The Witch-hunt of Dr. Tariq Ramadan

Failing to silence him by other means, French resort to character assassination
Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Kevin Barrett

Rajab 14, 1439 2018-04-01

Main Stories

by Kevin Barrett (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 2, Rajab, 1439)

Computer engineering professor Dr. Sami al-‘Arian was the most effective Muslim-American electoral politics organizer in history. He became a victim of that success when, after delivering the 2000 election to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney — under whose watch the 9/11 false-flag operation upended the political landscape — he was railroaded out of the University of South Florida and into prison, spending most of 2003 through 2015 under arrest or house arrest. Juries repeatedly proved reluctant to rubber-stamp the government’s trumped-up charges against him; but prosecutors, driven by Zionist political pressure, kept finding new ways to hound him (the charges against him boiled down to “verbally and morally supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle”). Finally, in 2015, his persecutors gave up and deported him to Turkey. Dr. al-‘Arian is now director of the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) as well as a public affairs professor at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (İZU).

Oxford University professor Tariq Ramadan, like Sami al-‘Arian, has had extraordinary success representing an Islamic perspective from within mainstream Western institutions. And like Sami al-‘Arian, Tariq Ramadan has been targeted for a politically-motivated prosecution featuring highly dubious “evidence.” Since February 2, Tariq Ramadan has been imprisoned in preventive detention and solitary confinement at Fleury-Mérogis Prison in France, charged with rapes that supposedly happened many years ago, according to the bizarre, incoherent, and sometimes demonstrably counterfactual claims of his accusers. His case was transferred, under highly irregular circumstances, from Rouen to the Paris jurisdiction of prosecutor François Molins, the celebrity “prosecutor of French jihadists” who presided over the cover-ups of the suspected Paris false flag operations of January and November 2015 (for the evidence supporting the assertion that these “terrorist attacks” were false flags, see my two edited books We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo: Free Thinkers Question the French 9/11, and ANOTHER French False Flag: Bloody Tracks from Paris to San Bernardino).

On February 17, a medical examination determined that Tariq Ramadan’s medical condition was “incompatible with detention” and he was later hospitalized. He has been unable to work on his own defense, and has been held in solitary confinement. His family has not been allowed to visit. The government has purposely “lost” hard evidence of his innocence. The absurdity of the accusations against him is glossed over in mainstream media reports. Even some of his political opponents have begun speaking out about this apparent travesty of justice.

Below is a transcript of my recent interview with Sami al-‘Arian (20 Jumada al-Akhirah, 1439/3-8-2018, listen at: https://www.patreon.com/posts/sami-al-arian-on-17523352), who knows something about political prosecutions.

Kevin Barrett: When you look at this politically-driven case against Tariq Ramadan in France, you must be having a bit of déjà vu. He has being accused of horrible things by people who really have an agenda. He’s locked up and is having a hard time defending himself. And games are being played with the evidence, including exculpatory evidence. This must be something you can relate to.

Certainly. It’s really a tragic situation. It’s a political case disguised as a criminal one, against one of the foremost moderate voices of Islam in Europe. And as you say, Dr. Ramadan has been targeted for many years by Islamophobes, those who really hate what he stands for, because he does not fit the caricature of being an angry extremist against the West. He’s a very rational man, a person who has a moderate message, a person who is looked up to by millions, especially the youth, in the vibrant Muslim community that is growing in Europe. So it’s a very tragic situation. He has been railroaded and denied any semblance of a defense.

The French campaign to eliminate Tariq Ramadan from the intellectual, social, political, and religious landscape of the nation long predates the recent charges of rape for which he is being unjustly detained. The visceral hatred against him comes from the near totality of France’s ruling establishment including governments (both left and right), political parties (all of them, from the far right of Marine le Pen to the far left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon), state institutions, mainstream media, talking heads, and influential public intellectuals, with rare exceptions.

Kevin Barrett: This looks like an orchestrated political witch-hunt designed to render him ineffective, and damage or destroy his reputation, precisely because he has been very effective within mainstream institutions. It seems that the Muslims who are so angry and alienated that they won’t participate in the Western institutions in any way, shape, or form, are not so much of a threat. But people like you — you actually had amazing success organizing Muslim voters in the United States, especially in the 2000 election — and the power of Muslims getting involved in American democracy, such as it is, threatened the powers that be. And likewise, Tariq Ramadan is a professor at Oxford University. He has had tremendous success putting out an Islamic perspective.

