by Hugh Fitzgerald
An article in Al-Arabiya describes the attempts by Tariq Ramadan’s lawyers to attack the credibility of the two women in France who, so far, have publicly accused him of violent sexual assaults, including rape:
Lawyers of Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan are fighting to save their client from prosecution over criminal rape and assault charges by two women. Their legal modus operandi seems to be to sow doubts about the testimony of the women, especially the woman given the pseudonym of ‘Christelle’ and whose identity is protected.
The judge of liberty and detention (JLD), however, was not convinced to release Ramadan on Tuesday (February 6), according to Le Monde.
The scholar, who is an Oxford professor on leave of absence since the case came out in the open, and a British resident with Swiss and Egyptian passports, remains in jail. The legal scrutiny will continue under three judges because of the complexity of the case.
The court file maintains that this detention of the prime accused will help relieve pressure on witnesses. Ramadan and his circle of relatives and followers, have tremendous clout. Investigators feel that his being behind the bars will convince others who have undergone similar experience to come forward, in the wake of the rape complaints filed by Henda Ayari and “Christelle”.
The death threats that both Ayari and “Christelle” have received from some in the vast network of Ramadan’s defenders certainly support the French judges’ belief that he should stay behind bars. If allowed to remain free, he would be in a better position to whip up those supporters to threaten both his present accusers and others who might be afraid to come forward with their own accusations unless Ramadan remains behind bars.
Ramadan’s lawyers will focus on challenging the three-month probe by the judicial police and attempt to sow doubt on the two complainants.
Also, even before appealing their client’s detention, the lawyers asked the Minister of Justice to refer to the Inspectorate General of Justice (IGJ), claiming that procedural errors were damaging to Ramadan.
The main point of contention, according to a report in Le Parisien, was regarding a reservation for a London-Lyon flight ticket, which proves that on October 9, 2009, the day “Christelle” claims to have been raped, Ramadan did not land at the Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport at 6:35 pm. This document produced by the defense before Christmas was not made available to the investigators until February 1, the day before Ramadan was indicted.
Since it is admitted that Ramadan was indeed in Lyon to address a meeting that very evening (a meeting that was supposed to have begun at 8:30 p.m. but to which Ramadan arrived late by at least a half-hour), and he admits to having met with “Christelle” at the hotel, if he did not land at the Lyon airport on the flight from London landing at 6:35, then what flight did he take, and when did he land? His lawyers do not say. If his plane landed earlier than 6:35, this would have given him even more time to spend with “Christelle” at the Hilton hotel, and to have assaulted her, before arriving curiously late to the very gathering where he was the main speaker. If there were proof of his arrival on a flight that landed later than 6:35 p.m., his lawyers would certainly have produced it. But they have not done so.
Will that be enough of an alibi and punch holes into the testimony by “Christelle” who has been rather unsure about when the alleged attack happened, having reportedly told investigators: “In the afternoon,” “it was still daylight.”
If the accused Ramadan had landed at 6:35 pm, Tariq Ramadan could have reached the Hilton hotel in the center of Lyon, at best [sic] after 7:30 p.m.
The French term for “afternoon” is “l’apres-midi.” But they are not quite identical. In France, that term normally applies to a period that extends later than the American “afternoon.” Sunset marks the end of l’apres-midi” and the beginning of “le soir.” “Christelle” might well have gone early to the hotel to wait for Ramadan when it was “still daylight.” In Lyon on October 9, 2009, sunset was at 7:06. If she arrived before then, once inside the hotel “Christelle” would been sitting in the lobby, and in her excited anticipation of meeting the Great Man, might have confusedly thought that outside “it was still daylight.”
As Ramadan has admitted, she met him in the lobby when he arrived, where he has said they talked for half an hour, and, according to him, that was all. He denies ever having taken her to his room. According to “Christelle,” they talked in the lobby for ten minutes, but he then insisted that they go to his room to continue the conversation because, he claimed, he had been recognized by a “Maghrebin” working behind the reception desk.
She then testified that because of her disability — she used crutches — she took the elevator. Ramadan did not join her, but took the stairs. Why? He must not have wanted to be seen going with her to his room. He denies all of this, but the detail of his taking the stairs instead of the elevator has the ring of truth.
The organizers of the Lyon conference “Living together, Islamophobia and Palestine” where 700 people were attending his lecture, had told the police that the scholar was late and had arrived “around 9 pm” which would have left him free time.”
