accusing other Muslims of being dangerous "Islamists", demanding France ban all Salafists and close their mosques, and so on. She obviously seeks to attract the attention and favors of France's Powers that Be and Zionist circles with the usual "laicist-anti-Islamist" dominant and pseudo-patriotic discourse on the “values of the French Republic”,a discourse that in France is guaranteed to fare well especially when it comes from a Muslim or former Muslim Arab.
Ayari has now fully cast herself as a pale French version of an Ayan Hirsi Ali, though unlike Ali she says she is still a Muslim. In today’s French culture, Ayari is one of the “right” kind of Muslim women the French state and dominant media instrumentalize (with their full consent) to try delegitimize, control, “reform”, exclude or break other Muslims—the “wrong” kind, from veiled women to Salafists, from “Islamists” to organic Islamic intellectuals they cannot control, like Ramadan himself. Ayari’s daily, repetitive tweeter/Facebook production is choke-full of the usual groupthink, scare and anti-Muslim defamation such as "Islamism is the new Fascism and Nazism" or the classic "Antizionism equals antisemitism". In some posts, she openly accuses pro-Palestinian activists of being essentially a bunch of anti-Semites too, all things for which she is generously rewarded (including financially), for example when the Zionist philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy promises her, live on tv, a fat check for her “feminist association” right after the show (here at mn 9). (Ayari, who has apparently never had a job or steady income, regularly complaints about her difficult financial circumstances and solicits money from her Facebook followers for both herself personally and her “association”).
“Christelle” / Paule-Emma A. (Second Plaintiff)
Besides the fact her alleged evidence too proved to be lacking or was invalidated by the technical expertise, leaving her, like Ayari, with absolutely nothing to back her accusation and no witnesses either not even one, the credibility of this second alleged victim has fallen apart even more spectacularly than that of Henda Ayari and Mounia Rabbouj. “Christelle” had early on admitted in front of the judges that she had forged false email accounts in Ramadan’s name to disseminate fake messages in his name and discredit his reputation. This already gave an idea of her trustworthiness and character. But a lot worse has come out since.
Following a long and meticulous 6-month investigation, the Muslim Post revealed in April that “Christelle”, real name Paule-Emma A., who presented herself as a pious Muslim convert and explained in all media she was brutally raped and beaten up while “seeking religious advice from Tariq Ramadan”, was in fact, a White Western supremacist and a right-wing National Front activist for Marine le Pen! (Those revelations, never denied by the plaintiff or her lawyers, are now fully corroborated by the judges themselves, who after the publication of the Muslim Post’s investigative piece started using her real name too).
After running for elections on the list of another right-wing, anti-immigration, traditionalist/sovereignist party, "Christelle"/Paule-Emma A. founded the web site "Femmes Françaises Magazine" (“French Women Magazine”, formerly “Women for Marine le Pen”). Behind its misleading title and glamor pics, Femmes Françaises is a trash site of the worst type, an Islamophobic and racist blog entirely dedicated to presenting all Muslims as terrorists and Islam as a threat and a religion of hatred. Remember: the woman who founded this introduced herself to the media as a Muslim converted to Islam since 2007. Ethnic minorities, dual French-Arab and African citizens, immigrants and refugees are systematically portrayed as criminals, rapists, welfare suckers (at best), and dangers to a French nation and citizenry itself presented as eternally white and Christian yet threatened by “Islamization” and by weak, cowardly and treacherous “multiculturalist” elites who don’t have the guts to protect their country against those hordes of barbaric brown-skin Muslim invaders. In other words, the crudest and most vulgar type of racist and Islamophobic White Western Supremacism. Paule-Emma A. literally makes Trump (that of the Muslim bans and Mexicans as rapists) look like a dedicated antiracist activist.
Ironically, whereas Paule-Emma impersonated a Muslim convert in search of religious guidance from Tariq Ramadan and fooled all the complicit media in her imposture, one of the bêtes noires of “Femmes Françaises Magazine” is none other than Ramadan himself and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Here, from her web site, American tourists aggressed and robbed by “Algerian scum”. Here, “400 Jihadists” backed from Iraq are “waiting orders to attack England”. Here, more brave French people “raped and killed by the savage horde” (black people, evidently), who are also torturing babies. (One notices much of these are reposts of other better-known White Christian supremacist and Trumpist blogs like Dreuz Info). Here, a piece on a Nigerian Muslim man (“Mohammed”), his “86 wives and 170 children”. Here, videos and photos of “Arab collective rape games”. And (my personal favorite), “the Saudi sheikh killed by the donkey he was trying to sodomize”.