You’re absolutely right. Re-member, he was also targeted back in 2007 when he was offered a chair position at Notre Dame. After he shipped all his furniture and books and everything, he couldn’t get a visa. And he couldn’t come to the United States until several years later. That is not something that one could see as part of a democratic open society.

The former president of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, targeted him for many years. The former minister of the interior, who is in charge of the police, also targeted him. Many notorious journalists have sparred with him. But he was always able to stand his ground. He was always able to present a logical, rational discourse of Islam, and they were not able to knock him out. But they bring these really flimsy charges that… these charges don’t make any sense whatsoever! I know him. These kind of charges, where one accuser says he was teaching her, 50 times, al-Banna’s teachings… when she says that he was telling her that you can lie to the kuffar, meaning the heathens, it’s just not Tariq Ramadan. This is not the language he uses! So this tells you, on the face of it, that you’re not dealing with someone who’s telling the truth. And when someone accuses him of raping her for a year and a half! What kind of person would be subjected to rape for a year and a half?

But again, he’s not afforded any meaningful defense. He is in solitary confinement. We know he suffers from nerve disease, multiple sclerosis. He’s not being given his medication. He hasn’t talked to his family now for over a month. They’re not allowed to visit him. He’s not allowed to make a phone call. All these are conditions like those I was subjected to. They are designed to break you down, to torture you psychologically, so you won’t be able to offer any defense — so that not only will you be indicted, but also convicted in the court of public opinion.

Henda Ayari, one of Ramadan’s accusers and author of the book, “I Chose to Be Free: A Survivor of Salafism in France,” testified to having finally stopped all attempts to contact Ramadan in mid-2013, but Ramadan’s lawyers uncovered and formally submitted nearly 300 e-mails sent by Ayari to Ramadan between June and August 2014 (she was harassing him). None of that squares in any way with her initial testimonies of being so traumatized and scared of Ramadan that she remains unable to even pronounce his name — a claim she made in her first high-profile interview in 2017.

Kevin Barrett: They claim to have misplaced a plane ticket that he provided them showing that contrary to the accusations of the accuser who says he raped her during the afternoon, he didn’t even fly into France until that evening, and had an eight o’clock appointment (and gave a talk). So that would pretty much exclude any possibility of her telling the truth. And yet the police claim that they misplaced that plane ticket.

Let’s remember that secularism in France, laicité, is not neutral when it comes to religion. It is actually anti-religion. There are five million Muslims in France, and Islamophobia in France is really out of control. Tariq Ramadan is someone who can actually challenge these anti-religion concepts and discourses. He’s not a fanatic or radical or extremist by any stretch of the imagination. He’s rational. He grew up in the West, in Switzerland. He’s a Swiss citizen. He studied Western philosophy and political systems, and also studied Islam in a traditional institution, as a graduate student at al-Azhar in Egypt. He’s someone who completely understands both the Islamic world and the Western world. And throughout his life, in his many books and many writings, he has tried to have a sort of reconciliation between modernism and Islam. He presents Islam as a rational way of life, even in a liberal world. And he was able to stand his ground in debates when faced with assaults on the whole notion of religion.

Many powerful political figures don’t like his message. They have been trying to assassinate his character throughout his career. And what we see now is a very dirty game of trying to assassinate his character and kill him, figuratively speaking, by bringing these wild charges. It is known that one of the judges overlooking the case was actually talking to one of the accusers as far back as 2009. He has been advising her, and advising the person who has been pushing her, a French journalist who has been attacking Tariq Ramadan for over nine years. And unlike in the United States, we’re not dealing with a jury system in France. We’re not dealing with 12 people who can dispassionately look at the case and the evidence, and decide on guilt or innocence. In the French system, you are tried by a judge. In this case, he has three judges, not one! And one of them is in charge of all terrorism cases in France. So you can see where this is headed. It’s very dangerous. They don’t have the same rules of evidence. They don’t have any kind of standards when it comes to the statute of limitations, when it comes to real physical evidence. They don’t have the same standard of reasonable doubt — that you have to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The process has been designed to convict him. And what’s more, he’s denied bail, denied access to his family. He has been psychologically tortured. His team of lawyers has been lied to. As you mentioned, exculpatory evidence has even disappeared from the case files.

