On February 2 Tariq Ramadan was held in precautionary detention after being accused of rape by two women. Since then he has been kept in solitary confinement, and been denied family visits or adequate medical treatment. A few weeks prior to going to court, the professor made a video in which he addresses the legal case against him.
Good morning, peace be upon you,
As you may know, over the last month, I’ve been subjected to a media campaign – one could even say media lynching, in France with collateral damage in Belgium and French-speaking Switzerland.
I am being accused of having committed the worst of acts.
I am actually being accused of crimes, since we are talking about rape here.
So, to begin with, I want to say that I am totally innocent of all these crimes, but also that I won’t engage in this media escalation and won’t respond to mob justice currently being led by media outlets.
Such matters should not be discussed on media platforms; they should be discussed in courts, before a judge and in the presence of lawyers.
I am deeply confident that progress is being made in the ongoing investigations according to the judicial time frame
The course of justice takes longer than that of the media, but eventually we will know who has spoken the truth, who has lied and who is categorically innocent.
So it is with great serenity that I am facing all these accusations and this heavily charged atmosphere, which is somehow irrational and where, seemingly, everything is permitted.
I also want to say that given what I have read here and there on social media, I do not think that this is a conspiracy.
It is true that we have heard Jean-Claude Elfassi or Metmati or even Gilles Kepel who started, months before other people, looking for testimonies, some others were offering money in return.
Metmati even offered up to 3000 euros in return for testimonies, so there was something going on indeed; I was being targeted and was in the firing line, but this has always been the case, it’s not news.
And I think that in the midst of the Weinstein scandal, a woman all of a sudden comes up with a name and then all those who always targeted me, those who consider me as an enemy, jumped on this extraordinary occasion and blindly said “That’s it, we will finish him off”
“We will finish him off,” these are the words spread on Twitter, on Facebook “Tariq Ramadan must be destroyed,” and indeed I was handed to them on a silver platter.
What is really astonishing is that none of the journalists in France, from Marianne to Mediapart to Le Monde or Le Nouvel Observateur, stopped for a second to ask “But who is this woman? We still have to verify who she is and where these accusations stem from.
This is so staggering… This is what they would normally do if the defendant was someone else.
We have seen this done in other cases involving other people.
But since I am considered as the devil here, then certainly those accusing me are angels, telling the Gospel truth.
It is saddening, as no one even realized that in the three complaints she filed, she gave three different accounts of the story, no one knows anything about her life, and if the minimum standard of investigation was carried out, one would have realised that the testimonies, the recurrent offences, the personal situation, etc. all this tells us a great deal about the person.
And I’m talking here about the first person.
As for the second one, the implausible and illogical nature of the accusations regarding my acts is not even based on evidence.
Again, it’s considered to be the Gospel truth, so not even the minimum journalistic work was carried out.
Rather some said “Let’s worsen the situation of the accused, of Tariq Ramadan, since he’s the devil.”
And we then started seeing those who thought that I was down on my knees and wanted to add insult to injury, including Mediapart, which suddenly decided to quickly issue an investigation in order to say: “Oh not at all, we are not the accomplices to that man.”
You know, in France we have had people who are the symbols of intellectual dignity: Zola took up his pen to defend France’s honour and justice, but not everyone can become Zola overnight even if they wanted to.
Many will take up their pens just to save their reputation, themselves and their paper.
But one can only take that into consideration with sorrow and move on.
And what I want to highlight here, is that by trying to worsen the accusations, the point was to make me look like a crazy person, totally unstable.
And throughout the 30 years of my life, I would have crazy been only twice, and both times in France.
Throughout all the time I spent elsewhere across the English-speaking world, Africa, no one has mentioned a thing, nothing at all.
So I am geographically crazy, geographically unbalanced, even linguistically, given that all what happened, happened in French.
It is really astonishing that no one has seen a warning sign in these details, but we will wait for justice to be served and for the truth to be revealed.
The second general point I want to mention here is also: how this story took another direction, this case has nothing to do with Islam.
Even those who say it has nothing to do with Islam, they tend to Islamise it, as if I were the representative of Islam.
A private matter has turned eventually into a matter of Islam, and that was the idea “When a man does such things, all his ideas go down the drain.”
And I have always denounced the common practice in France of turning a deaf ear, then all of a sudden this practice renders whole thoughts totally void, but for what?
And finally, they played the anti-semitism card against Islamophobia and an Islamic voice, and engaged in a completely hysterical debate and absolute nonsense, where irrationality argues with the foolishness that we see in some of the statements.
And this clearly depicts the situation in France, that is, my case was somehow used as a pretext to introduce some changes.
And not only journalists were involved in this, but also politicians, including Manuel Valls who claims that everything he has ever said is totally confirmed while singling out Mediapart for knowing all along yet saying nothing about it.
Actually, Valls was the Prime Minister, and also the Minister of the Interior, just like Sarkozy before him who wanted to destroy me.
They should have known it, as I have always been under surveillance in France, and yet the Ministry of Interior did not know anything about it, so of course the journalists should have.
And the person in charge of domestic intelligence and Interior Affairs did not know anything about it, that was simply because there is nothing to know, but still, he would know that himself.
So in that case, either he may himself be guiltier or apparently there is a real problem of security in France and French citizens should start raising questions about their Intelligence Services if that is the case.
But, again, we are clearly dealing with media hype and a pretext to serve certain purposes, and this leads me to my third and last main point I wanted to talk about: I have learned a lot from what has happened.
I have learned a lot about my friends, family, about those who are close to me, those who support me, I have also learned a lot about my enemies and how far, and how low –literally- they are willing to go, in accusing me, but I also learned how to face such circumstances.
I will keep on defending what I have always defended, because this is not about the person involved per se, it rather goes beyond myself and what I represent. It is a matter of defending a message and a commitment, and even a vision for the future.
It is a vision that I have always had: defending women, defending their rights, social equality, fighting against violence, against forced marriages, the right to divorce, and in this case, the right to press charges against perpetrators of violence, harassment or rape.
It has always been my fight, and forever will be.
And as an extension to this point I also want to share with you the following: To all those who responded to the accusations in an attempt to defend me by insulting other people: No, let’s keep away from this.
Insults, threats and rejection should not be the way we react to this, we should calm the situation and have a deep debate, a soothing and serious, serious, serious and responsible debate.
Because neither of both parties will get anywhere if we use rejection to fight rejection, or insult to respond to insult, and emotionalism to respond to emotionality, and controversy to counter controversy.
That would lead us to the worst case scenario. So, we can only succeed through wisdom, moderation and a long-term vision.
And this leads me to what I have been advocating for, for years now, by saying “We are citizens, we have to, and we will, reach a point where we can all coexist and build the future together.”
Because the most important thing is not where you come from but rather where we are going together. And because our religious differences, be it atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, or any other sense of belonging we have, we must build a pluralistic society.
Therefore, this case strengthens my conviction that we have to keep going, that we still have a long way to go.
The deafness is really staggering, and misunderstanding has become the norm… we have become too impulsive to acquire the necessary wisdom that pluralistic societies should foster so that we can live together.
That will be my commitment that goes beyond my own self, what is happening now can only enhance my conviction that this message and commitment are a categorical imperative for our pluralistic societies.
Finally, I would like to ask you and remind you to always remember to tell those you love that you love them, life is fragile. Hope to see you soon, God willing. Peace be upon you.