Rape suspect Tariq Ramadan loses bid for release ahead of trial

Swiss Islamologist Tariq Ramadan, who has been in prison since Feb. 2018 on charges of rape. (Mehdi Fedouach / AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018
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Rape suspect Tariq Ramadan loses bid for release ahead of trial

  • Judges had already refused bail for the 55-year-old Ramadan, who is being treated behind bars for multiple sclerosis
  • Ramadan faces a series of allegations from women claiming he raped them

PARIS: The Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who is being held in France over rape allegations by three women, has lost his bid for early release ahead of trial, his lawyer told AFP.
Judges had already refused bail for the 55-year-old Ramadan, who is being treated behind bars for multiple sclerosis, as well as a request for release on health grounds.
“We were informed of the decision today and I immediately lodged an appeal,” his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny said late Monday, calling the decision “incredible.”
The prominent TV pundit and Oxford University professor, whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, has been held since February on charges that he raped two Muslim women in France.
In early March, a third woman came forward claiming Ramadan had raped her in Brussels in 2013 and 2014, accusing him of subjecting her to violent and sexually degrading acts during a dozen meetings.
Meanwhile a fourth woman has filed rape charges in Geneva against Ramadan, who is a Swiss citizen.
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.
“Prosectors, the investigating magistrate and the liberty and custody judge are refusing to take into account the elements that support his case,” Marsigny said, again denouncing what he called “lies” and inconsistencies by Ramadan’s accusers.
“This decision shows the lack of impartiality by all the legal representatives — police and judges — involved in this case,” he said.
Eric Morain, a lawyer for one of Ramadan’s accusers, dismissed what he called claims of a “conspiracy theory.”
“They go around saying our clients contradict one another and lie, but why did the judges make this decision — Are they being manipulated?” Morain told AFP.
Investigating magistrates are expected to soon question Ramadan’s first accuser, Henda Ayari, 41, a feminist activist who previously practiced a conservative strain of Islam, and who says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012.
A second woman, who is disabled, claims that Ramadan raped and beat her in a hotel in the southeastern city of Lyon in 2009.
The third accuser, a French Muslim woman who is using the pseudonym “Marie,” claims to have suffered multiple rapes in France, Brussels and London between 2013 and 2014.


Child bride auction in South Sudan goes viral, sparks Facebook anger

Updated 46 min 54 sec ago
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Child bride auction in South Sudan goes viral, sparks Facebook anger

JUBA: Five hundred cows, two luxury cars, $10,000, two bikes, a boat and a few cell phones made up the final price in a heated bidding war for a child bride in South Sudan that went viral after the auction was pointed out on Facebook. It is the largest dowry ever paid in the civil war-torn country, the government said.
The highest bidder was a man three times the 17-year-old’s age. At least four other men in Eastern Lakes state competed, said Philips Anyang Ngong, a human rights lawyer who tried to stop the bidding last month. Among the bidders was the state’s deputy governor.
“She has been reduced to a mere commodity,” Ngong told The Associated Press, calling it “the biggest test of child abuse, trafficking and auctioning of a human being.” Everyone involved should be held accountable, he said.
Earlier this month, Nyalong became the man’s ninth wife. Photos posted on Facebook show her sitting beside the groom, wearing a lavish dress and staring despondently at the floor. The AP is using only her first name to protect her identity.
South Sudan has a deeply rooted cultural practice of paying dowries for brides, usually in the form of cows. It also has a long history of child marriage. Even though that practice is now illegal, 40 percent of girls still marry before age 18, according to the United Nations Population Fund. The practice “threatens girls’ lives” and limits prospects for their future, said Dr. Mary Otieno, the agency’s country representative.
The bidding war has caused local and international outrage. It took several days for Facebook to remove the post that first pointed out the auction, and after it was taken down other posts “glorifying” the situation remained, George Otim, country director for Plan International South Sudan, told the AP.
“This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief,” he said. The auction was discussed, not carried out, on the site.
Facebook did not reply to a request for comment.
While South Sudan’s government condemns the practice of child marriage it says it can’t regulate communities’ cultural norms, especially in remote areas.
“You can’t call it bidding as if it was an auction. It’s not bidding. If you see it with European eyes you’ll call it an auction,” government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the AP. “You have to see it with an African eye, as it’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years. There’s no word for it in English.”
Some local lawmakers and activists disagree. In a statement released this week, the National Alliance for Women Lawyers in South Sudan called upon officials to comply with the government’s plan to end child marriage by 2030. Ending the practice includes putting a stop to the auctioning of girls.
South Sudan’s anti-human trafficking chief called the case reminiscent of others he has seen across the country, in which girls are forced or tricked into marriage after being told they are going to live with relatives and go to school instead.
“It is clear that some human trafficking practices are hidden in our culture,” John Mading said.
In other cases, some girls who grow up in the South Sudanese diaspora are brought back to the country and forced to marry. The AP spoke with several people who know girls who arrived for what they thought was a vacation, only to have their passports taken away and forced into marriage by their families.
“Some families want children to marry in their countries and in their ethnic communities, but most do it if the kids are misbehaving,” said Esther Ikere Eluzai, undersecretary for South Sudan’s ministry of gender.