You know this whole thing just doesn’t make any sense. People claiming rape: they start reporting it two, three, five, ten, twelve years after the fact? Some of them claim that this was going on for years? How does that make any sense whatsoever? He’s a public figure for goshsakes! And then what is the evidence? Absolutely nothing, except what people claim might have happened. There is absolutely no actual evidence that we know of. Why would people not talk before? Why would people subject themselves to years of abuse? It doesn’t make any sense. One of the main accusers says that he tortured her, then he had to leave to give a lecture, and then came back from the lecture to where she’s waiting in the room for him to come back and rape her. Who could believe something like this? And what kind of mentality would you have to have to believe such a notion?

There’s a double standard, too. One of the ministers in the cabinet of the president of France, Macron, is being accused of rape by two women. What happened to him? Absolutely nothing. He’s still the minister in the cabinet. He’s innocent until proven otherwise. There is no hype, no arrest, no denial of rights; no isolation, confinement, disregard for his health. But when it comes to Tariq Ramadan — did you know that hundreds of people have been accused in France? But he’s the only person who has been dragged into prison, denied his rights, with three judges, misplacing evidence, and basically being tried and convicted in the media.

When you look at the discourse taking place among the elites in France, even the liberal ones, and how they look at Muslims, there is structural racism taking place there. And this Islamophobia discourse in the media, and even structurally through government policies, has poisoned the relationship not only between Muslims and government officials, but among the people. And so today, there is a lot of fear, among the Muslims in France, and a lot of suspicion. And that is not good for the cohesion and harmony in society. And that’s very, very tragic.

When you try to pin terrorism on a religion, you have a problem. You have a problem in the US with gun violence. But you don’t go and try to assign blame to a class of people or ideologies. You try to address the problem, whether as an abundance of guns in the hands of the people, or that someone who’s deranged has his hands on a gun. So it’s far removed from being a problem associated with a class of people. But when it comes to Muslims, it’s very easy to assign blame to the whole class of people. And then you don’t look at them in a human way. They’re dehumanized. So it’s very easy to think of them as guilty. And then when you have prominent people like Tariq Ramadan, it’s very easy to come and say he is the face of terrorism or extremism or the Islam that people hate. And then it becomes easy to convict him and easy to dismiss him and easy to treat him in a horrible way and think he deserves it.

Caroline Fourest, right, and her gay lover Fiammetta Venner have both been involved in “coaching” the testimony of Ramadan’s accusers. Fourest — a freelance journalist, essayist, media figure, and secular activist-feminist — since at least the early-2000s, has made it her mission in life to discredit Ramadan by whatever means possible, mostly dubious and treacherous. She has built her media notoriety and presence almost entirely around her personal crusade against Ramadan, and is herself a favorite of the political and media establishment, which has been generous in providing her with talk show host positions on public radio channels and a columnist position at the daily news-paper Le Monde.

Kevin Barrett: Is it possible that by building enough public pressure on his behalf, we could have an effect on the outcome?

I think so. I am a firm believer in public pressure when it comes to trials that are politically motivated. I believe it does make a huge difference. I remember one of my jurors I met with three years ago, which was seven, eight, nine years after the acquittal. I asked about the things that had affected him. One of the things he mentioned to me was that they saw there were consistently demonstrations by non-Muslims in front of the courthouse. And that made them think, “This is not his community. These are people who obviously are not Muslims. And they stand up for him day in and day out, week in and week out. This is not something that a person would do because they were pressured, or just felt like it. They know him. They are his neighbors, his friends.” And that made them think, “What is the government doing? Are they prosecuting people based on their beliefs, on stands they’ve taken?” I do believe public pressure makes a difference. And I also know from looking at some of the discovery materials from my trial that the government was monitoring these things. And since the decision was political in the end, it did enter into the calculations. So I agree that when it comes to political cases, you do need political pressure.

Kevin Barrett: And of course the website for working for justice for Tariq Ra-madan is FreeTariqRamadan.com.

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