If he had reached the Hilton Hotel, where he was staying and where the conference was being held, at 7:30 p.m., what explains his arriving late to his own lecture? What could possibly have gone on between 7:30 and “about 9 p.m.,” which is when the organizers of the Lyon conference, his ardent admirers, claim he arrived to give his lecture? The vagueness of “about 9 p.m.” might be expansive enough to include an arrival by Ramadan at, say, 9:15, or possibly even later. And Ramadan’s followers understand that the later he arrived, the more credible “Christelle’s” version of events, so that “about 9 p.m.” may have been their way of suggesting he appeared earlier than he did.
So Ramadan’s alibi about the timing of his flight turns out to be rather flimsy. The magistrates, however, have sent requisitions for checking the time of his arrival in Lyon.
Ramadan denied raping or having sexual intercourse with “Christelle.”
His accuser on the other hand gave proof regarding a groin scar on Ramadan and also many SMS [text messages] from Tariq Ramadan’s number, including the crucial one on October 10 at 19:29 – the day after the alleged assault – saying sorry for the violence, and also asking: “Do you want more? Not disappointed?”
As to that groin scar which “Christelle” remembered seeing, how do Ramadan’s defenders explain that? I found online that some of Ramadan’s supporters now claim that a camera could have been installed in one of Ramadan’s many hotel rooms (he gives lectures all over Europe), and have filmed him as he walked about naked in the room, and the scar on his groin could have been picked up in the video. Then “Christelle,” who supposedly was part of a plot to bring down the “leading Muslim scholar,” was provided this information to include in her testimony incriminating Ramadan.
How do Ramadan’s lawyers explain the many text messages sent to “Christelle” from Ramadan’s number, and especially the text message sent on October 10 at 10:29, the day after the alleged assault, in which he says he is “sorry for the violence” — the violence he claims never happened — and asking, in quite a different tone, “Do you want more? Not disappointed?” This is the voice of a boasting sexual predator. What else could such words possibly be referring to if not the violent sex of the day before?
“Christelle” said that she had at the time narrated her experience to her friends and presented messages establishing the fact. Her friends in turn had expressed their shock during their replies.”
The messages she sent almost eight years ago, in October 2009, telling her friends about Ramadan’s assault, and their shocked replies, had been preserved by her and were presented to the court. Can Ramadan’s lawyers explain those messages away?
She also presented medical certificates from a few days after the fateful meeting in Lyon with Ramadan.
How do Ramadan’s defenders explain what the doctors who examined “Christelle” in October 2009 found as evidence of a violent sexual assault on her? Are they, too, to be dismissed as part of a vast plot, that supposedly began almost nine years ago, designed to destroy the reputation of this “great Muslim thinker,” this “prominent theologian,” “this eminent Oxford professor,” one of “the world’s leading Islamic thinkers,” this “profound scholar,” this “great reformer of Islam” — these and many more over-the-top descriptions of Ramadan are to be found online, but everything you need to know about the quality of the great Muslim thinker’s thought is here.
But having taken place nine years ago, will these be clinching evidence for the judges, is the moot [sic] question. Or is it just her word against the reputed scholar’s?
No, it is not “just her word” against that of “a reputed scholar.”
It is a fact that “Christelle” was in the Hilton Hotel in Lyon on October 9, 2009, in order to meet, for the first time, and on his invitation, Tariq Ramadan in the lobby. He has admitted that much himself, claiming that they spoke for about “half an hour,” but denying any visit to his hotel room. However, unfortunately for Ramadan and his lawyers, we are not being asked to believe “her word” alone, but also to consider all the corroborating evidence, including the many messages from Ramadan to her after his assault, but also including the long exchanges they had even before they met, with Ramadan discussing religious matters, but also including his flirtatious remarks. In addition there were all the messages “Christelle” sent to her friends describing the attack soon after it occurred. All these messages have been preserved by “Christelle” and support her version of events.