Everything is of the same ilk or worse. And the creative mind behind all this is none other than the so-far anonymous “Christelle”, Ramadan’s second accuser, paraded and religiously listened to by all media, who took her every word at face value without bothering to conduct even a basic background check as any journalist worthy of that name would have done, especially when the accused is France’s Islamic Public Enemy Number One.
In subsequent pieces, all meticulously backed by hard evidence straight from the police investigations and Paule-Emma’s own legal file, the Muslim Post also revealed that for years, Paule-Emma A. had been communicating and plotting with others including Caroline Fourest (Ramadan's sworn enemy since the early 2000s) in order to, in her own words, "end Ramadan's political career (?) our own special way". She also at some point, in a phone conversation, confessed to a close friend that she was “fed up” with being "harassed by journalists, publishers, the French secret services and politicians”, who were apparently blackmailing her to push her to accuse Ramadan of rape. During that period, most likely as part of that harassment, she went through no fewer than four fiscal investigations from the French tax services, which for an ordinary person is truly exceptional. (Excerpts from those conversations here).
Following those revelations, Ramadan’s lawyer requested that an investigation be conducted into all this including witness tampering. That request, like all the others, was denied, though it should have been automatic, even routine, given the hard evidence, which was furthermore coming from the plaintiff’s own electronic devices and the police investigations.
And just like with Ayari, the police findings have so far systematically contradicted and invalidated Paule-Emma’s claims. The list is too long but for example, the hotel room she described where she was supposedly raped corresponds in no way to the actual hotel room at that time (despite the fact she said she stayed the whole night there after her rape—alone after Ramadan left for his 9 p.m. conference—and in her admission only left in the morning, after breakfast, meaning she spent a good 10 hours in that room). The hotel records contradict other details she gave (for example that there were people in the rooms next to hers, while in reality they were all empty and without guests). None of the witnesses she said had seen her, bruised, in tears and traumatized right after her rape (hotel clerks, bus driver, etc.), remember anything of the sort though the police managed to find and interrogate all of them. And so on and so forth.
It is now clear that not only the files of the first and second women (Henda Ayari and “Christelle”/Paule-Emma A., the false Muslim convert) are completely empty of any corroborating evidence or witnesses, but everything suggests they have been lying to their teeth. The two of them were furthermore in prolonged and sustained contact together and with Ramadan’s arch-enemy Caroline Fourest, something they also both tried conceal from the judges, before “remembering”, but only when presented by evidence from Ramadan’s lawyer.
At any rate, their accusations as well as well as their credibility have totally crumbled in the past few months. The exculpatory evidence in both cases is already overwhelming. Meanwhile, as explained above, the judges have recognized on June 5 that the third plaintiff (“Marie”/Mounia Rabbouj, the former escort girl of DSK and various Gulf emirs) had no case so far, and they declined charging Ramadan in that third affair. The file of the fourth and last European plaintiff (a Swiss woman) is as far as we can tell at this point as empty of any proof as that of the other three. Finally, Ramadan has not even been charged by the U.S. authorities in the case of the one American plaintiff.
In the light of this mountain of exculpatory evidence that is truly damning but only for the plaintiffs, it is simply astonishing that the French judges, any judges for that matter, would insist on keeping Ramadan jailed and in solitary confinement, furthermore in poor and declining health, especially when alternatives have been offered by his lawyers and the man is supposed to be presumed innocent anyway.
Yet, the French courts have recently signified to Ramadan, his family and his lawyer that they will need another 16 months for the investigation. The judges are clearly planning to keep him jailed all this time until his trial (meaning for almost two years), probably hoping that new, more credible accusers will come out, now that the three French cases have all but collapsed. Interestingly, they are not even arguing that if they want to keep him in prison, it is because the material they have on file suggests he might actually be guilty. This would be a far more convincing justification than the three laughable excuses they invoke, yet it is a justification they have never used.
Which suggests further that those files are indeed empty and that Ramadan should in all fairness be liberated until his trial so he can properly work on his defense, receive the medical care he badly needs, and be granted the presumption of innocence that has been granted to all other public figures accused of rape in these past several months.
Alain Gabon is a French citizen and Associate Professor of French Studies based in the United States. He is the head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Virginia Wesleyan University and has written numerous papers and articles on contemporary France and Islam in Europe for academic journals and think tanks, including Britain's Cordoba Foundation and mainstream media outlets, such as Saphirnews and Les cahiers de l'Islam.
Some information in this article was first shared on the Sociology of Islam listserv.