French authorities have expanded their investigation into Tariq Ramadan, prominent Islamic scholar and Oxford academic, to include two further cases.
Ramadan has already been charged with two cases of sexual assault, in 2009 and 2012.
Parisian prosecutors earlier this month instructed the magistrate handling the case to look into “two new potential victims” from incidentals that took place in 2015 and 2016, a judicial source told French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP).
Investigators took witness statements from the two women after they were identified from documents found on Ramadan’s computer. Both women described the relationship with Ramadan in their testimony, seen by AFP.
Le Journal du Dimanche said prosecutors believe this constitutes, “serious and concurring” evidence against Ramadan. One woman said: ““It was something other than physical rape, it went beyond that… there was a moral rape”. The other added: “I asked him to be milder, but he said ‘it is your fault, you deserve it’ and that he needed to be obeyed, which is what I did.”
This comes after Ramadan went on a media tour defending his innocence. He told Al Jazeera last week, “I kept silent … saying I’m not going to talk to journalists, I’m going to talk to judges.
“The problem that I had is that the judges were not even listening to me and not even looking at all the evidences that are just proving that I was innocent.”
“At that point I would say that my take on the whole issue is I knew I was targeted. I knew that for the last 30 years I was demonised because of who I represent in the French political and public scene and the way I was treated here was quite clear. ‘We are going to get him and he will end in jail.'”
A University spokesperson said: “By mutual agreement, Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, has taken leave of absence from the University of Oxford.
“Professor Ramadan’s teaching, supervising and examining duties have been reassigned, and he will not be present at the University or College. “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.”
The first accusations against Ramadan emerged in October 2017, when activist Henda Ayari filed a complaint which said that Ramadan had sexually assaulted her in a Paris hotel room.
Ayari had previously recorded the incident without naming the perpetrator in her 2016 book ‘J’ai choisi d’être libre’ (‘I Chose to be Free’).
On 31 January 2018, Ramadan was taken into custody by the French police, and was released on bail nine months later.
Although Ramadan continued to teach for a short while after the first allegations surfaced, on 7th November 2017 he took an ‘agreed leave of absence’ from his University duties.