“Christelle” offered as a key bit of evidence to support her accusation the message Ramadan sent on October 10, which made light of, while pretending to apologize for, his savage behavior (“sorry for the violence”) and also asked, amazingly, what she thought of his sexual performance (“Do you want more? Not disappointed?”). She also kept other messages he sent to her, including those describing his “sadness” at her failure to answer his messages, in which he describes how much he enjoyed himself with her, and his dismay that apparently she did not feel the same. He even finds her behavior “ugly” (“moche”) — he appears to think he’s the one who has been wronged. Under a suave exterior, Ramadan’s messages show a monster who is morally unhinged. “Christelle’’s lawyers presented, too, the messages she sent to friends about the assault within days of it occurring, and the shocked replies she received back. Finally, there is, the report of the doctors who examined her a few days after the violent assault she had endured. All that evidence is far more than “just her word.”
As for that “reputed scholar,” Ramadan has long been known to French authorities for leading an astonishingly dissolute life, even as he went around France and Europe discussing, among his main topics, Islamic “ethics and morality.” Bernard Godard, the “Mr. Islam” of the French Ministry of the Interior, described what the French government had long known about Ramadan: “That he had many mistresses, that he consulted sites [sites where sexual encounters could be arranged, or pornography could be viewed], that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited them to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive, yes, but I have never heard of rapes, I am stunned.” This admission by a French official is appalling both for what it tells us about Ramadan, a sex-addict and king of the hypocrites, and about French officialdom, cynical beyond belief.
“Christelle” remembered that Ramadan suggested, after ten minutes of talk in the lobby, that they go up to his room because, being the famous figure he was, he felt sure he had been recognized. But why, if he were only going to discuss aspects of Islam with her, would he have been made uneasy? He travels all over talking about Islam; that’s his profitable business. He’d hardly mind if he were to be recognized while doing that. But he would mind if he had something else in mind — if the reason for going to his room was not to conduct a deep conversation on Islamic ethics but because he wanted sex, wanted it right then, to put him in a good mood to give his lecture, whether that sex was freely offered (and just imagine how many girls and women have succumbed to the siren song of this suave ithyphallic monster) or brutally forced.
The details “Christelle” offered made sense. She remembered that she took the elevator, given her disability — she uses crutches — but Ramadan, instead of joining her, took the stairs. Why didn’t he go in the elevator with her? Clearly he did not want to be seen accompanying her to his room. He could race up the stairs, get to his room, wait inside, and as soon as she appeared at his door, quickly usher her in. And then, if you believe her version (“he became a monster,” etc.) and not his (“she was never in my room”), he could have spent close to 90 minutes having his brutal way with her, and still manage to make it downstairs to deliver his lecture, being late for his 700 adoring fans by a half-hour (“about 9 p.m”).
Meanwhile “Christelle” was left in a state of shock, confused, and afraid of possible reprisals by Ramadan or his followers. Did she leave the room when he left? Did Ramadan instruct her to wait in the lobby and promised he would “explain everything” after his lecture? Did she remain in order to confront him, only to be lured back to the room to be assaulted again? Did she simply leave the hotel, still in that state of shock, afraid to report Ramadan to the police, but by the next day not afraid to text-message her friends about him? We still haven’t had any reports about this in the French press.
What we can be certain about is that Tariq Ramadan continues to flatly deny raping her, denies any sexual contact with her, denies ever having gone to his room with her.
And we also know about his text messages the next day, and then the day after that, from a report in Le Parisien:
Le premier SMS est daté du 10 octobre 2009 à 19h29 : « J’ai senti ta gêne… désolé pour ma « violence ». J’ai aimé… Tu veux encore ? Pas déçue ? ». « Ce silence dit quoi ??? », relance l’interlocuteur enregistré sous le nom « TAriq Ramadan » à 21h53. A 23h09 nouveau message : « Tu n’as pas aimé… Je suis désolé Christelle. Désolé ». Le dernier SMS aurait été rédigé le lendemain, le 11 octobre à 9h24 : « J’ai attendu tte (NDLR : toute) la journée un message hier pour lire enfin des reproches et une déception… Que veux tu que je rajoute à ça… Ça me peine et c’est moche ».
In English, this reads as follows:
The first text message was dated October 10,2009 at 7:29: “I sensed your distress…sorry for my ‘violence.’ I loved it…Do you want some more? Not disappointed?” “What does this silence mean?’” arrives at 9:53 from someone registered as “Tariq Ramadan”: “You didn’t like it….I’m sorry, Christelle. I’m really sorry” is sent at 11:09 from the same “Tariq Ramadan.” The final text message came the next day, October 11 at 9:24: “I waited all day yesterday for a message, only to read at the end of your reproaches, your disappointment. What more can I add? It pains me and it’s ugly.’”
