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IRF’s Farouk speaks out against attempts to vilify Tariq Ramadan

Repost from FMTNews

KUALA LUMPUR: A close Malaysian associate of Tariq Ramadan, who was arrested in France over accusations of rape, has expressed disappointment that the prominent Muslim scholar has already been pronounced guilty of the crime before a court trial.

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, whose Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) was launched by Tariq in Kuala Lumpur in 2009, said there were some calling themselves “feminists” who had advised him to distance himself from Ramadan.

“It seems that these feminists have forgotten about the legal maxim ‘innocent until proven guilty’. This is very clear – the burden of proof lies upon him who affirms, not him who denies,” the vocal medical lecturer told FMT.

Ramadan was accused of rape and sexual assault last October by French feminist activist Henda Ayari, who made a transformation from Salafist Islam to a secular feminism, and is embraced by the French far-right.

Ayari first accused Ramadan in her 2016 biography J’ai choisi d’être libre (“I Chose to be Free”), but named the aggressor as “Zubair”.

Explicitly naming Ramadan in October last year, Ayari claimed she had remained silent “out of fear”.

Ramadan, 55, has been a frequent feature on French television debates, and has often criticised Islamic scholars who interpret religious texts literally, resulting in extreme ideologies.

He has also spoken several times in Malaysia, including criticising local politicians who call for the implementation of hudud punishments.

Besides being the target of the Salafist lobby in France for his moderate views, he has also come under attack from French far-right groups, who even accused him of promoting the militant Islamic State.

Farouk, who said Ramadan “has a lot of enemies”, said he had spoken with him on the phone two weeks ago.

“I sensed confidence in his voice,” he said.

Farouk also referred to a support group for Ramadan, which had issued 15 facts to dismiss the allegations against him.

The Committee to Support Tariq Ramadan had published an open letter in defence of the academic, saying the allegations by Ayari were part of a long campaign to demonise him, going back to the 1990s.

“The same accusations are part of an ongoing campaign that has attempted to demonise him ever since the beginning of his involvement as an intellectual and an activist in the early 1990s.

“Professor Ramadan and his ideas have never left people indifferent. But instead of confronting him in open debate, his ideological and political opponents have unfailingly used the most underhanded methods to discredit him as a Muslim intellectual and to discredit his thought,” said the letter, which garnered more than 20,000 signatures on online petition site Change.org.

Ramadan’s grandfather is Hasan al-Banna, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Ramadan, who is fluent in French, English and Arabic, holds a Masters degree in French literature and a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Geneva.

He currently teaches at the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, and is also a visiting professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar.

Ramadan is banned from entering Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria for his criticism of the governments there.

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