Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan Has Been Cleared of All Charges in the Swiss Rape Trial
Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan was acquitted by a Swiss court on Wednesday of charges of rape and sexual coercion, as no evidence was found against the former professor from Oxford University. Additionally, he was awarded approximately 151,000 Swiss francs ($167,000) in compensation from the Swiss canton of Geneva regarding the case. Upon hearing the verdict in the Geneva Criminal Court, the 60-year-old Swiss preacher smiled and received a hug from one of his daughters.
Meanwhile, the 57-year-old accuser of Ramadan, who was identified by the pseudonym “Brigitte,” left the courtroom before the verdict’s conclusion. Her legal representatives promptly declared their intention to appeal the decision. Prosecutors had previously sought a three-year sentence for Ramadan. Although this trial marked the first time he faced trial for rape, he still faces the possibility of standing trial in France on similar charges.
The Swiss trial presented two completely contrasting narratives of the events that transpired in a Geneva hotel room in October 2008. Brigitte’s lawyer, a convert to Islam, asserted that she had been subjected to repeated rape and “torture and barbarism.” In contrast, Ramadan, a charismatic and controversial figure in European Islam, vehemently denied the accusations, maintaining that no sexual activity occurred between him and Brigitte. He claimed to be the victim of a deliberate “trap.”
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Brigitte was in her forties when the alleged assault took place in 2008. However, she did not file a complaint until ten years later, citing her newfound courage to come forward due to similar complaints filed in France. Both parties agreed that Ramadan and Brigitte spent the night together in the hotel room, with Brigitte leaving early the following morning. Ramadan insisted that Brigitte had invited herself to his room, engaged in a brief kiss, and promptly ended the encounter.
According to the indictment, Ramadan was accused of sexual coercion and committing rape three times throughout the night. During the trial, the defense adamantly maintained Ramadan’s innocence and emphasized the lack of scientific evidence in the case. His legal team further accused Brigitte and the women who had lodged charges against him in France of orchestrating a conspiracy to undermine the Islamic scholar, citing “Ramadanphobia.”
In his final statements during the court proceedings last week, Ramadan implored not to be judged based on his “actual or perceived ideology” and urged the judges to disregard any influence from the media and political clamor. “Forget I’m Tariq Ramadan!” he appealed.
Ramadan, considered controversial by secularists who view him as a proponent of political Islam, obtained a doctorate from the University of Geneva with a thesis focused on his grandfather, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement. He served as a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford until November 2017 and held visiting positions at universities in Qatar and Morocco. Amid rape allegations that arose in France during the height of the “Me Too” movement, relating to suspected assaults occurring between 2009 and 2016, Ramadan was compelled to take a leave of absence.