Are these the messages you send to someone with whom you only discussed religion in a hotel lobby for a half-hour? Or are these the messages of someone trying to make light of his monstrous behavior, to show the depth of his feeling for his recipient, even to play the confused lover who thought she would enjoy the same kind of “violence” (Ramadan carefully put the word inside quotation marks to suggest that it wasn’t real violence but a kind of play-acting), and is saddened to discover she didn’t share his feelings, and that she now finds fault with him — him, Tariq Ramadan! — and no wonder it pains him, no wonder he finds her distress so distressing to him, so painful, so ugly. But Ramadan knows that “Christelle” is not the victim. He knows that he is the real victim — at best of a monumental misunderstanding and, at worst, of a deliberate plot to destroy his reputation.
Let us, as a concluding mental exercise, try to be as morally obtuse as Tariq Ramadan, and his Open-Letter defenders, just to see how long we can stand it:
Try to see it from their point of view, try to understand how tender-hearted Tariq Ramadan really is. His text messages from October 2009 show a man in anguish, unable to make “Christelle” understand how much he cared for her, how good she had made him feel, and how sorry he was that she for some reason did not enjoy their encounter as he had. It is he who was let down, he who waited in vain for some sign — a text message, an email, a phone call, anything — of affection from her, it was he who innocently hoped she would remember their “tender and romantic night” together, only to be disappointed at every turn.
But that was not even the worst of it. Now, after so many years of silence, he discovers that “Christelle” has reappeared, and publicly made these grotesque charges against him. It’s not her fault, Ramadan knows. She is being manipulated by dark forces she does not understand, and that are using her — and not only her! — to sully his reputation, all because of a supposed single encounter that just possibly occurred nine years ago and that, in any case, is remembered quite differently by the two participants. And thus his enemies, who have never bested him in debate, have been baying for his blood, and think they have now found a way to bring down “the world’s leading Muslim intellectual.” Of course, what could be more absurd than charges of rape being made against Tariq Ramadan, surely one of the most alluring figures, in every sense, in public life today?
Tariq Ramadan has spent his life trying to reconcile Islam and the West, to teach young Muslims living in Europe to engage in reforming not Islam, which he argues needs no reformation, but their own understanding of the faith. He knew that this would not be easy, but he also knew it had to be done, and that as a devout Muslim born and raised in the heart of Europe, and understanding both the Islamic mentality and civilization, and the mentality and civilization of Europe, he was uniquely qualified for the task. He made the difficult decision to remain in the West, to bring up his children in the West, to teach the young Muslims in Europe today to hew to the straight path of peace and tolerance, and above all, despite everything, not to lose faith in the West’s sense of fairness and justice. Has he been too trusting? Too much the scholar at his books, the lecturer at his podium, insufficiently worldly, insufficiently aware of the elaborate plots being hatched against him by those who have no other way to bring him down? Has he perhaps been too convinced that Europe’s “fairness and justice” would prevail? Let us hope his trust was not misplaced. For if even Tariq Ramadan, that eloquent defender of his faith, but also the learned promoter of reconciliation between the West and Islam, who bravely defies the enantiomorphic extremists on both sides — the Bin Ladens and the Robert Spencers — can be treated so unjustly, based on the doubtful testimony of an unstable woman, an admitted depressive (“Christelle” does not deny having made a suicide attempt), who has even been unwilling to make her charges under her own name, what hope is there for young and disaffected Muslim men in the suburbs to find justice?
Okay — let’s stop the farce right here. Even as a joke, it soon becomes unbearable. But Tariq Ramadan and his two million Facebook friends, and 200,000 followers on Twitter, take this kind of thing very seriously. For this paladin of Islam, the “world’s foremost Islamic scholar,” must be protected at all costs. For his supporters, he is not just innocent until proven guilty; he remains innocent, the victim of a plot, even if declared guilty in an Infidel court, by Infidel judges, applying Infidel standards of proof. For a sample of what his followers allow themselves to believe, see the open letter of “Full Support For Tariq Ramadan” here. So far, not even 30,000 people have signed this preposterous document. It’s pleasant to think that Tariq Ramadan was expecting a good many more.
First published in Jihad Watch.