PARIS: Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has been charged with rape and remanded in custody, a judicial source said on Saturday, following claims by two women that he assaulted them in French hotel rooms.
Ramadan, who was arrested by French police on Wednesday, was charged on Friday with rape and rape of a vulnerable person, the source said. He has denied the charges.
The accused is a Swiss citizen whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
After two days of questioning by investigators, the 55-year-old Oxford University professor was brought before three magistrates who have been assigned to the case, suggesting that he is facing an extensive investigation, judicial sources said. He was remanded in custody pending a bail hearing, to be held within four days.
“If there are other victims in France or elsewhere, they now know that the justice system will respond to what has happened to them,” said Jonas Haddad, lawyer for feminist activist Henda Ayari, the first woman to accuse Ramadan.
Women who have testified anonymously during three months of preliminary investigations might now also file rape complaints, one of the sources said.
The claims against the prominent scholar, which emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the United States, have divided many Muslims, with his legions of fans, as well as his lawyers, saying he is the victim of a smear campaign.
But critics have long suggested that despite Ramadan’s moderate tone as a familiar face on television programmes, he preaches a more radical line when addressing Muslims in Arabic.
Ramadan is the most high-profile figure to be held in France over the sexual assault and harassment claims that have rippled around the world as a result of the “Me Too” campaign.