Petition to free ailing Islamic scholar handed to French envoy

Repost from NewStraitsTimes

KUALA LUMPUR: A petition for prominent Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan to be freed on bail was handed to the French Embassy here today.

The ailing Islamic scholar has been in remand since Jan 31.

The 751-signature petition was handed to French Ambassador to Malaysia Frederic Laplanche this morning by International Movement for a Just World Malaysia director and president Dr Chandra Muzaffar.

He told reporters outside the embassy here that they were concerned because the 55-year old Tariq, who was allegedly involved in multiple rape cases, was suffering from multiple sclerosis and other health problems.

“He is not well. Since incarceration, his health has become much worse, with him suffering multiple sclerosis,” Chandra said.

“His lawyer and family members said he was fairly healthy before this.

“Now he is confined to a wheelchair. His memory is beginning to fade and he has problems with body movement.

“They (French authorities) should put him on trial as soon as possible.

“If not, at least put him under house arrest or grant him bail so that he has access to proper medical treatment.”

Chandra pointed out that Tariq had already been detained for more than 120 days without formal charges.

“Despite not having been been put on trial, he has been subject to trial by media in France and other European countries,” Chandra said, adding that Laplanche had indicated he would pass the petition on to the French government.

Laplanche had said that the lengthy detention period was normal in France.

Chandra expressed the hope that the French government would do what was just and right.

“He (Tariq) should be granted due process. France champions human rights and democracy. It (releasing Tariq on bail) should be done soon. The detention has gone on for too long.”

Present was Islamic Renaissance Front director and chairman Datuk Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.

AFP had reported that Tariq, an Oxford University professor, is being held at the Fleury-Merogis prison near Paris.

A French court had ordered his detention ahead of his trial. The reason given was that he was a possible flight risk and that he might disturb potential witnesses in the rape investigation.

The arrest of the influential academic, a regular on TV debates with more than two million Facebook followers, has shocked the French Muslim community.

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