French court denies rape-accused Ramadan’s release

In this file photo, Swiss Islamologist Tariq Ramadan takes part in a conference on the theme “Live together” in Bordeaux. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2018
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French court denies rape-accused Ramadan’s release

PARIS: A French court on Thursday dismissed a bid by Tariq Ramadan, the prominent Islamic scholar detained on rape charges, to be released on health grounds, legal sources said.
Ramadan’s lawyers had pushed for his release since he was detained on Feb. 2, arguing his multiple sclerosis and nerve damage could not be adequately treated behind bars.
The Oxford University professor, a prominent TV pundit whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, denies charges that he raped two Muslim women in France.
A court-ordered medical examination last Thursday found that the 55-year-old Swiss academic’s condition was compatible with detention.
The day after the test, he was hospitalized for four days due to what his entourage said was a worsening of his condition.
Ramadan has complained that the medical tests were only cursory and that the doctor examining him did not have access to his medical records.
He refused to appear at Thursday’s hearing at the main Paris appeals court.
Ramadan’s two accusers went to the police in late October, both alleging that he had raped them in French hotel rooms.
Henda Ayari, 41, said she had decided to accuse him publicly after the “Me Too” campaign against sexual abuse and harassment encouraged her to speak out.
Ayari, a feminist activist who previously practiced a conservative strain of Islam, says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012.
The second accuser, an unnamed disabled woman, alleges that Ramadan raped her and beat her in a hotel in the southeastern city of Lyon in 2009.
French authorities ordered Ramadan to be placed in custody after he was charged, judging him a flight risk.
His lawyers have unsuccessfully proposed handing over his Swiss passport, bail of 50,000 euros ($62,000) and daily check-ins at the police station to secure his release.
A professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford, Ramadan has been on leave since November after the allegations emerged.
One of European Islam’s best known figures, he has dismissed the accusations against him as a smear campaign by his enemies and his lawyers argue there are inconsistencies in the women’s accounts.
His supporters — including two million Facebook followers — have lashed out angrily at his arrest, with many complaining that he has been unfairly targeted because he is Muslim.
Ayari was placed under police protection in November after receiving death threats.


Boko Haram raid kills five in Nigeria: residents

Updated 11 min 27 sec ago
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Boko Haram raid kills five in Nigeria: residents

  • A Boko Haram raid and suicide attack in Tungushe village killed at least five
  • Boko Haram regularly uses suicide bombers, mostly women and young girls, to target areas with civilians

KANO: At least five people were killed and six others injured in a night-time Boko Haram raid and suicide attack on a village in northeastern Nigeria, residents told AFP on Saturday.
A male suicide bomber detonated his explosives among a group of residents sleeping in the open in Tungushe village in Borno state at about 12:15 am (2315 GMT Friday).
The blast was followed by indiscriminate gunfire from Boko Haram militants lurking in the dark, said Mustapha Muhammad, a civilian militia leader in the area.
“Five people have been killed and six others injured in the attack,” Muhammad said by telephone from the village, which lies six kiometers (nearly four miles) north of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
Tungushe resident Umara Kyari, who gave a similar casualty toll, said the attackers torched eight thatched houses and three vehicles before stealing about 100 cows.
“Fortunately all the cows returned to the village,” said Kyari. “I think the attackers are not used to herding cows and could not control them.”
Boko Haram regularly uses suicide bombers, mostly women and young girls, to target mosques, schools, bus stations and military locations.
Its nine-year armed violence to establish a hard-line Islamic state in remote northeastern Nigeria has killed more than 20,000 people.
Suicide attacks have increased in Borno state recently, prompting the military commander fighting the militants to offer a five-million-naira ($13,900) reward for information on bomb-making factories in the region.
On June 16, six young girls killed 43 people in suicide attacks in the town of Damboa, 80 kilometers southwest Maiduguri.
On Wednesday, 15 people were injured when two female suicide bombers targeted a market on the edge of a military base in the city.
Nigeria’s army said troops on patrol in the Mafa area, east of Maiduguri, had come across “pockets of fleeing Boko Haram terrorists” on Friday.
“The gallant troops... overpowered the terrorists, killing even of them and recovered weapons,” it said on Twitter on Saturday.
The insurgents are believed to have carried out an attack in Zabarmari village, also in the Mafa area, on Thursday, according to a civilian militia source.