Tariq Ramadan, the Oxford Islamic studies professor accused of multiple accounts of rape, has taken a “leave of absence” from the University.
The University released a statement today stating that Ramadan, who has denied the allegations, was leaving “by mutual agreement, and with immediate effect”. It added that Ramadan will not be present at either the University or College during this time, and his teaching, supervising and examining duties in the Faculty of Oriental studies will be reassigned.
The decision follows student backlash at Ramadan’s continuing presence in the Faculty after the allegations first surfaced.
The statement said: “The University has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process.
“An agreed leave of absence implies no presumption or acceptance of guilt and allows Professor Ramadan to address the extremely serious allegations made against him, all of which he categorically denies, while meeting our principal concern – addressing heightened and understandable distress, and putting first the wellbeing of our students and staff.”
In a faculty meeting last Tuesday, students voiced their concerns with the University’s handling of the mounting allegations against Ramadan – who has categorically denied the two accusations of rape from French women, as well as allegations made in the Swiss media this week of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s.
The faculty apologised for their “lack of communication” with students following the allegations, blaming the delay in responding to the claims on the fact that the allegations were made in a foreign country with a different legal system.
They also told students last week that they intended Ramadan to continue to supervise and tutor on his return to Oxford, although arrangements could be made with individual students about how their supervisions would proceed.
Professor Ramadan also reportedly taught a seminar and was seen “laughing” with faculty members in St Antony’s College immediately following the first allegations.
Director of the Middle East Centre Eugene Rogan had warned against jumping to quick judgments about Ramadan. He told students: “It’s not just about sexual violence. For some students it’s just another way for Europeans to gang up against a prominent Muslim intellectual. We must protect Muslim students who believe and trust in him, and protect that trust.”
A number of students expressed their anger last week with the University’s response to the allegations. One postgrad told Cherwell: “Frankly, I’m shocked by how badly the University has dealt with this incident. While Professor Ramadan must be assumed innocent until proven guilty, this does not excuse the absolute lack of communication between the Middle East Centre and affected students.”